Thursday morning I had the pleasure of going on a preschool field trip with Mathilda. At our preschool, all students must be accompanied by a parent or other adult when attending field trips. So I never have to put my name in a lottery and hope for the best, which is how it goes in elementary school.
This time we visited an east side institution: Lou's Pet Shop in Grosse Pointe. If you live in the metro Detroit area, a visit to this little shop is the best free indoor fun around. Just don't let yourself get suckered into buying any pets while you're there! We had a wonderful "guide" to show us around and tell us about the animals, and there was no charge for the field trip.
We have been to Lou's several times, and always enjoy ourselves, even without a professional showing us around. But it was nice to have some background and information about the animals we were seeing. The guide we had was funny and related well with the kids...except when he tricked one of the little guys into holding a giant cockroach. Gag. Poor kid jumped about a mile when he realized what he had on his hand. Actually, I think he handled it pretty well, because I predict that my heart would have stopped right there if someone let a cockroach anywhere on my body.
After our tour was over, we were free to walk around and visit with the animals some more. There are quite a few big attractions at Lou's. Probably first on my list, and definitely Mattie's because she couldn't wait to see him, would be Franky, the 40 pound sulcata tortoise, who is free to roam around the store. Everybody gets a kick out of following Franky around. Sometimes he even has a camera strapped to his back and is aired as Franky Cam Live on their website. He just goes and goes and goes, up and down the aisles. An adorable giant bunny also wanders Lou's Pet Shop. Do you remember those freakishly large rabbits in Teletubbies (if you are unlucky enough to have ever watched that bizarre British children's program)? Well this one is named Louie, and he looks like he could have come from the Teletubbies set. He also uses a litter box. I love the idea of litter-trained rabbits. Never mind that this big guy takes up the entire litter box. Lou's is also home to a lemur, a multitude of birds (some can talk and are left out to be gently handled by customers), hamsters, guinea pigs, lizards, mice, hermit crabs, fish, and lots more. It's a really unique place, and kind of reminds me of someplace you'd see on Sesame Street.
Mathilda was very excited leading up to the field trip. But then we got there and she started acting all shy and scared, refusing to touch any of the animals. Later on, when the guided tour portion of our visit was over, she did touch Franky and pet a couple animals. However, she seems to not like the pressure of the group watching her while she does something. She is happy to do it quietly, on her own. It is so funny how all kids are different. When Bethany was three, we went on a preschool field trip to a nature center, where she excitedly volunteered to wear a big snake around her shoulders. Yes, it was real. Mathilda would sooner go out in public without wearing a skirt.
This was such a fun, low key, low pressure field trip. The kids had a blast, whether they wanted to touch the animals or not. Lou's really keeps itself kid friendly, and the employees don't seem in the least bit bothered by little munchkins running all over the place.
If you visit Lou's, there is a cute old-fashioned ice cream parlor, The Chocolate Bar Cafe, nearby. (If you'd rather have breakfast or lunch, one of my favorite restaurants, The Original Pancake House, is just down the road).* Also, make sure you have some change because parking is metered.
Do you have a neighborhood pet shop like Lou's? What kind of unusual animals do they have?
*The Chocolate Bar Cafe is just a hop, skip & a jump from Lou's. Both are located on the west side of Mack Ave., just north of Vernier/8 Mile Road. You don't even have to move your car. The Original Pancake House is a short drive down the street, also on the west side of Mack, but south of Vernier/8 Mile Road, across from Kroger.