When Gina Smith of Milwaukee was 10, her parents gave her a turtle for her birthday. Gina turns 66 today, but her old pet is still with her, and their friendship continues unabated!
Gina named the turtle George and took care of her with care. “I really liked turtles,” said Gina. I still love them. Before having a turtle, Gina says, she would often catch the turtles that sometimes appeared near their home, take them to her yard, and after a while release them back into the wild.
Gina and George quickly became true friends. The girl made sure that the turtle never lacked food and water, and when she left the house, she took it with her.
Gina had a special basket for George. If the girl was going for a bike ride, she put it in a basket on the handlebars, and when she went to visit relatives for the holidays, she took the basket with her across the state.
Gina’s friends loved George and often made fun of him, and her parents considered the turtle a member of the family. They spent all the family vacations together. For Halloween, the whole family even made a special costume for George.
At Christmas, George received a traditional festive dinner every year – strawberries and kiwis, which he ate with pleasure.
The bond between Gina and George has only grown stronger over the years. When Gina entered college, she took the turtle with her, and George moved into a dorm with her.
Hostel rules forbade pets – but for all those years no one gave George away, perhaps because Gina’s neighbors adored him too.
There, in college, Gina met her future husband, Kirby Smith. At first, he was rather cold about George, whom Gina dragged around with her everywhere, but then he realized that if he wanted to be around Gina, he would have to love her pet too.
For Gina and Kirby’s children, George was a playmate from birth. According to Gina, although George doesn’t know how to put toys in his teeth, he is still fun and interesting in his own way.
Today, Gina Smith is 66 years old and her friendship with George has lasted for more than half a century. Several times he ran away from home, but he was always nearby. “He likes to crawl in the garden, but he’s already run away three times,” says Gina.
The last time this happened was in 1988, when he dug under the fence in the neighbors’ yard. They found him there. – he buried himself under a pile of leaves”.
In the wild, gopher tortoises live for 40-60 years, and in captivity they can live for over a century. It is therefore likely that George will outlive Gina, and she knows it. “After my death, George will live with my daughter’s family, they will take care of him,” said Gina. I wrote it in my will. »
In the meantime, George and Gina are happy together, and are ready to celebrate the 60th anniversary of their life together in a few years!