Love of Four and Some Two-footed Friends

Poisonous Frog on Left, and Tiny Frog on Right

I have loved animals all my life, and I have to say that some of them are not necessarily things that others will find suitable, but I guess there is something about them to make me want them in my life, at least for as long as they can be.

When I was still a little girl, living in El Paso, TX, I used to hear what I thought was some sort of giant toad for its huge voice (Croak, CROAK, etc.) on and on thru the night. I would only hear them after a big rain. But when I discovered the source of those voices, I could hardly believe it. I was fascinated and laid down in the went dirt to watch the mud puddle nearby and the stream of life going on in it. It was marvelous, for there was activity going on everywhere in the small area of that puddle. I would go back day after day to watch it, until on the last day when the puddle was nearly dried up and there were just a couple of those tiny frogs (like the one on the right), so small one of them could sit on my smallest fingernail and not be overcrowded. I decided to “rescue the one or two that were left, believing that they were not going to get into the ground before it was totally dried up. So I took them in hand into the house, found a jar, and put some water in it for them, and believed I could find things to feed them and take good care of them.

Children mean well always, but they are often very naive about what is required to do some jobs well. This was the case with the frogs. I did not know that when they stopped mating and living in the puddle and went back into the earth, they entered a state of metamorphosis until the next rain. When they stopped making those huge croaks late at night, I could not understand what was going on. But the next day or so, I decided I needed to take them back out and pour the water back on the ground to make another tiny mud puddle or at least a little wet area there so that I help them to get back into the ground. It was near the evening, so I left them with the somewhat wet spot where they were, and went back into the house. I went out early in the next day and the spot was almost all gone, and the little frogs were definitely gone.

I will never forget that time. Over the years, I have loved and had other frogs for pets, and I would find them out in nature and enjoy them whenever i could. As I grew older, I learned not to take them out of their habitat, but just to watch and enjoy them. Much to my adult shame, I once ate some frog legs at a restaurant when I was older. I always felt as though I was betraying my friends, but those legs were pretty tasty. Would I eat one of my dogs or the cat? I seriously think nothing could induce me to eat them — even starvation. But I guess a lot of people have edible pets that they raise, knowing that someday they and/or their families will eat those creatures.

I look forward to reading about all of your pets over the years. These are only the start for me.

Frogs in My World

Anne’s hand-painted frog quilt.

I have always loved frogs. If I remember correctly, when I was a very young child, my family ate frogs legs at a restaurant. And it was the last time I ever ate them. It was not because of the taste. Like chicken, they tasted good as I remember. But I fell in love with frogs at an early age, and if I had a close relationship with chickens, I would not eat them either.

We lived in El Paso, Texas in an average home except for one thing. When it would rain, the rain would create little puddles, and lo and behold, overnight the tiniest of frogs would appear in the mud and they could live their entire life cycle in the short time that mud puddle existed. When it would dry up, they would go back into the earth and continue to exist in a state of metamorphosis until the next rain storm. Although they were so tiny they could sit on one of my fingernails, they would croak so loud at night, I am sure frogs in the next county could hear them. Another interesting thing about frogs is that all of them have different sounds, and the sounds don’t seem dependent on their sizes.

I used to come out during the rain and get one of two, and attempt to raise them in large jars with water and a little mud so that I could watch them, and before the puddle would go away, I would return them to their home puddles, where they seemed right happy to return. I never did learn all their amazing secrets of their lives, the tadpoles that must have come, or what other things the did such as what they ate in those mud puddles.

One way or another, we would encounter frogs in my youth. In the summers, we often went with an elderly lady we called Grandma Gibbs, and she had a summer cabin in the mountains. My dad was away then I think in Okinawa before we would later join him. In the summertime, we would play out by a stream that was not so far from the cabin, and sometimes we would catch a frog, and examine it and then put it back. It was a magical time. I loved the soft moist feeling of the frogs, and they never tried to bite or anything that would scare a child. Sometimes we would hear them making their croaking noise in the rain, or in the evenings.

Still much later when I was a grown-up living on my own in a small mobile home in a little park in Lomita, CA, when builders in the blocks began to tear down an old farm that took up blocks and dug up the land and pond that existed there to build more large homes, first I found a desert tortoise walking down the street toward the storm drain, and I rescued him and had him for years and years. I took him to the vet when I first found him as he seemed very thin to me. The vet told me that he was very old, and he actually lived to be more than 80 years old, but that is another story.

I was working as a paraeducator substitute (by choice) in Torrance and Redondo Beach, CA and one day during this same time I came home from work, and I heard this little “Ribbit, ribbit” sound coming from somewhere in my side yard, or perhaps the back. I made the ribbit sound back to it, and then it made another ribbit sound, and this kept up for awhile. It started our little friendship, and this small fellow would make his little greeting every day when I would come home from work. I would always greet him back happily. And he too would make his happy noise in the late nights too. I have always loved the sounds of nature, and so I welcomed that and the noise of crickets in the night.

This part of the story doesn’t have a happy ending for a neighbor across the street did not like the little frog’s sound, so one day I came home from work and there was no happy sound to greet me. I never found my little frog friend, but neither will I ever forget him and how happy he made me feel.

A long time has gone, and though I no longer have any live frogs, I have ceramic, rubber, and other kinds of frogs in my home. Many ancient people believed they were a sign of good luck and prosperity, and a friend of mine told me to put some pennies in the mouth of a rubber frog and turn him toward my front door. Sure enough, the frog seems to have brought some financial blessings that literally seemed to come from out of the blue so to speak, totally unexpected.

I will always love and respect frogs of all sizes and types, even the uncommon types that are poisonous. This happens when creatures seem to need some form of protection or ability to catch prey to eat. In nature, there is always some reason why creatures become harmful to other creatures or human beings. And frogs are not found commonly today as they were once. Like many other creatures that are becoming more scarce over time, it may also be a symbol as the ancient peoples believed. Someday I dream of having a little pond with waterlilies and perhaps frogs and goldfish, and once again I will be able to hear that beautiful and peaceful sound from my bed at night in the summertime.