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Friday, November 6, 2015


Frank has an addiction.  I know this is an addiction because he spends all of his time and energy trying to get to this substance.  He continues to seek it, despite experiencing negative consequences.  And it seems like he craves more and more.  Those are all signs of an addiction.

His addictive substance?



Frank spends all evening looking for them.  Unfortunately, this year happened to be exceptionally wet during the spring and early summer.  Which means that this is an exceptionally froggy year.

It started out innocently enough.  We had a couple of toads in our backyard in our little patio home on Balboa.  Frank pursued just one toad.  We were able to stop him from eating it, but Frank remembered the bitter taste, and he remembered the thrill of the hunt.

Yes, Frank is a thrill-seeker, too.

Most toads and frogs emit a toxic substance through their skin.  This is supposed to discourage predators from eating them.  Frank, on the other hand, seems to enjoy the taste, the bitterness, and tingly sensation in his mouth, and the way his saliva will start foaming out of his mouth.  He sees nothing wrong with shaking his head and slinging slobber all over the floor, himself, and anyone who happens to be standing nearby.  Slinging the foamy slobber onto his face and back allows him to actually wear the frog toxin.  Maybe this is some kind of badge of achievement among those dogs who are addicted to frogs.  Maybe it just serves to remind him of the fun and joy he’s had chasing down the frogs.

PD and Henry both went through a phase when they thought frogs were worthy prey.  But they both grew tired of the game, and they didn’t care for the after – effects of the foamy mouth.

Frank, however, just can’t seem to get enough.

This has been a year of rain, rather than drought.  And with so many years of drought behind us, the few surviving frogs in the area got busy making tadpoles.  I cannot take a single step into my yard without setting at least three frogs into motion.

And Frank wants to play with every one of them.  Frank is mostly addicted to the chase.  When he finds a frog, he will start by barking.  Most prey know that it is best to sit still, try to blend into the background, and hope the predator can’t see them.  So, when Frank starts barking, the frogs will freeze in place.

This is not what Frank wants!  He wants a chase.  So, he puts his nose, and sometimes his mouth, on the frog.  The frog jumps.  Frank is happy.  His tail wags.  And he barks again.  He wants more!  Frank keeps barking at the frog to keep it moving.  Every time the frog stops, Frank touches it to get it going again.  Sometimes, the poor frog gets really tired.  Frank has to get more aggressive, giving the frog a little nip.  This is usually when his mouth starts to foam, and the excitement grows.


Unfortunately, Frank will get too aggressive at times.  He’ll accidently kill the frog.  I don’t think Frank intends to do this.  I’m not real sure he understands what he’s done.  Frank will keep barking and lunging at the poor dead frog.  He just doesn’t understand why the frog has quit jumping.  His toy is broken, and he can’t get it to move again.

Eventually, Frank will give up and go inside. 

When possible, I will go outside and intervene in the frog’s (and neighbors’) behalf.  Sometimes, a simple command to “settle” will be enough.  But usually, I have to try to stand between Frank and the frog so that I can herd Frank back into the house.

The frog never seems to understand that I am on his side.  The result is that the three of us do this silly dance, going in circles.  Frank is trying to get to the frog.  The frog is trying to get away from both of us.  And I’m trying to figure out where the frog went so that I can get between the other two.  During this dance, I am also challenged with trying to not step on the frog.

I’m looking forward to cooler weather and fewer frogs.