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Toad Licker Extraordinaire


“Come on guys, let’s go for a walk,” I say. As soon as the word “walk” is out of my mouth, Eli bails out of his kennel and Sally starts spinning like a top. They collide as they run for the door and I stand still until they get past me, afraid they will crash into me if I don’t. 

I open the door and stand aside as they rush out. The skies are overcast and threaten rain, but the air is warm. I have my flowered knee-high water boots on so I can walk the edge of the pond and look for frogs, turtles, minnows and anything else brave enough to stay in the path of me and the little white dog.

The dogs tear down to the water and start lapping. There is always a bowl of clean fresh water in the house, but they seem to prefer the pond water full of who-knows-what. I continue around the north end and soon a white blur runs past. Sally hits the pond full blast and then slows to a walk as she makes her way ahead of me.

I know something is amiss when she stops and starts dipping her head in and out of the water at a crazy pace.

“Sally, what are you doing?”

Her head is swiveling and bobbing up and down, up and down. When I get closer to her, I see it. Or rather, I see them. Toads. Lots of toads. And the little toad licker is in heaven. I can almost see the smile on her goofy little face as she dips her head toward one toad and then another jumps and she swings around to that one.

I have never seen so many toads in one place before. At first, I think they are frogs because they are in the pond, but then I remember toads lay their eggs in water and I see the long strands of eggs floating under the surface. Sally doesn’t seem interested in the eggs, only the little amphibians. 

I move up the bank so I don’t step on any of them. One hops about a foot ahead of Sally and she follows it into the pond, dips her whole head underwater, and then comes up snorting water out of her nose.

“Sally, you’re crazy,” I say aloud. Eli is not interested in the toads so he and I continue our walk. The little white dog stays right where she is, surrounded by her obsession. I keep an eye on her but she doesn’t move more than a few feet either way of the toad infestation. 

It starts to rain and we head to the house. The ‘we’ is Eli and I, as Sally doesn’t seem to notice the weather has changed.

“Come on, Sal.” She doesn’t move. “Come on, crazy girl. Let’s go in the house.” There is no acknowledgment that she even hears my voice.

I run into the house, kick off my boots and grab a towel to dry myself. In the living room, I look out the window for the little toad hunter. And there she is, in the same spot, in the pouring rain, chasing toads. Eli jumps onto the chair beside me, looks out the window, and then up at me. “I know Eli; she’s a little crazy sometimes.”

I sit next to him and we watch her together.

Every time she drops her face toward the ground, shakes her head as if she is trying to get a bad taste out of her mouth, I know she has just licked a toad. And she does this over and over and over.

When the rain slows, I grab an umbrella and open the door.

“Come on, Eli, let’s go get Miss Craziness.” Eli gives me his ‘Are you nuts? I’m not going outside’ look and curls into a ball on the chair.

I tromp over to Sally. “Come on Sal, let’s go in the house.” She jumps at my voice, looks up at me startled, and then it’s back to the toads. I try another angle. “Let’s go get a treat.” I turn toward the house and pat my leg. Nothing.     “Sally, your dad’s home! Let’s go!” She doesn’t even look at me. “How about some suppies?” I’m sure that will get her attention, as she loves her suppies. It doesn’t. 

The raindrops are coming down harder, so I tug at her collar, but even that isn’t going to take her away from what must be her dream come true – a plethora of toads. 

I hoist her water-soaked body into my arms, pick up the umbrella and trudge to the house. Once inside I attempt to dry her off, but she is too wiggly and I let her go. She barrels onto the chair with Eli and stands against the back, staring out the window. I can almost hear the toads heave a sigh of relief.

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