I am certainly sure that we underestimate the intelligence of animals.

Having occasional time on my hands to sit and watch the action of birds and animals leaves me wondering who the dumb animal really is.

A couple of rainy days have just passed, so I had a chance to sit in the comforts of a chair on the little across-the-front porch that decks out my birdie bungalow. From there I can hear the sound of the birds both within and without. I can hear their happy songs and cackles, the disgruntled squeaks and squawks, and their warning squalls of terror if a hawk happens to fly over.

Recently, I was watching our large, cream-coloured Pyrenees/husky cross house dog, that often lies with her front feet crossed over each other. I couldn’t quite figure out why, though she seemed to be staring at some unknown object. She would jump up quickly, race in bounding leaps across our pebbled driveway, come to a skidding stop on the wet, short-cut grass of the lawn, often tumbling over, and then return in equally large bounds to position herself in a slightly different spot than the one which she had just left. 

Although this happened three or four times, in less time than it takes to write about it, my curiosity got the better of me, and I rose to see what she was looking at. She pointed it out to me with her outstretched nose; she could almost touch it with her outstretched tongue, I couldn’t believe what she was actually playing with.

Crouched and well camouflaged in the wet, short-cut grass was a large green leopard frog. It seemed to not be afraid of the dog, as it made no effort to jump away. The dog knew well that she would be scolded if she grabbed it in any way.

The frog, when the dog raced away, would give a short leap, perhaps a foot or two, and snuggle down in the grass once again. It seemed to me that they were engaged in a game of hide and seek, as both seemed to enjoy what they were doing. Each time the dog came racing back, she would lie once again with her front feet crossed and her nose just inches away from the newly positioned frog.

I remember back when our eldest son was just four. He had a little red hand wagon, with racks that rattled when he pulled it around the yard. One of the old farmhouse veranda posts had a hole at its base, in which lived a large toad. Our son would play with this toad and give it rides in his little red wagon. I asked the Little Lady, “How does he get it out of the hole?” She simply answered, “He doesn’t. It comes out by itself whenever it hears the wagon rattle.”

As we were sitting on the porch at the time, I pushed the little wagon back and forth several times. The toad, almost immediately, squeezed out of the tiny hole and sat there blinking. One look from the Little Lady and (yes!) I, fully grown as I was, stooped over and gave the toad a ride around the yard in my son’s little rack-rattling red wagon.

When I placed the toad back on the porch it, seemingly satisfied, immediately gave a bubbling croak and grunting squeezed back into the comfort of its tiny hiding place.

Take care, “cause we care.




Barrie Hopkins