Toads and I go back.
As a kid, I was drawn to a neighbor’s house in Beaumont that had a pond the perfect size for a six-year old. I’d crawl under a barbed wire fence and root around the pond looking for toads. Maybe it was their shape, their eyes (so clean), or, just the way they sat on the planet that captured my imagination.
In fairy tales, toads were deemed ugly. According to an old wives’ tale, they gave you warts. Then, Kermit the Frog came along and changed the storyboards forever. There are differences between toads and frogs. All interesting, but even today I remain a toad fan. Totally.
In fairy tales, toads were deemed ugly. According to an old wives’ tale, they gave you warts. Then, Kermit the Frog came along and changed the storyboards forever.
So, recently, when I got a phone call from a buddy with this amazing story about a toad, “not a frog,” he said, I leaned in like that kid on the pond.
Robb, who lives with his family near Austin, had been observing a toad on his porch for three months. Later, he learned from a herpetologist at the University of Florida that it was a Gulf Coast toad. A whopping 8-by-5.5 inches wide.
The toad had kept to an area underneath a table, but when it discovered one of the dog’s water bowls, “Jelly’s,” it moved in. Literally.
The problem was twofold. Gulf Coast toads can secrete a poison harmful to pets. Secondly, the water became dirty as soon as the toad plopped in, which required cleaning the bowl and refilling it multiple times daily.
Wanting to protect their three dogs without harming the toad, Robb placed the toad just outside the yard area. The next day though, it was back on the porch — in the water bowl.
Back again and again
Again, Robb picked up the toad but this time, he placed him further, beyond the yard. Two days later – boom – the toad’s back. Here's where things really got interesting.
Again, Robb picked up the toad but this time, he placed him further, beyond the yard. Two days later – boom – the toad’s back. Here’s when things really got interesting.
Robb took the toad 150 yards down a 55-foot steep hill that leads to Barton Creek, which borders their property, and put it in a pool of water right next to the creek. Two days later though, like clockwork, the toad was back lounging in Jelly’s water bowl.
So, back to the creek Robb and toad went. This trip, Robb walked further down the creek and put the toad in 3-inches of water next to the creek. You guessed it, three days later – boom – the toad was back again.
As you can imagine, the whole family got involved at this point and the four came up with a plan. They took the toad 100 yards downstream and placed it on the other side of the creek. “Our thinking was,” Robb explained, “that going nearly 300 yards away on the other side of a 40-foot wide creek and being downstream would put him on a path of finding a new home.”
But nooooo. Three days later – guess who? The amazing, the tenacious, the triumphant toad was back on the porch!
Today, "Mister Blister," they named him, resides at their home on a hill. He has his very own water bowl and seems to know it, too, because he no longer lounges in Jelly's. Robb and his family all agreed, and rightfully so, that "Mister Blister earned it."
The pond where I once looked for toads has long disappeared. Thirty-three years later, I’d meet a fella, who, as a boy, grew up in the house there. We’d court and later, marry. Not exactly like the fairy tale where the frog turns into a prince and God knows I ain’t no princess but I’ll take tenacity over make believe any day of the week.