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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Herding Toads


(LINK to animal planet information on Toads)

This summer we have had evening visitors under our porch light. As dusk falls, 1,2 and sometimes 3 big old toads come out to help control the bugs. I really don't mind having them around at all, they are great bug traps! But Evie our poodle finds them irresistible.

As dusk falls, she takes up watch at what we call the doggy TV. She sits in front of the back door(french door so glass at her level)and watches intensely. As the light fades and the toads start populating the deck, Evie starts telling us about it! She has quite the vocal ability and the fussing and whining she is able to create really sounds like some language- of course we know the translation " Get off your butts, it is time for me to herd toads!"

As she pounces out the door to go play with her "friends" we all warn her, Evie Icky! Ha, she never listens. IT always starts out well.. she runs in circles around them and charges them to watch them hop.. she will herd around them all trying to get all her friends in one location.. eventually one of the toads makes the mistake to try playing dead or just sitting still- I guess if figures if it doesn't move she won't be interested. Ha! She cannot wait until the game gets to that point.. she will start talking to the toad, and dancing around it, she will even do the puppy butt with her back end up like a young pup playing with litter mates.. If the toad still doesn't move it is time for the swipe! She will whack it with her paw- usually too hard, but I think innocent enough at this point, she just wants it to move! Once in awhile, it will take progressively harder and swifter whacks with her paw, while we scream at Evie saying "be nice!".. eventually the toad gets it head together and realizes escaping is it's only option. About once a week, despite our fussing at her and warning her, she cannot resist and goes in for the bite! We all know what happens next.. She foams, and gags, and throws up.. I rinse her mouth out with the hose.. she then goes inside and sulks..usually she stays away from me, like I am the one that caused the outcome...
The next evening she is ready to herd toads again.

Why won't she learn? She is a shockingly smart dog, but there is something so irresistible to herding toads and the dangerous way it often ends...


Does she think if she does it enough the ending will change? That eventually one of the toads will taste good? Or is the process of herding toads worth the negative outcome?

I find that I probably do a lot of toad herding myself. I find myself repeating the same behaviors over and over again. Sometimes I recognize that I am doing something that is going to have a negative outcome and am willing to take the bad taste for the process(aka eating cake!)Sometimes I don't realize I am repeating a negative behavior and have just accepted the negative outcome.

Then there are times when I herd my toads on purpose with a plan. Abby and I have been messing with chickpea nufu weekly. So far any of the weird things we have done to the block from straining it, to cooking it and pressing it, to mixing it with different fats,proteins,starches has not given us the outcome we want.. But, we are aware we are herding and modifying our technique to change the outcome(one day hopefully!)

Evie isn't dumb. Nor am I, but there are days when I really wonder why we keep herding toads! :-)

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