The other morning, I was sitting by the garden pond, when the dogs across the street began to bark. Whatever it was that roused them must have been pretty exciting, because they kept up their yapping for several minutes. That was long enough to incite the bullfrog in the water beside me to bark too, to join their chorus. And so, for maybe twenty or thirty seconds, I sat on my wooden bench and listened to the hounds and the frog sing together.
Now one might suppose that the frog was just hard of hearing or confused, and that the reason he started croaking was that he mistook the yowling of dogs for the gribit of other bullfrogs.
But let us, for a moment, assume that the frog knew what he was doing. Perhaps, he too was provoked by what was happening across the street, and wanted to pass along the alarm.
Perhaps he was lonely; no other frogs had answered his calls all spring long, and maybe he was willing to settle for talking to dogs. People find that dogs are often better company than other people. Maybe my bullfrog thought the same thing. Perhaps frogs and dogs have a secret bond based on subtle commonalities in language that transcend their bodily differences. Maybe frogs and dogs understand one another much better than people understand frogs or dogs or even each other.
For better or worse, I will never know the truth. That’s not so bad. Like the rash of Jesus sightings described in grocery checkout tabloids, the question of frog and dog talk is something I can ruminate about at length and do it with a certain bizarre pleasure that proof would certainly spoil.
This is Bill Felker with Poor Will’s Almanack. I’ll be back again next week with notes for the second week of early summer. In the meantime, listen to the dogs and frogs. What are they talking about?