Rest In Peace, Hop

“Baby?” Susan said softly this morning with a serious undertone that indicated something had happened.

“Yep?”

There was a pause.

“Hop’s dead.”

She’d found him last night before going to bed.

“Oh,” I sighed. “I’m sorry about that.”

Hop became part of our family a couple years ago or so when we adopted him from my friend Sean Bonner along with two other European treefrogs he’d had. The trio was driving him crazy with the racket they’d make at inopportune times, such as the middle of the night or during business calls. Susan, to my surprise, approved of the transfer and quickly named them Hop, Skip, and Ajump.

Skip and Ajump, the Europeans, died within the first year, but Hop proved to be of tougher stuff, and Susan dutifully made weekly trips to the local pet store for crickets that she regularly fed him. I’d augment his diet with the occasion fly I’d trap under glass and release into his aquarium. He was a swift and sure hunter.

The most remarkable thing about Hop was his call. He didn’t make it much the last year or so, but there were times before that when he’d let loose with a series of loud and sharp noises that best could be described as sounding like a small dog barking. Yap! Yap! Yap! Sometimes it would go on for a few seconds. Sometime a minute or more. Seriously, it was quite the surprise that something so loud came from something so small, and one of my goals was to get audio¬† of the vocal display. It proved impossible, because he’d always clam up before I was ready to record.

Frog’s are decidedly difficult to read so it was also impossible to know if we were doing right by Hop. My main presumption was that if we were doing something drastically wrong, Hop wouldn’t have hung around as long as he did. Still, I’d thought about getting him a tank mate, but not enough to risk Hop not getting along with the new amphib, or perhaps getting along too well and producing a bunch of little Hops. I was also notoriously lax on cleaning his home, but he actually seemed to be troubled more during the few times I would scour it, then if I left it alone to just become an algae growing experiment.

Susan came downstairs, checked the tank and then came into the study a few minutes ago as I was writing this. “Hop’s still dead,” she said.

“Yeah. I’ll clean out the tank after I finish this.”

There was brief talk of a more convenient and disrespectful disposal, but we decided to bury him in the side yard. It will be a simple and quick ceremony, but far more fitting a family member than flushing.