Friday, December 28, 2007


My frog, Mia, is dead.

I think the stress of a cross country move was too much for her. She never really was quite right after we got to Atlanta. I brought her down to Miami with me and a few days ago she started to peel even more than she had been. Her eyes clouded over. I moved her to a smaller tank that I cleaned several times a day with bottled water but she got progressively worse until I found her dead today.

I buried her in one of my mother's flower beds.

I'm okay with it for the most part, it was a much nicer resting place than where she would have ended up three years ago if I hadn't brought her home.

I think what makes me the most sad is remembering her living in a tank on the kitchen counter in my Oakland studio. She would watch me do dishes, and I would hand feed her red worms or tubifex. I couldn't find a store that sold live worms in Atlanta, so she ate only frog brittle for that last four months. I'd greet her with a singsong "Mimi" when I came home from work, and I know she lacked the cognitive capacity to be happy to see me, but she at least recognized that there was a food dispensing creature around.

She really was a great pet, with a story. I love telling Mia's story so I'll tell it again here, probably for the last time.

A few years ago I was working with frogs in a lab at Berkeley. Our primary study species was the California mountain yellow-legged frog but one graduate student needed blood samples for her project. To draw blood from a frog, most people use a needle straight in the heart, which obviously requires some training.

The veterinarian affiliated with the Office of Laboratory Animal Care set aside some "extra" African clawed frogs for us to practice on. The frogs were anesthetized so that we could draw blood from them, and then additional anesthetic was administered to euthanize them. That way, the frogs would never wake up and feel pain if we botched the the blood drawing.

However, one frog was in good shape after the blood drawing. Her heart was beating slowly from the anesthetic but it was beating nonetheless, with three neat pinpricks where the needle had gone in.

"You all did a good job on this one," said the vet "I think I can bring her back."

And he did, by flicking her chest and blowing into her mouth. Because she was an "extra" though, nobody really wanted her. She sat in our animal room for months because we had no use for her but we couldn't bring ourselves to euthanize her after she'd already cheated death once.

So I brought her home and named her Mia, after Mia Wallace in Pulp Fiction.

She was a good frog.

1 comment:

timidvenus said...

that was very nice.