Photo Essay: M. de Grenouille est l'animal le plus peu commun

First posted in July, 2004

So, M. de Grenouille reluctantly consented to being captured in an empty olive jar so that he could make the five mile journey to Sandy Beach for the Fourth of July Pet Show.     

There were seven other contestants, two of which entered as a team: a rat terrier, a dachshund, a chihuahua, two Labrador retrievers, and two parakeets (at least I think they were parakeets).

Some of the canine contestants

The parakeets.
I think the yellow one
(his name is Tiger! Rar!)
is glaring at the camera.

At any rate, we were all an odd bunch.

The rat terrier is fifteen years old and had some teeth removed this week, so she spent the entire morning with her tongue hanging out as she explored her oddly less-toothed gums. It looked rather silly and pathetic, but also sort of cute. She took home Oldest in Show.

The dachshund did little more than scurry about and occasionally growl at other contestants. They tried to get her to do a trick, but she was defiant and refused to be anyone's puppet, even with prizes at stake. Ultimately, she took home Most Dignified of Show.

The Chihuahua, name of Choco Latté, spent the whole time shaking uncontrollably. The owner jokingly blamed this on nerves, but the truth is the dog had neither fat nor fur and was terribly chilled. Eventually, a small colorful afghan was produced and the dog shivered less. Bad references to Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat were made. This afghan, coupled with his aggressive-looking studded collar earned Choco Latté Best Dressed in Show.

One of the labs, Piper, put on a very pleasant little trick show for us. She sat, shook hands, spoke quietly on command, was told to "look stupid" and merely sat there staring at us, then showed extreme patience in staring at food which she restrained herself from eating until having the word "cookie" said to her in a rather silly voice. This trick repertoire is not without its pitfalls: Piper is a rather "healthy" looking lab, for values of "healthy" that equal "not svelte." I think she took home Most Talented in Show.

The birds entered as a team and did little more than sit in their cage ignoring us while singing incessantly. They received Most Musical in Show.

The other lab was never allowed out of a car parked near the event because his owner was busy getting the nearby archery contest set up. Bo received Most Put Upon in Show.

M. de Grenouille was a big hit, actually. Despite the fact that he is (a) from Africa and (b) there are very few frogs around Yakutat, people seemed shocked that he was really a full-time pet. "This is his first outing in seven months," I'd say, and they'd reply, "Really? Seven months you've had him? I figured you caught him this morning." Second most popular question was whether or not he induced hallucinations if you lick him. Third most common question, because he seemingly never surfaces, is whether or not he breathes air (admittedly, children asked this). His swimming ability was complimented, his diminutive size admired, his ability to understand French induced awe. People gawked as I had to spell his full name for the judges, then giggled at the translation of his (admittedly rather unoriginal) name.

Gren took Most Unusual in Show. He won five dollars. I was sort of hoping for ten, because he cost six and I figured ten would cover his cost plus his lifetime supply of food, but five dollars is a good start and goes a long way toward him earning his keep. He also got a great big giant blue ribbon (everyone got five dollars and a great big giant blue ribbon, but who cares?). He was so happy that when we came home and I put him back in his tank with his awards all around, he refused to come out from behind his rock for this photo:

But he is much pleased. Mostly, he's pleased to be home and pleased that the adventure earned him blood worms, a treat he doesn't get very often.

Sam keeps belittling Gren's achievement because everyone got a prize, but he can go kiss a hallucinogenic toad for all I care, because I am proud of Gren and like his great big giant blue ribbon and am much amused and will keep it on his tank and continue to call him "my little first place frog" for as long as I want. So there.