This article was written by Sheryl Smith-Rodgers and originally appeared in the August 27, 2003, issue of the Blanco County News.
Earlier this summer, Sarah Pautz couldn’t have been more relieved when she stepped into her tub and spotted a skinny leg sticking out of the drain.
“Mom!” she hollered excitedly to her mother, Vickie. “I found Guay Fay!”
Mind you, Guay Fay had been missing for a while. But that’s not an unusual occurrence around the Pautz household whenever Guay Fay’s home from college with Julie, Sarah’s older sister.
Seems Guay Fay vanishes a lot wherever Guay Fay happens to be living, whether it’s the Pautz house in Blanco, Julie’s dorm room in S. California, or an apartment in Oklahoma.
“We call him Houdini,” Vickie quipped. Whatever his name, Guay Fay lives an extremely interesting and adventuresome life for a nearly two-year-old frog.
Well, this is no ordinary frog. He is certainly not of the variety you’d find sunning along the Blanco River or dining on bugs near Town Creek. The only place you’re likely to find frog gals and guys like Guay Fay are up in treetops somewhere in Australia.
That’s because he’s an exotic Australian White’s tree frog.
The unusual and engrossing froggy tale began in December 2001 when Julie’s close friend, Sarah Culpepper of Blanco, presented her with a gift bag for her 21st birthday. Julie peeked inside and found – you guessed it – a frog.
See, Sarah C. knew Julie had been wanting a pet at her dorm room at the USC, but the choices were limited largely to fish. Sarah did a little research and decided a frog would suit Julie’s wishes perfectly.
At first though, Julie couldn’t help but be a bit skeptical of Sarah’s choice. Who wouldn’t. Come on, a frog? But she soon warmed to Guay Fay’s rubbery body, moist toes, and mesmerizing eyes. After all, who could resist all of that?
What proved to be the challenge, however, was adjusting to Guay Fay’s deep, rumbling croaks he emits deep after dark. That’s because he’s a nocturnal animal that prefers to hunt and socialize when everyone else is asleep.
“I’ve gotten to where I can sleep through them now,” Julie said.
Another troubling issue was – and is still – Guay Fay’s dexterity at escaping from his terrarium habitat.
Which brings us back to Sarah P.’s unexpected discovery in the tub. Guay Fay had been missing from his terrarium for several days when Sarah stepped into the tub and glimpsed a tiny frog leg sticking out of the drain. Thank goodness she saw the protruding limb or else Guay Fay would have vanished forever into the family’s septic system.
Actually, this wasn’t a first “missing frog” episode for Sarah, who frog sat the little guy last year at her apartment in Norman, OK, where she’s attending the Univ. of OK. It wasn’t long after his arrival before Guay Fay clambered out of his container and disappeared.
Being the devoted sister that she is, Sarah worried and fretted about Julie’s missing amphibian to the extreme. At one point, she was ready to call a repairman to tear apart her refrigerator because she thought she’d heard Guay Fay croaking from somewhere within.
She even set out bowls of water and released two dozen crickets, Guay Fay’s favorite meal, throughout her apartment in hopes of enticing him to reappear. He did. Finally. When he was ready.
“Mom!” Sarah exclaimed into the phone a day or so after Julie’s departure. “Guay Fay’s back!”
He had crawled back into his container.
Frogs, they say, have next to nothing in the way of intelligence. The Pautzes agree. To a point.
“Even though his brain is this big,” Vickie said, forming a tiny circle with her right index finger, “we’re convinced he knows Julie. He eats better around her, and he’s more active.”
“I think it’s my scent,” Julie interjected. “I’m his native tree.”
Which brings us to Guay Fay’s mode of travel. It’s via “neck” under shirts and sweaters.
“He’s great at parties,” Julie explained. “It’s a great ice breaker when you pull him out of your blouse.”
According to Julie, Guay Fay also enjoys accompanying her to orchestra rehearsals, where he’s handed from one musician to the next. He’s also been known to croak along with recordings of Julie playing her violin.
When traveling on airplanes, Julie isn’t quite so public about having a frog under her shirt. So far, airline personnel haven’t questioned what the lump at her throat is, and security detectors aren’t sophisticated enough to beep at concealed frogs. Because he’s such a well-behaved traveler, Guay Fay has flown all over the country.
Not bad for a frog with a pea-sized brain.
When it comes to boyfriends, Guay Fay has especially come in handy.
“He’s a good guy litmus test,” Julie grinned. “If one doesn’t like Guay Fay, then something’s wrong, like my last one who turned out to be a real dud. The one I have right now thinks Guay Fay is real cool and lets him crawl on him.”
Could that be wedding bells we hear?
OK, one final question: how in the world did a frog from Australia get a name like Guay Fay?
“Well,” Julie began, “Sarah’s grandparents were missionaries in China for decades, and they had two dogs, a great Dane, and miniature pincher.”
Uh oh, we had to ask.
“The little dog’s name was Guay Fay, which means ‘small one’ in Mandarin,” Julie continued. “He got stepped on by a horse and died so the name was available. When I was at a party one time with Guay Fay, a woman from China leaned over to me and whispered that the name didn’t mean ‘small one.’”
“It means ‘concubine’”.
And on that interesting note, we’ll end this froggy tale with a bow and wish all intertwined within it the very best, especially Guay Fay, who – we’ve been told – could live as long as 20 years.
That is, if he keeps his skinny legs out of bathroom tubs and drains.