Thursday, September 11, 2008

The foxes

I am starting to worry about the pair of foxes that live near me. They are becoming rather habituated to people, even to Dog and Baby Dog and me. For the past two mornings, one of them has followed Dog and me on our now pre-dawn walks. And they have not followed at a distance not have they disappeared when Dog or Baby Dog puts up a fuss and I bark orders at the dogs to attempt to quiet them.


It is common for us to see one or both of the foxes. But this trailing and following us, once at a distance of no more than 30 feet, is new. The first time was Monday. Dog and I with the headlamp were up in the north parking lot, heading back to the cabin as we finished our early morning walk. Suddenly Dog lunged against the lead, and I had to hold on with both hands. For a second or so I had no idea what was going on. I thought he'd seen a deer, maybe. Then my headlamp caught the eye shine, and I saw the white tip to the tail, a flash of moving legs.


The fox was likely heading back towards its den after a night of hunting, and I thought the brief, if close, sighting was interesting. Dog continued to lunge on the lead, and I thought he was just being overly dramatic. I tried to keep walking, telling him "no" and "bad dog" and other stupidities.

And then I realized the fox hadn't run off when it simply disappeared out of my view. It was still there. Dog continued to lunge against the lead, half-choking himself on the nylon collar. I kept dragging him away and after 20 yards or so, he settled down a bit, and I thought the incident was over. Then I saw the fox again, behind us, trotting, stopping, looking. Eventually, I got Dog and myself back to the cabin--me with aching arms.


This morning it happened again, twice in fact. This time the fox was no more than 30 feet away. I first saw it among rocks in a low area. Dog lunged, as he did before. The fox looked at us with what seemed like curiosity, trying to get a better view. Perhaps it was trying to figure out why we were there. Perhaps it thought itself hidden by the near darkness. Perhaps it smelled the doggie treats in my pockets. Perhaps it smelled something familiar about Dog's canine smell. It also occurred to me that Dog's half-choked gasps sounded similar to the fox's bark--all air and little voice. So perhaps that's what sparked its curiosity. My voice and dog's lunging didn't cause it to immediately run off, but we did get back to the cabin without further incident.


Then when I took out Baby Dog, we saw the fox again. Baby Dog barked and did her funny little hop, run and stomp that she does when she's trying to show how fierce she is. This time, the fox kept its distance.

I saw both foxes last Saturday, I think it was, when Baby Dog and I surprised them at the bottom of the lane. One, the female I think, bolted immediately. The other stayed and stared at us for a minute or so. Both looked healthy and beautiful. So I'm not really thinking that some awful disease is the cause of this lessening of natural wariness. I am worried that come hunting season this lack of wariness will result in one or the other of them getting shot, and I hope that doesn't happen. I like having them around, hearing their weird little barks. I would be just as happy if they stopped following us, though.

5 comments:

kat said...

They are so beautiful and gentle sometimes. And I agree with you that it's a concern that their comfort around humans could cause them harm once hunting season begins. I hope they'll be safe.

Lynne said...

My first thought at their unusual behavior was that they were ill. Maybe you should make an effort to scare them for their own good.

Cathy said...

Maybe they think you guys are funny to watch :)

Probably they have a den nearby an they have gotten used to you walking past them. If it was another human, they might have run off.

Carolyn H said...

Cathy: yes, the foxes do have a den nearby, within about 50 yards, just at the end of the driveway. They should certainly be used to our smells

Lynne: If I hadn't seen both in daylight this week, I would have thought the one might be ill, but they look fine and beautiful as ever.

Kat: If the foxes stay near their den, they will be okay. I'm just afraid that they will wander into areas of the mountain where hunting is allowed.

Carolyn H.

Georg said...

Bonjour Carolyn,

The interaction between your little dog and those foxes nearby could infect you with "alveolar echinoccosis", a parasitic disease. Some years ago deadly, now only life shortening.

Best thing to do is to give your dogs and cats regularly a worm killing drug.

To abstain from eating forest fruits seems to be a myth.

Cheers
Georg

http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dpd/parasites/alveolarechinococcosis/factsht_alveolarechinococcosis.htm