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On Thursday, August 21, 2003, at 2:45pm, my wife of 34 years, Rebecca, died in my arms in an emergency room.
The last words we spoke were in perfect synchronization: "I love you with all my heart."
5/20 - Day 10: I'm writing this on his 10th day here, so I'm kind of starting in the middle. I'll try and keep an updated journal about his progress. We've learned a LOT about Scamp in the last few days .... he's more fun than you could imagine! He solicits us to play with him, and indicates this by curving his tail into an upside down U shape. He's learned how to jump up on the sofa, and he does this dozens of times each day. He has his own little chair with his own little towel on it, right next to the sofa, and that's his main "den". He sleeps a lot, and eats a lot, too. He climbs on things - grey foxes are known to be the only fox that can climb trees. Scamp climbs on the back of the sofa, on pillows, windowsills, anything that interests him. Each day, he gets a little more confidence, and tries new things. He gets what we laughingly call "the zoomies" - high speed dashes with complex twists, turns, spins, and stops. The more abrupt, the more he seems to be enjoying it.
5/26 - Day 16: A lot more walks outside, now using a tiny leash in place of the string leash. He's occasionally getting aggressive towards me - ie; showing teeth and biting my hand, and on these occasions, I hold him firmly. This is a very mild form of forcing submission. He's been eating massive amounts of food, and looks like he's gaining weight daily. We weighed him a couple days ago: 2 pounds, 4 ounces. Maybe we'll weigh him every Sunday or something. His play is increasing constantly, too. Every day or so, he learns to do something new, for example, leap onto my lap when I'm using the computer, then walk all over the keyboard while I try to type. He also had his very first chicken leg today, ate about 3/4 of it, then tried to cache the rest. At first, I held it for him, while he was tearing chunks off it. But that ended when all the growling and snarling continued. I felt he really didn't need my help anyway. He was a sight with that huge leg in his mouth ... It was nearly as big as him.
5/29 - Day 19: Two interesting things. (1) we gave Scamper an "abandon" day. No food for almost 24 hours, and no people nearby. He was left alone in the workshop. I expected him to be very hungry, and very glad to see us. Neither was the case. I suspect he found some food in the shop, and spent the day snoozing. (2) Scamp experienced his first squirrel this morning. He ate some intestines, and sniffed around a lot, but wasn't particularly interested. I think he had more fun dragging it all around the shop. Weight today: 2 pounds, 8 ounces.
5/30 - Day 20: Scamp went for his first night walk, and after awhile, successfully climbed a tree about 10 feet up by himself! He tried raw chicken livers, and loves them - but they're awful messy. I bought him a battery operated furry mouse to chase, and he won't go near it when the motor is on, it makes too much noise. But he gets on the sofa and won't take his eyes off it!
6/2 - Day 22: You oughta see this guy eat lizards! We caught a few of those lil lizards, or geckos, or whatever they're called, and placed them on the floor near Scamp. His reactions are so fast, it's amazing.
6/3 - Day 23: 2 pounds, 10 ounces.
6/6 - Day 27: Scamper ate his first dove today. At first, he didn't know what to do with it, and carried it around in his mouth. I'm pretty sure he didn't realize that doves are birds, birds have feathers, and feathers stick to your face. After he figured out that it was food, the FUN started! If you've never seen a fox with his face covered in feathers, hopping, pawing, sneezing, and trying to get the feathers off him, you don't know WHAT you're missing! He was hysterical. After all else failed, he put his nose down on the floor, and zoomed across the workshop like a snowplow. I can't describe how funny he was. We've been going outside on the leash, hunting. Scamp has come pretty close to seizing lizards, but so far, he isn't getting it done on his own. They just get away from him, and he doesn't notice them until it's too late. He's doing much better on the leash, and only gets obstinate occasionally. Play inside the office is intensifying constantly. He's becoming more confident with his humans, and jumps all over us to solicit play. He now jumps on me when I'm at the computer, and curls up in my lap for pet and a nap. I think the "taming" part is pretty well accomplished.
6/9 - Day 30: 3 pounds, 3 ounces. Y'all know he's not starving :))
6/12 - Day 33: FWC called to tell me that the permit to keep Scamp has been refused.
6/14 - Day 35: 3 pounds, 10 ounces.
6/15-6/17 - Day 36-38: Four Pounds - This weekend is a MAJOR milestone. Scamp was set free! No collar, no leash. See pics 61 through 71, Page 3, and read below, for the "why". After many phone calls, I wrote a five page letter to the Chief of Florida Wildlife Commission in Tallahassee. This was mailed, along with the correct three page application. Click here to read the letter which I sent to Chief Kyle Hill of the Florida Wildlife Commission on June 15th and the response letter which I received on July 9, 2001.
WHY is the Florida Wildlife Commission.
Scamp was brought here by Dale, a Florida licensed trapper. The trapper, according to FWC, has no right to dispose of the fox, which the state considers to be a "protected species". The fox is the "property" of the state of Florida, according to FWC. He is allowed to either destroy (kill) it, relocate it, or put it in a rehabilitation facility. That means Dale violated a State law by giving me the fox. Of course, neither of us knew this at the time. Trying to obey the rules, I immediately started research, and discovered a free permit is available to keep a grey fox. I applied for a permit to keep Scamp lawfully. That's where the big mistake happened.
I violated a Florida State law because I didn't have a permit in my hand before Scamp came onto my property. I violated the law because I received a protected species but I didn't BUY him. But wait - this gets more interesting.
According to FWC, SOME PET DEALERS are allowed to SELL grey foxes. These are not wild foxes, but foxes bred in captivity for the purpose of SALE. Is this picture getting clearer?
The way that I see this, then, is that if money changes hands in a way that the state likes, you can have your fox. But if you SAVE a fox, or FIND a fox, you're breaking a law. The Lieutenant was very clear: if I found a baby fox on the side of the road, brought him home, kept and fed him, that's not only a crime in this state, but I also COULD NOT receive a permit to keep him, if I applied for a permit. As explained above, the state claims they "own" the fox. Of course, I would be welcome to spend hundreds (or thousands) on the medical care of the fox before the state advised me I couldn't keep it. So I think what one could learn from this is to skip the part where we apply for the permit. Save the baby fox, raise him as you would any pet that you love, and leave the state completely out of it.
I asked the FWC Lieutenant many, many questions in hopes of resolving this problem AND obtaining a permit to keep Scamp. While he was very nice and very helpful, he also had no concern for either the fox's welfare or anyone's emotions or feelings. The letter of the law is interpreted by him to state that a private person cannot obtain a fox through any other means except to buy it. And apparently, all the FWC cares about is the letter of the law. This raises a question: if I buy a fox from a breeding farm, then I am buying a fox born and raised in captivity, from (at least partially) domesticated parentage, bred by people for the sole purpose of pet sales. In this case, how could the state consider it to be "wildlife"? It's not wild. It never was wild. Why require a permit? It's more like a "petlife" - similar to birds or snakes bred in captivity, for example, cockatiels or boa constrictors.
So then .... Scamp lived here happily for about 5 weeks. In that time, he came to love us and trust us. And we, him. He caused no problems here, and he used kitty litter consistently. Because he didn't make any mess, there was never a need to cage or confine him. He had free run of the office and workshop - about 850 square feet. We had him walking on a leash very nicely, and we CARED for him as we would a baby puppy. He got more to eat than you could imagine, and he was thriving. Now he's outside. We removed his collar, put some water and food out for him, and released him. He hasn't gone too far yet, he showed up on the porch last night for supper, and walked into the shop of his own choice. This morning he was here again, and right now, he's somewhere in the back, under the shop, probably. He's been over and through the neighbor's fence, about 25' up the oak trees, and also wandered into the street a couple of times. I'll offer him food again tonight, and maybe he will - or maybe he won't - show up for supper. If you think this is emotional stress, you're absolutely right. But what the hell? The FWC is happy.
It should be obvious from this story that I have very little interest in keeping foxes in general - it is THIS specific fox that I feel attached to. I have already put in hundreds of hours gaining his trust and working with him carefully, so he could learn to live in our environment. His progress has been remarkable. It should also be obvious that I'm very emotional about this permit problem, especially since I've tried my best to do things by the rules. Nothing seems to be acceptable to the state. After talking to six different FWC people, I'm no closer to resolving this issue than before I started. Strangely enough, a FWC Lieutenant was here on June 4, to investigate my application for a permit. He didn't want to take Scamp away, nor did he even ask to see him!
And Finally ...
As long as we're living by the letter of the law, I don't need a permit to keep Scamp. I'm not "keeping" him, and I'm not in possession of him. He's wild, he's not in captivity. Unlike my dogs, he's not my personal property. He's not under my physical control at all, since he's not caged, confined, collared, or restrained. He's not restricted, and he's free to go wherever he wants, anytime he wants. He finds his own food and water, and sometimes he finds the food and water which I put out for him. He can choose to stay nearby, or he can choose to wander away. From this viewpoint, all I can do is hope that he doesn't wander into any trouble. This area has many loose dogs, owls, hawks, and plenty of people. People drive cars, and cars run over animals.
6/20 - Day 41: Scamp is definitely losing his baby teeth. If I can do it, I'll take some pics of his mouth very soon. I noticed this while he was kissing me, by the way. See pic 72.
6/23 - Day 44: 4 pounds, 2 ounces. Scamp has been outside (more or less) for a full week now. He's usually in the vicinity, either under the deck or under the workshop. He actually "asks" to come inside when he's in the mood, especially if he knows we have food. Today, we got him his second chick. The last time he had a chick, he killed it quickly, and ate little tidbits of it. We ended up throwing most of it away. Today, he wasn't fooling around. That chick was in his stomach in minutes! Nothing - not even a feather - was left over! His hunting skill is really improving, too. I was out with him last night, and he's definitely capturing bugs, spiders, etc. on his own. He's also venturing higher in the trees, and recognizing how to get back to his "den" from various places.
6/24 - Day 45: First DA2PL and parvo injection. Shots are not very high on Scamp's "favorites" list, you can be sure. He shared some NY Strip steak and baked potato with me - and promptly vomited it back up. I guess steak (or maybe red meat?) doesn't really agree with foxes. He's also a chocolate ice cream maniac - I let him lick the spoon and he's in heaven.
6/27 - Day 48: He's now 10.5" tall at the shoulder and FOUR pounds TEN ounces. Another live chick day. We discovered that those giant grasshoppers, (called lubber grasshoppers), which he's been catching and eating are not good for him .... they're toxic, and actually known to kill birds.
6/29 - Day 50: Scamp has been (mostly) "wild" for 2 weeks now. He disappears for a couple hours, then reappears on the deck or at the office door. Recently, I've started leaving the sliding glass door to the shop open a few inches for him. He can get to the water bowl and his litter box that way. Strangely enough, he has come inside, after hours outside, and goes directly to the litter box. I don't think I've seen him make outside more than 4 or 5 times. We take him "hunting" ... walking all around the field with him as he scouts and searches for whatever little foxes search for. It's obvious he's too well fed, because half the things he finds, he tosses around and plays with for 15 minutes, then loses interest. He's also been caching some food in the shop. This is hysterical - he'll save part of a lizard or chick for "later". He buries it in places you couldn't imagine: in a moving blanket, behind a compressor, near parts, next to a box, and then tries to cover it up, by using his nose to "shove" imaginary "cover" over it. He'll spend 5 minutes "burying" his cache, and it's right out there in plain sight! He's also adopted a new indoor "den" .... a folded moving blanket on top of a bench. I've gone out in the shop a dozen times and caught him fast asleep behind/on this specific blanket. He's also getting too large to sleep under the computer monitor anymore, so now he sleeps on top of it.
7/2 - Day 53: I took some pics this morning of Scamp with a case of the "zoomies". See pics 87 - 91, Page 4. He was moving so fast I had trouble getting any pics at all. I couldn't find him with the camera. Also, in pics 94 and 96 you can see him strolling into the workshop. No smoke or mirrors, he wanders in and out constantly. If the door's closed and he's hungry or wants to play, he digs and scratches at the glass to come in. In pic 95, he's peeking out from under the office. He's got an area of about 1600 square feet under the shop and office to call his "den".
7/6 - Day 57: He's 16 weeks old today :) Losing lots of baby teeth, and getting his permanents. He's been "wild" for exactly 3 weeks today. And, at long last, I saw him catch his first lizard all by himself. Yesterday, he ate a chick that was huge, so he cached half of it. This morning he dug it up and finished it! It's fascinating to watch him check on his hiding places for food, and even more fascinating to see him cover it up as he caches it.
7/7 - Day 58: The "zoomies" seem to be a big part of play for Scamp. Lately, his "zoomies" have included some new and interesting behaviors. For example: what can Scamp do when he has to pee and he's moving at 72 mph? He careens around the room, makes a few practice leaps onto chairs, up onto the bench, behind the lathe, off the bench, gets on the straightaway, slams on brakes before he goes face first through a door, does a fast 180, then leaps 6 feet thru the air directly into the litter box. But can he stop in time? NO - the box slides, inertia carries him right out the other side of the box, where he instantly squats and pees all over the floor. Then on to 20 seconds of "Fox-Watusi". That's the high speed version. The low speed method is not to bother getting all the way into the box at all - instead, get just the front paws in, the back paws on the edge of the box, and see where the pee goes. 50-50 chance it'll end up in the box, otherwise, it runs down the outside of the box, onto the floor. If Scamp could talk, I'm sure he'd say, "Hey! How much closer could I get?" Or, "I just wanted to see you clean it up, Dad!" Scamp "gapes" .... this is a wide open mouth showing all his teeth. (Foxes don't snarl, by the way.) I believe this display is used not only for play, but for fighting, too. We have a routine when he's in high gear play mode. I make a "mouth" with my hand, and copy his "gape" - kind of like a duck mouth? This drives him nuts, since the "other fox" (me) is doing about the same thing. Another favorite is the "lay face down on the floor, Dad, and wrap a towel around your head, so I can try and dig you out of there!" He really likes that one, because he bites me in places I don't expect. Scamp makes very few noises. Unlike dogs, foxes don't bark very much. But a lot of times, he'll get so damn excited when we're playing, he starts barking - to celebrate, or something. It's usually in a pattern of three - like "gekk, gekk, gekk!" - while he's heading towards 80 mph. Scamp sometimes doesn't believe that gravity or traction apply to him. He'll get racing, leap off the end of the mixer, and crash into a wall. It makes my head hurt when he hits things like that!
7/8 - Day 59: 5 pounds, 2 ounces.
7/13 - Day 64: Yesterday, the Lieutenant from FWC came to close out the case on Scamp. We talked for a couple of hours, I told him I had released Scamp on 6/15, and the final resolution was quite acceptable and fair, in my opinion. The state has no problem with me feeding Scamp, as long as I don't cage him. And, being as Scamp is free, he can stay wherever he wants to, which includes my property. As we were talking, Scamp came out from under the deck, clearly visible, and did his "Fox-Watusi" all around the yard. The Lieutenant wrote an official warning about the code section I violated, and we had a very pleasant conversation. I feel greatly relieved that the meeting was not confrontational in any way. Today marks FOUR WEEKS since he was released, and it seems he's staying pretty close. 5 pounds, 7 ounces. Losing lots of baby teeth now, and the permanents are coming in. Observation: a lady and her 8 year old child were here, Scamp refused to come anywhere near them. He completely flipped out about the child. He's obviously very aware of his own "pack", and visibly avoids other people. This behavior seems to be increasing as he grows up.
Now it's time for a chuckle - here's a rundown on Scamp's menu for one (not completely typical) day. Breakfast: eggs benedict on english muffin, with hollandaise sauce and ham, along with dry, crunchy dog food, iced tea. Lunch: wet dog food, dry dog food, and a live baby chicken, iced tea. Snacks: two lizards, one grasshopper, canned cat food, half a saltine cracker, dry dog food, lots of iced tea. Supper: pasta shells with shrimp in garlic sauce, dry dog food, peach yogurt, green salad with ranch dressing, and for dessert, chocolate ice cream with chocolate syrup. Scamp has learned how to do a reasonable job of washing the dishes, and stands by waiting - actually, it's more like DEMANDING - his turn at the plate.
He's learning more words and sounds lately, and is becoming much more responsive to them.
7/17 - Day 68: All four baby canine teeth are out. He let me pull out the last two. Pics 115 and 116, Page 5. :)))
7/18 - Day 69: Scamp earned his silver hunter award this morning! We went out and shot a squirrel. It fell out of the tree, ran through the fence into the neighbor's yard, and went up another oak tree. Scamp found his way through the fence, leaped up into the tree ten or fifteen times, trying to locate the squirrel. I couldn't see it, but it was higher up in the tree than Scamp was - I could hear that. In just a couple of minutes, Scamp came down out of the tree with the squirrel in his mouth. I showed him how to get back through the fence and he carried his squirrel under the office. From what I know of his capacity for food, it's too much for him to eat all at once. I'm sure he'll eat what he wants, and cache the rest under there. Here's hoping that the odor doesn't carry inside! Maybe he'll finish off the rest of it real soon, so it doesn't get a chance to stink. 5 pounds, 10 ounces today. We're noticing also that at this stage of his growth, all his development seems to be in the length of his legs. Pics 119 and 120, Page 5.
7/22 - Day 73: Weight today, 5 pounds, 14 ounces.
7/26 - Day 77: New pics 121-126, Page 6. For several weeks now, I've been learning as much as I can about foxes. Researching all over the net, library books, videos - anything. I think everything written mentions the odor of fox urine, but I've been thinking to myself, "Wow, what are they talking about? These people must be hyper sensitive!". Scamp's urine never had any odor that was obvious ..... until today! I don't know if he was saving it all up like a surprise, if it's an age thing, or if little foxes just have a "stink switch", but anyway you look at it, I discovered how smelly fox urine really IS! He pulled his "front paws in the litter box" routine, and peed all over the floor. In a couple of minutes, I was ready to move to Seattle or someplace. That stuff is POTENT! Obviously, since Scamp is growing up, it's time to do some new thinking and planning. There's got to be a way to get him entirely into the litter box before he pees!
7/28 - Day 79: Today's weight: 6 pounds, 9 ounces. We may have solved the odorous problem of creative peeing. We noticed his habit was to place his hind feet on the short sides of the litter box, and that's when he'd pee all over the floor. We never saw him do it on the long side. See pic 127 showing the original litter box now placed sideways inside one half of an extra large airline crate for dogs! Even if Scamp misses, the airline crate serves as a second "pan", but it's not very likely he'll miss anymore, since the litter pan fits so closely to the crate. Now the short sides aren't accessible. And it's very simple to get both pans outside to wash them down with Lysol. Here's hoping! Today, Scamp again showed what a good hunter he is. "Somehow", three mice got into the workshop, and Scamp came to the rescue. Without question, he's able to maneuver as well as those mice, who are now in his belly. The last one served as a 30 minute plaything. Presumably, Scamp wasn't hungry anymore, so he chased the mouse about 3 miles around the workshop before finally eating it. Observation: he doesn't pounce yet. I expected he would leap at the mouse, but that wasn't so. Maybe he'd do it if the mouse was in cover?
7/30 - Day 81: Today's pics are 128-140, Page 6. Pics 130-132 show Scamp zooming at about 90 mph. Check 131 - that's actually a fox in that pic! Others show him hunting in the flower bed. He caught a lizard, but dashed off so fast, I couldn't get a pic.
7/31 - Day 82: Scamp has been free for SIX WEEKS and FOUR DAYS! Added pics of him and Bec out hunting at 5:00am, Page 6.
8/2 - Day 84: 6 pounds, 12 ounces. Scamp has been doing some major exploring. This includes brief forays out in the street and some serious fence climbing. Yesterday, he came into the front yard to get a chick, then took off for his den under the shop with it. He now climbs right over 5' chain link fences with no hesitation.
8/4 - Day 86: 6 pounds, 14 ounces. The 7/28 airline crate solution wasn't the solution. We bought a large storage container that's deep enough to (hopefully) keep Scamp from peeing on the floor. It's 96 quart, 36" x 16" x 12.5". So far, he's doing right - jumping all the way in before he pees. As I'm typing this, Scamp is demanding attention, jumping all over me, biting, running berserk. He does this a lot.
8/5 - Day 87: Out came another baby tooth, this makes 5 that weren't swallowed or lost, so I took a pic of them. He also climbed down a ladder today .... step by step - he did great.
8/7 - Day 89: Scamp ate two mice which he located by himself in the workshop. We didn't give him any "clues", he used his nose and eyes. The new litter box still isn't the perfect solution, but it's better. He's also been taking some short rides in the car with us. You oughta see the expressions on people's faces. Today's weight: 7 pounds, 4 ounces!
8/10 - Day 92: For the last couple weeks, Scamp has shown he's partly suicidal. This seems to be increasing constantly. We have 2 adult German Shepherds that live in the kennel or the house. Every day, they go out in the yard at least once, frequently more often. Scamp typically hides under the deck while the dogs are loose, but lately, he's not only coming out to investigate them, but he's also baiting them to chase him. He actually wants them to see him! He'll stroll out 40 or 50 feet - away from shelter - and when the dog spots him, the dog comes closer, and the chase begins. Scamp will dash under the shop or deck, with the dog INCHES behind him. As soon as the dog quits sniffing and goes back out in the yard, Scamp is out again, walking right behind the dog! He'll repeat this a dozen times, one after another. This behavior can easily get him killed, but he doesn't seem to have enough instinct to stay the hell away from the dogs. Or, for all I know, he's rehearsing and practicing his skills in evasion and flight? I suspect that he's also very curious about the dogs, and could relate to them as huge foxes. Also, the possibility exists that Scamp believes this is his territory, and he may imagine he's controlling it? All I know for certain, is it's scaring ME!
8/17 - Day 99: Scamp has survived his first physical encounter with a Shepherd. I'm pretty sure he was banged and bruised inside, but there were no puncture wounds. He lost 2 permanent front teeth, knocked right out, and it took him several days to allow anybody or anything near him. I feel sure he was in pain. He's feeling so good now, that he went nose-to-nose with the other Shepherd this morning. Fortunately, Lora wagged and sniffed, and didn't even try to aggress on Scamp. This has really got to stop. He's 22 weeks old today, and he's been outside and "wild" for 9 weeks. Today's weight: 8 pounds, 1 ounce.
8/21 - Day 103: Not mentioned up to this point are the mouse breeding cages which we built. We're trying to raise mice as a food source for Scamp. This illustrates exactly how crazy we've gotten. Nobody in their right mind would raise mice, would they? If you didn't realize it, mice are sort of messy, and they don't smell very pleasant, either. The breeding cages are kept outdoors in our kennel (screened room), and they're pretty secure. After the mice chewed holes in their water bottles, we built some covers which allow the waterers to lay outside of the pans, preventing the chewing. So far, we think we have at least 2 pregnant mice. One looks like a ping pong ball. We'll see. Presently, we have 2 pans - 3 males and 6 females. We'll add a few more if this all works out. If it doesn't work, we'll have a few extra storage boxes, no mice, and less mess to clean up. Scamp hid from a dog today, and when the dog went near his hiding place, Scamp growled seriously enough to make the dog jump back. This is a good sign - maybe he isn't trying to commit suicide after all!
8/30 - Day 112: For the last 8 or 10 days, Scamp is spending more and more time outside. Each day, we provide a little less food for him, so he must work a little harder to find his own food. We're only letting him in the office for short periods of time, mainly because he's been getting kinda dirty and messy. The mouse breeding is productive: there are 9 squiggly little eraser looking things in one box. Scamp enjoys baiting and teasing the dogs when they're in the kennel - he dashes and dances around just outside the screen room, driving the dogs nuts. This morning he danced around on his hind legs, something I've never seen him do before. He's continuing to get into "narrow misses" ..... yesterday, he came out from under the deck, and intentionally mixed it up with a male Shepherd. The dog chased him into a closed sliding glass door, and Scamp leaped over the dog's head to escape. If the dog had been slightly more coordinated, Scamp's story would be over. Scamp chooses to create confrontations, rather than remain hidden, under cover. Why he does this is completely beyond me, unless it's a territory or dominance thing.
9/2 - Day 115: Scamp got his gold medal hunter award ..... he found two baby squirrels hiding in the tractor shed, and caught both of them. See pics 227-234, Page 9. He tends to play with his food a lot, tossing it around and rolling all over it. We think maybe (just a possibility) that animals might do this to make it easier to eat, by breaking up bones and skeleton first, before settling down to eat. Another possibility, he is putting his scent all over the prey, identifying it as his if he caches it. Twice this morning, he urine marked the exact place where he killed one of the squirrels. Again this morning, he became ultra possessive, and actually aggressed on me while I was taking pictures. "Aggressed" in this sentence means he came right at me, growling, mouth agape. He's very calm with non hunt type food, but goes ballistic when he has live prey. (I don't guess he realizes I really don't want his dead squirrels.) 8 pounds, 10 ounces !
9/4 - Day 117: More and more, Scamp is staying outside, sleeping under the shop, and finding his own food. Two surprising things to report: yesterday, he almost took food from a stranger. His nose was within 2 feet of the little girl's hand, she was sitting on the ground, close to his "den entrance", so he had the possibility to escape easily. He wouldn't actually get close enough to take the food, but he did follow us through the fence, into the next yard, and moved around within just a few feet of three total strangers! His play is now mostly outside. Recently, he's been retrieving a squeaky toy from all over the back yard. I wouldn't say he brings it back every time, but he's doing real well, and it's obvious he understands if he brings it to me, I'll toss it again. He's also doing a lot of bitework with the burlap twitch stick. You've got to see a fox doing bites on a burlap, it will make you hysterical! I'll make some pics of this very soon.
9/7 - Day 120: Yesterday we added a new face to the mix .... a 9 week old German Shepherd puppy. Scamp is very curious about this new entity, but the puppy doesn't seem particularly interested in Scamp. Once, when the puppy got too close to Scamp's den, he growled and charged .... the puppy yelped and ran. A minute later, Scamp was out again, checking and sniffing. It seems that they're going to meet nose-to-nose at some point, I just hope there's no warfare. See pics 243-257, Page 9.
9/9 - Day 122: The meeting between Scamp and Tzar is getting closer .... Scamp is constantly coming closer to the puppy, dashing away, zooming back, and soliciting him to play with his body moves. Naturally, a 9 week old German Shepherd is about as coordinated as a brick, so Tzar gets 5 steps in Scamp's direction, trips, and starts rolling. I think Scamp is laughing at him. This week's pics show some (hopefully) interesting things .... Scamp getting brushed, drinking from the automatic waterer, playing with a squeak toy, etc. Yesterday, we released 3 mice in different places outside, and gave Scamp some "hints" to find them. The mice were in cover - in flowerbeds, in tall weeds near the base of a tree, etc., so he had to do some looking.
9/11 - Day 124: Today's weight 8 pounds, 8 ounces . Yesterday, the most hysterical thing happened - Tzar was outside, playing with a tennis ball. Along zooms Scamp at about 90 mph, and gets to the ball first - the puppy puts on his brakes, looks at Scamp. Scamp looks at Tzar. Scamp bows up and gives him the gape and some growling before dashing away a few feet. A minute later puppy is distracted, the ball is available, Scamp zooms over, and snatches that ball, then runs under the deck with it. The body english had us laughing all day. Today, Scamp took two tennis balls away from Tzar, and went right under the deck with them. Check pics Page 9 . Have you ever seen a fox carrying a tennis ball around?
9/16 - Day 129: Last night, Scamp ventured into the neighbor's yard, confronted a cat, and ran the cat off! I watched this with a flashlight, and it was an amazing sight! He put on the body english, started stalking, and ended up growling and running behind the cat at top speed. After the cat disappeared, he climbed straight up a 5' chain link fence and jumped right onto my shoulder. He's been doing a lot of climbing up on me, and standing on my shoulders lately. The interest in the tennis ball keeps increasing, and Scamp has gotten Tzar under control, I believe. When Tzar moves too fast or gets too close, Scamp charges him and nips. After a few connects with his tail, Tzar has developed a fair level of respect for Scamp. The interplay between them is hysterical. Tzar just looks so confused, I imagine he can't figure out why Scamp moves like he wants to play, then refuses to play! Scamp will not ignore the puppy .... he intentionally seeks him out, walking 100 yards or more, following him out into the front yard, to get near where Tzar is. If they do decide to make physical contact and play, it's going to be the most hysterical sight we could imagine! Every day, Scamp shows us that he's the most fascinating member of our family. Here's an interesting little story:
Bec and I wanted to take Tzar for a walk on the leash. As soon as we got outside on the deck, Scamp showed up. We walked Tzar out of the yard, to the driveway, out the driveway to the street. Then, across the street, and down the block - altogether, about 400 yards from the deck, which is Scamp's safety place. Walking maybe 10 feet behind us was Scamp. (We found this to be unbelievable!) A power company truck was parked 3 doors down the street with a man up in the bucket, about 30' off the ground. He looked down, saw Bec, saw me, saw Tzar, and saw Scamp .... and said, "Oh my God! What am I seeing? Is that a REAL fox?" I called Scamp to me, gave him some food, and scratched him for a minute. The guy in the truck was incredulous. I'd loved to have heard that story when he went home for dinner. Somehow, I don't think he sees that sight every Sunday afternoon.
9/18 - Day 131: Scamp is SIX MONTHS OLD! He's definitely caching food. This morning I watched him dig up a squirrel leg, shake it off, toss it around and roll on it, then settle down and eat his snack. He did this within 5 feet of Tzar, and neither showed any aggression. We added a lot of new pics of Scamp doing bitework and jumping on my shoulder. I didn't take any pictures of the scratches. See pics, Page 10. We've also noticed he's about 100% more affectionate with us since Tzar arrived. And they seem to have established some rules between them for now, at least. Scamp has charged and nipped Tzar a few times, and Tzar is getting less pushy. Weight: 9 pounds! This puppy is growing!
9/20 - Day 133: Took 3 pics showing Scamp trying (unsuccessfully) to get to the tennis ball in a holder. He got pretty intense about it, scratching, biting, and digging. It's amazing that he has any interest in a tennis ball at all, and now he's started growling about it a little. Kind of "my possession" type thing. We're noticing more subtle behaviors lately, too. Today, we thought he had a belly ache, because he was a little sensitive when I was brushing his chest and belly. It's impossible to know exactly what Scamp is eating because he's finding so much of his own food. Last night, we heard some definite Scamp noises from our neighbor's yard, and they were the kind of noises he would make to threaten a dog. Maybe he faced off with a cat, dog, coon, or possum - it's impossible to know, and that worries us a little.
9/24 - Day 137: Scamp has been disappearing about 8:00pm for the last several nights, and doesn't come when we call him. We're not sure where he's going, but that's unusual behavior for Scamp. He's been right back in our yard in the mornings, though. Today, he brought home an extra large, dirty Tshirt. No idea whose yard that came from, but considering the mechanics of Scamp having to drag the shirt over or through fences, it's a surprising feat.
Ever seen a fox in a bathtub being shampooed? Check pics Page 10. Recent game development with Tzar ..... without any question Scamp gets Tzar playing and chasing him. We have some cut down trees, Scamp can zoom thru the branches far better than Tzar, who is now 12 weeks old and 50 times as clumsy as Scamp. He literally waits for Tzar to continue the game. At some point, Tzar gets confused, and loses track of where Scamp is in all the limbs and growth. Scamp goes back and finds Tzar so the game can go on. Watching this is hysterical. Not only can Scamp leap, he can climb, too - this just confuses Tzar all the more.
The story of Scamp may be over.
10/12 - Day 155: Our grey fox, Scamp, has not returned for over 2 days. The last time he was here was Wednesday, October 10, at about 9:00pm. As usual, on Wednesday, he had snacks, we played with him, brushed him, he played with Tzar the puppy, and he seemed just fine. He came in the office and curled up in "his" chair, to watch TV with us and Tzar. He hopped up on me on the sofa, laid on my chest, and got his belly scratched. Very typical "evening" behavior, nothing unusual. After an hour or two in the office, we let Scamp and Tzar outside, they played in the yard and driveway. Scamp headed over towards the fence, and probably went searching for food, as he always does. We went into the house with Tzar, and that's the last time we've seen Scamp.
Until now, Scamp's schedule has been very predictable. Since he's been living outdoors (June 15), he has never failed to show up for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Sometimes he's around the deck area all day long. We have been feeding him less food, encouraging him to hunt more, but the snacks haven't changed. He's always shown up at least 3 times a day. We know something's wrong.
We've been terribly worried about him. We can't help but think that a dog, or car, or some other disaster has prevented him from returning. We'd like to believe he met a vixen and is "moving", but that's not quite as logical in these circumstances. I would think he'd stay away more gradually if that were so.
This may be the worst part of being emotionally involved with an "outdoor" fox. It might be easier to know he was killed by a car, than to worry, worry, worry, and search the neighborhood at all hours. We probably look ridiculous, wandering all around, rattling his snack cup and calling for him. We've searched and searched, but so far, no results.
10/23 - Still no sign of Scamp.
About 1 year later: Our recently-divorced neighbor came here to tell us her ex-husband shot and killed Scamp.
Then he skinned him, and hung the skin on the shed behind their house. It is illegal for me to find the ex-husband and blow his brains out with a .45 or a 12 gauge riot gun.