“Court!” I called, peering across the neighboring field to the woods beyond. I was rewarded by the sight of a shape bursting from the foliage on the far end of the field.
“Ah,” I thought, “THERE’S my faithful hound!”
But I peered again. Wait a moment—that wasn’t one shape running; it was two! As the figures approached me, I realized that Court was indeed coming toward me, but there was something running at his side.
“Hey!” I said to my son Sage, who was standing at my side, “That’s a fox running next to Court!”
Sure enough, it was indeed a fox. The unlikely pair stayed together until they hit the fence line between my yard and the neighbor’s pasture, and the fox suddenly realized that two astounded human figures were staring at it. It drew up abruptly, gave itself a little twitch, and gazed longingly at Court in the hope that he would turn around and come back to play.
Unfortunately for the fox, Court knew it was time for his morning treat, so he didn’t break stride. When the fox realized its buddy wasn’t coming back, it twitched its tail and trotted slowly back toward the woods, casting a few reproachful glances over its shoulder as it went.
Since then, the fox and the hound have become fast friends. They love to play tag; the fox pops out of the woods and barks, a summons to Court to come chase him, which Court obligingly does. If I call Court from my side of the fence, Court faithfully comes trotting toward me. The fox, seeing its friend’s imminent departure, pops back out of the woods and barks again. Its meaning—“Come play with me!”—couldn’t be clearer, and Court can’t resist.
Court turns, chases the fox back into the woods, and resumes his journey toward his human. Unsatisfied, the fox repeats this ritual several times before it finally tires of the game and allows Court, now thoroughly exhausted, to complete his homeward journey.
There were a few days when I neither heard nor saw the fox and was convinced that my neighbor Jacob had shot it; I had, after all, heard several gun shots from the woods around that time. As a chicken owner, I should have rejoiced at the thought, but it left me oddly despondent; there was magic in the sight of the cheerful little creature appearing enthusiastically at the edge of the woods, begging for a game.
My sorrow was nothing compared to Court’s, though. He would plop down in the field and stare hopefully at the woods, waiting for his playmate. Alas, we remained fox-less, and all I could do was hope that Jacob’s hunting rifle had persuaded it to move to a less populated area instead of dispatching it outright.
But the fox has returned! It had a rip-roaring game of tag with Court last night, and both animals were exhausted but satisfied by the end.
Who needs Disney when this is a world where a fox really can befriend a hound?