I like amazing things. It gives life a little pulse; something unusual I’ve experienced or seen engraves a memory. Last Thursday was an amazing experience. Sure, I saw a cardiologist for the first time in my life but I actually have known Dr. Lightheart for years. So, that in itself wasn’t so stirring.
When I came home from the doctors I stepped into the backyard to check on how wet the grass was so I could assess if I wanted to tackle mowing the jungle. I glanced over toward some movement along the south fence and saw an animal trotting toward the corner of the yard. I feared the rats were eating really well this spring and had a gargantuan growth spurt. I was pleased with myself that I remembered I had my phone which has a camera in my pocket. So I used my stealth moves and peeked around the corner and saw what I instantly identified as a Grey Fox. I snapped a few photos then banged on the kitchen window to get Jan to come out.
Then followed an event just like Abbott and Costello movies where Costello sees Frankenstein and yells for Abbott. Costello tells Abbott about what he saw and takes him to where Frankenstein was. Naturally, Frankenstein is nowhere to be found and Abbott hits Costello with his hat for wasting his time. So, Jan comes out and I tell her that I think there’s a grey fox in our yard. She wants to know what makes me think it’s a grey fox. I tell her I know my foxes and this fox is grey so it’s not a red fox. So she peaks around the corner of the house and just like Abbott, sees nothing. She’s about to hit me with her hat when I pull out evidence I’m sure Costello wished he always had, my phone. I flip to the photo and show her. Jan thinks it’s a coyote.
So then she comes in and Goggles grey foxes, coyotes and… quilting borders. Jan gets distracted easily. I yell for her again because this foxyote is on the move. Well, barely moving actually. When Jan had looked the first time it had hid behind my wood pile. Now it was moving into the open. She too was amazed. I’d never seen a fox in the wild before. We learned grey foxes are nocturnal and shy and if we see one around people during the daytime there’s probably something wrong with it. We kept an eye on it for a while. It would take a few steps then plop down, rest for a while then stand again. It walked gingerly and when standing it would tilt it’s head into the air and appear to have facial seizures. There were flies that circled the fox like miniature buzzards.
Our first thought was rabies and we called Animal control. I was told they don’t handle wild animals and was instructed to call Fish and Wildlife. The receptionist then followed by telling me Fish and Wildlife rarely answer so I was then given the number of the Sheriff’s Department. She was correct about the Fish and Wildlife department. Their voice message stated they were on unpaid furlough due to budget cuts. So I called the Sheriff. I was told someone would contact me shortly. Time, space and distance must have a different definition in the Sheriff’s department because after two hours we still hadn’t heard from anyone. We called again. A half hour later we received a call from a Medford Police officer who told Jan he was trying to get a hold of someone at the Fish and Wildlife department to find out what he should do about this fox. We wished him good luck with that.
He did mention though that he’s had several calls each evening for two weeks regarding a grey fox or raccoon in someone’s yard acting strangely. This is the season when these critters apparently come down with the distemper virus. It’s always fatal. In fact he’d never seen a live grey fox; they had always died before he arrived.
When he showed up we took him into the back yard. It was now getting dark but our flashlight illuminated this little fox curled up just a few feet away from us with his eyes closed. The officer said there wasn’t anything he could do until it died. He ruled out shooting it because it wasn’t attacking pets or people and just said call them back after its departed and someone would come out and pick up the carcass. Carcass is such a crude word, devoid of any life or humanity.
Jan and I went out back before we went to bed to check on Mr. Fox one last time. He was stretched out from head to tail, not breathing. The virus had completed its work. At least I felt better he died before the night turned cold.
I don’t know why the fox showed up in our backyard or how it even got in. One daughter suggested he thought our yard was more peaceful than others he’d stumbled into. Jan suggested since our yard is in a more natural state, maybe he felt at home. I hope he felt safe during his last hours. I think we felt an attachment because we often commented on how Kiska, our white American Eskimo, looked like a fox. This little grey fox reminded us of her. I appreciated the visit and another amazing thing to write about.