“With foxes we must play the fox.”
– Thomas Fuller
I had a dream the other night that J. and I had a pet fox named Gordon. The major drama of the dream was keeping him a secret from our landlords who were snooping around tried to prove his whereabouts. Gordon was a sleek, sophisticated animal with delightful house manners, directly at odds with what I understand a pet fox to be like.
See, one of my favorite pre-us-kids tales of my parents is that when they were newly married and at university, they rescued a little fox from a fur farm and brought him home. Stanley (for that was his name) repaid their generosity by instantly behaving like a demon from the ninth circle of Hell.
He destroyed things. He ran away multiple times. He chewed everything. He was so hyperactive that they eventually tried tying him up while they were at work/school and he tangled himself in the cord to the point that he dislocated a hip (costing a hefty vet fee for starving newlyweds).
My father thought that foxes were sort of feline so Stanley might be litter-box trained, but that plan backfired. With a dog you can stick their nose in their mess, put the mess in a litter box with them, etc. and they will eventually connect the dots. Evil Stanley, however, only learned to infuriate my dad by trotting into whatever room he was in, defecating on the carpet on purpose, and then running to sit in the litter-box with a smug expression as if to say, “What can you do to me? I’m already here! Pthfffbbt!”
One day, Stanley ran away (again) and my parents disgustedly got in the car to search for him (again). After driving for a while, they spotted a furry smudge in the road, a tail fluttering in the traffic wind. My mother peered at it for a second before throwing her hands triumphantly in the air (which my dad likes to impersonate when telling the story) and crowing, “It’s STANLEY!”
Such is their hatred that years later, when they took me to their old university stomping ground to show my their first house, the church they got married in, and so forth, my mother pointed eagerly to a spot on the road and said, “There! That’s where we found that miserable fox! Ha!”
It’s too bad they are such terrors; I think a pet fox would be, well, fantastic!