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Wes Garland: Webmaster
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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."
The Scamper Page
Along Came Scamp
The strangest thing happened here in Florida in May ....... On May 10th, 2001, I had never even thought about keeping a wild fox or trying to tame one. On Friday, May 11th, Scamp was living here!
He's approximately seven or eight weeks old, and he's a grey fox. I don't know for sure, but as a reference point, I'm going to consider his birthday as Friday, March 16, 2001.
Scamp showed up here in a wire cage with his two sisters and a brother. He was trapped by a client, Dale, who owns a pest control company. Dale had received a call from a homeowner to remove the foxes from her property. In Florida, grey foxes are considered to be a nuisance by some people, and they're often hunted or trapped because they allegedly kill farm animals, such as chickens. And they dig. They really dig.
Dale offered me all four of them, but I didn't think I could raise that many properly. I've got zero experience with foxes, but they're a lot like puppies, so I thought I'd give one of them a try.
We picked out the more aggressive male, who is now known affectionately as Scamper, or Scamp.
As expected, Scamper wanted nothing at all to do with humans, and struggled, bit, scratched, and fought to escape. Wearing a glove, I got him out of the cage and into a really large cardboard carton. This was to be "home" for a few days, but not for long. Foxes can leap, and it didn't take very long for Scamp to discover that.
Having worked with dogs for the last 20+ years, I knew the easiest way to "re-establish the umbilical cord" is food. I immediately started a program in which Scamp would be fed as many times a day as he wanted, but always directly from my hand, never from a bowl. We created an association - simple "kissing" sounds equals food. At no time did I make the sounds, unless there was food available in my hand for him. By not "lying" to him, he learned VERY quickly to come right to my hand and get his food. I didn't use the food as bait to attempt to pick him up, but rather, just fed him, and didn't interfere if he bounced away with the food, to eat it at a safer distance from me. We both required quite a bit of patience for the first couple of days - it might take him 4 or 5 minutes to come back for the next piece of food.
Thanks to the internet and the library, we discovered what kind of diet a grey fox typically lives on. Scamp will eat almost anything - dog food, dry, wet, or canned, table scraps, vegetables, eggs, cheese, nearly anything you can imagine. Apples and french fries are real high on his list - but his absolute favorite food is raw bacon. He'll fight with you to get to bacon! In fact, he takes bacon SO seriously, he actually growls when he snatches it from my hand. All other foods, he takes quite gently, and without a sound.
Within just a day or two, Scamper was coming to the hand very consistently for his food. He didn't show any interest in socializing with us or playing for the first few days, and would grab his food and run off with it. This changed after we tried feeding him bacon. He literally climbed all over me for the bacon! He also started jumping out of his cardboard "house", and we realized that we had to make some major decisions rather quickly.
Well, Scamper made the next decision FOR us! We thought we'd try a box of kitty litter, to see if he'd use that.
And he did - instantly. And regularly, too! As long as he could get to the litter box, that's where he'd go. I couldn't believe how lucky we were - that major problem was solved in seconds. Because of this, we decided to let him run loose in the office. He has plenty of hiding places there, all of which he's explored repeatedly. His litter box has graduated from a shallow cardboard box, to a paint roller tray, to a full size, 18 gallon Rubbermaid container, now that he can jump over the edge effortlessly.
Within about a week, he had grown about 20%, and had really started to accept us as his pack. He still ran away if we tried to pick him up, but didn't go far, and calmed down pretty quickly to let us handle him.
I thought he'd completely flip out if I put a leash and collar on him, and that's exactly what he did. I used a nylon tie wrap (a belt type thing for wires) for a collar, and string as a leash. After a few minutes of fighting it, he accepted the collar and leash, and just went on about his business, pulling the leash around the office behind him. At this point, we're going outside for walks. He's still fighting against the leash, but only about half as much as the day we started. Now he's walking along fairly willingly near me, and halfway accepting the direction I want to go.
While surfing around the net for interesting fox places, I came across an incredible story written by Albert Hillel in England.
It's titled "The Suburban Timeshare", and it's great reading. (Unfortunately, it's moved or gone.)
It's comprised of 37 chapters covering 4 years, so be prepared to either download it, or spend a long time reading online.