Walking through Wimbledon over the weekend, I came across the Dog & Fox pub. The name got me thinking about the relationship between dogs and foxes. The more familiar pub name is the Fox and Hounds, with the obvious link to hunting with packs of dogs. I started musing about why the pub name only mentioned one dog and one fox.
My encounters with real foxes are fairly regular but without much close contact. Once when out walking we accidentally disturbed a fox and our dog gave chase. Proof indeed that dogs seem to naturally chase foxes. I am not at all sure what would have happened had the fox been caught. It does appear that generally foxes seem to come off worse in encounters with dogs.
We have a meadow next door and can often see a vixen hunting for what I presume to be mice. She springs in the air and lands on all fours as she tries to flush something out. Our dog is always highly interested in her activities. Our lurcher will taker great delight in rolling in any fox poo left in the garden and would certainly chase the fox given the opportunity. She has little opportunity as the fox can get though amazingly small gaps in fences and can leap four foot fences with ease (fortunately our lurcher has never realised that she could probably jump them too). The fox is certainly wary and cautious but there is also an element of bravado about it and occasionally we see fox droppings on our patio, very close to our house. It almost seems an act of defiance as the fox delight in marking her enemy’s territory. You could call it being ‘outfoxed’
‘Outfoxed’ is only of of the foxy orientated terms we use and foxes do seem to have quite a positive brand image. There was Hollywood’s Fantastic Mr. Fox, an animated comedy based on the Roald Dahl children’s novel. From my childhood I remember Basil Brush, also a bit of a comedian. Looking through the dictionary for a definition of foxy it lists: crafty, knowing, sharp, tricky, shrewd, cunning, wily, artful and guileful. So I suppose it’s no surprise that there’s even a FoxyBingo.com website as well.
It’s pretty clear that dogs and foxes are competitors but I just think abut the fox as an important part of the wildlife of the UK. It’s when foxes run into people that they seem to have problems. For those who are interested in knowing more, I did find a useful resource from what looks like a pro-fox website thefoxwebsite.org.
I never did get to the bottom of why the Dog & Fox only mentioned one dog and fox. Can anyone else explain? In the meantime I may just have to pay a visit there to find out more!