High 53 °F
Low 35 °F
Conditions: Rain likely.
The fox appeared mid-way through the play session. It was late afternoon at the dog park--an acre or so of fenced in area bordered on two sides by busy roads, one by a small private airport, and the other by brush, bog, and a few trees. It was from the last of these that he appeared. Slinking and low on his haunches, he lugged his enormous tail (longer than his body in fact) through the tangle of raspberries and towards the dog park fence.
The three humans froze, mid conversation. They watched him creep along the length of the fence, then stop. “Will the dogs notice?” asked the man. We turned to see. The cocker spaniel and lab were oblivious to the visitor. So too was the canine naturalist—at least at first.
Maybe the winds changed. Or the hair on the back of her neck rose like it does when you know someone is watching you. Something like that, anyway. She whipped her head around in the direction of the fox, took one sniff of the air, and raced towards the fence.
We’ve written before about the fox family that lives in a pasture near our home. We’ve told you before about how Ari and the kits have a confused—but friendly—relationship. They look similar and sometimes even behave the same way. That makes them think that maybe they could be friends. But it never works, since she is hooked to a leash (and a human) and, in truth, they are very different species.
That seemed to be the way we were heading at the dog park, too. When Ari raced towards the fence, the fox began to bolt. But instead of retreating to the bramble and the trees, he stopped about 50 yards from the fence. He sat, ears erect, and watched Ari. Ari smiled and gave her best yodel.
That’s when things got interesting.
The fox responded with one of his own. Ari pawed at the fence. The fox rolled in the snow. Ari yodeled louder. The fox returned the greeting. And so it continued: one clowning move, met by another.
It was only the arrival of another human, along with her car and dog, that broke up the session: sending the fox back into the wild world he normally inhabits, and leaving us to wonder what this chance encounter might mean.