I used to have lots of interests. I used to be well-rounded and interesting at parties. I used to be nuanced.
OK, that’s not true. I was never nuanced. And I’ve never been much for parties.
But I DID used to have a life that did not revolve around wildlife. Remember Chuckles? And Da Poss? Well, they have cousins. Or step-cousins. Or rival gang members. And now they are living under our deck.
Meet Mrs. Fox.
Yep. A fox. She moved in right after we got back from our trip to New York. Right as I was feeling all self-righteous about how we Iowans don’t have rats hanging out in our streets and licking up the subway sludge, these were the events in chronological order:
1. My mom calls me as I’m sitting in La Guardia and tells me she has called Animal Control because there is a rabid raccoon in our backyard. Scout the mini-Schnauzer, she says, is safe. No mention of the kids, but I assume they’re safe too.
2. Our first morning back, we find the remains of an opossum on our deck. And by “remains,” I mean fur and a kidney. The poor ‘poss met his demise. ON OUR DECK.
3. We come home from school that very day and this animal was preening on a bench. ON OUR DECK. OUR DECK IS THE DISCOVERY CHANNEL.
What does a girl do when she has a mama fox and three baby foxes living in proximity to human children and a mini-Schnauzer? She calls this woman. Let’s call her Deb, and let’s also call her The Fox Whisperer.
Deb is a licensed wildlife rehab worker, and she has rescued all sorts of animals, from baby squirrels and raccoons to bald eagles and pelicans. Last year she rescued a bobcat who was hanging around a school playground. When she told us that particular story, I asked her if she would be open to moving in and protecting our family as her full-time occupation. Deb looked nervous at that suggestion, so I let it drop.
I know, I know. They’re really cute. And they are wild animals. They are both these things.
So Deb caught three of the baby foxes and was trying her darnedest to catch the mama fox. Our plan was to relocate this little family to another penthouse suite, one that was not as close to our house but still had a doorman and amenities. I thought South Dakota sounded like a good option.
Deb was phenomenal. She even used a live chicken for bait at one point. (Note: No chickens were harmed in the process of living this blog post. Please do not sic chicken activists on me. I’m busy.)
The chicken didn’t work. And then we realized that there were not just two or three baby foxes. There were six baby foxes. And there was a reason the mama fox kept looking at me like this.
SHE WAS EXHAUSTED. Her little fox nipples had had just about enough. She hadn’t slept in days, she was sick of all the barking and the bickering and the crawling all over her to get to dinner. She needed help and a nap and a really big glass of wine that she didn’t want to pump out later. And also, where the heck was the male who got this whole ball rolling?!
Perhaps I was projecting.
So we just left the foxes alone. We are coexisting. We are Discovery Channel-ing. And we are trying not to think about the rabbit’s head, single furry rabbit’s foot, and unnamed internal organ that Mrs. Fox left on our front step. Perhaps she thinks it’s a kind gesture, like zucchini bread.
I hope you’re proud of me. I chose to live in THE CITY, a city of around 400,000 people. And yet, I am like that Australian guy who died who loved animals. I’m a lot like him.
Happy weekend, friends. And may the only wild animals you encounter this weekend be the ones who who share your gene pool.
P.S. For your viewing pleasure, THIS, it turns out, is what the fox says. (This noise is a lot cuter during waking hours. Three in the morning, there is no such thing as cute anything.)