Last night around dusk, right after I got home, I saw a red fox skipping across the lawn. His* rear half was practically hairless, and he looked pretty scrawny. I also noticed that he was limping, his left hind paw never even touching the ground.
There are fewer things on this planet that can evoke my pity more than an injured animal. I have stepped over one-legged homeless people, but you show me a cat in a cone and I will hug that thing to death like we were in a damned Warner Brothers cartoon. Also, for some reason I always thought a red fox was rare/lucky to see. This undoubtely comes from my family, who also let me to believe the same of black squirrels and the great blue heron, though since then I've discovered that none of these are rare or all that lucky. I mean come on, who thinks a squirrel is lucky? What is this, Taiwan? Anyway, I digress. Seeing this little guy, hurt and ragged and freezing, I sorta freaked out and immediately I decided that I was gonna give this him a helping hand.
Now, mother nature can be a cruel mistress, and I knew that involving myself in any way, shape or form would likely exacerbate his predicament. I looked at that wretched creature and decided that I had to do something -anything- to give the little guy an advantage over the frozen tomb in which he now seemed doomed to rest for eternity. But there lay the question: What could I do?
It should be pointed out that a three legged red fox still runs faster than a two-legged Cotton. At best, he'd slow down enough to keep me in sight, but would never let me close enough to pose a thread. Since I couldn't bandage him or knit him a little fox cozy, I realized I had to feed him. Of course, I have no idea what foxes eat (though I'm guessing it's some kind of varmint?) and no time to sit around googling fox diets.
So, a few seconds later, I'm literally chasing this poor bastard through the woods, a half-pound of sliced turkey in one hand, and slices of tomato in the other, shouting at it to slow down. He never did. So I left him a trail of meat and tomato leading him away from the spots where I always see evidence of hunters (ATV tracks, treestands, arrows, etc...) and towards the nice little statue of St. Francis of Assisi** in the yard. That way he'd just KNOW he was safe!
Well, the next day the trail was entirely gone, which means that at the very least, SOMETHING got fed. I like to think it was the little fox, knowing I was just trying to give him a boost. Of course, it wasn't until I got back to the house that I realized that he probably found the trail at the statue (where I'd first seen him yesterday) and followed it right to hunter alley. Yeah.
So yeah, I'm not going to dwell on how much worse I might've made things for the little guy. Instead, I'm going to make myself a turkey sandwich and try to forget about it.
*Listen, I have no idea the sex of this animal, but I just went with male. My apologies if I'm wrong.
**I don't know enough about saints, specifically their feast days, but wouldn't his have to be all vegetarian? It would certainly make sense....
(Please note that I resisted the tempation to post a picture of Redd Foxx with this post, though every time I image search for him, I'm reminded of 200 awesome photos)