It was very late – almost midnight in fact. Mum took us out for our last walk.
We walked down the street where we live and turned the corner into a dead end street where I would walk down the road to the gravelly part and have a wee.
Mum had George on the leash and waited for me to return and then I’m back on the leash and we walk home together.
I jumped over the low wall as I always did and was having a wee when I realised there was another creature staring at me. I was taken aback and so was the fox right before my eyes. He definitely wasn’t expecting company as he was on his night prowl and I wasn’t expecting another creature while I did my night business. He decided to take flight and my animalistic instinct was to give chase. And just like that we ran past Mum and a squealing George – excited by the sudden course of events. Fox and I ran down the street.
It was almost midnight and Mum hissed my name with urgency in her voice – not wanting to cause a disturbance amongst the residents in the nearby darkened houses and flats.
Thankfully, half way down the street, my domesticated sense returned and I stopped. I stopped chase and turned back sheepishly towards Mum.
Mum saw me coming and she had bent down to speak to me. I lowered my head – knowing I had done something wrong.
But I think I was also in shock of what had just happened. I am after all a city dog and encountering such a wild creature and to give chase – all sorts of things could have gone terribly wrong.
I think that will be the last time we’re going down that road for a wee at night. We’ve never been that close to a fox before. We’ve seen them a few times when Mum held my lead tightly and we just stared at each other before they quickly disappear from sight. I’ve chased cats before but never a fox.
May’s comment: We are aware of the many foxes that live in London. But they are as stealthy as they are scared of humans. Seeing one is a stroke of serendipity – and it never fails to stop me in my steps and we stare at each other for a moment. The fox wondering what he should do or which way he should run. And I am stopped dead in my tracks in a moment of wonder – wishing I had my iPhone on hand and turned on camera mode. It had never happened.
There are thousands of foxes in urban London. I’ve had three encounters so far. The first time was a very early morning rise and walking Darcy before we embarked on one of our journeys. We were down a familiar but deserted road at. that hour the morning when suddenly before our eyes was a fox, visibly lit by the street lamp. It was probably equally surprised to find us out and about and stood to stare back at us. His body was braced for a quick escape. I looked at it in silent wonder. As quickly as he had appeared he slipped away.
The next encounter was not a late night meeting. I had come out of a restaurant in Notting Hill – at about 8pm. While waiting for my taxi to arrive, a red fox dashed across the street right in the path of an oncoming car – driving at slow speed. It was lit by the car’s headlights. I, and the other nearby pedestrians stopped in our tracks and gasped. The fox made it safely into the shadows and disappeared.
On another occasion, again in our neighbourhood, on our late night walk around the block, when for some reason I instinctively looked to the left and caught sight of the proud silhouette of a fox backlit by the motion garden lights – standing majestically at the top of the garden wall. He didn’t move. I did. There was no reason to prolong his stance. What reason was there for me to stare? I decided to let it get on with what it was doing – searching for sustenance. It would have made such a majestic photo – but I never walk out late at night with my phone on me.
Actually, it was quite a funny thing that happened earlier in the day. I had not driven my car parked in the garage for about two months. I went down to get the car – and noticed that there were paw prints on the dusty windscreen leading all the way to the top of the car – and then they just stopped and disappeared – as that end of the garage was an opening at the top of the wall that led to the gardens above.
Foxes can be a nuisance and there’s much debate on how to deal with them. I am glad I don’t have a garden and need to deal with the dilemma of their visits. I savour those infrequent encounters. I find them magical.
But tonight was a different story. It all happened in a flash for all of five seconds. I was waiting for Darcy at the end of the street when I saw her leapt out from behind the low wall. She usually walks towards me after having done a wee but this time she leapt and ran. I stepped out to stop her for whatever reason she was running when I saw another creature. I thought it was her racing past me. Same colouring, same size but less furry. What was happening? And quickly behind it came Darcy rushing after it. I hissed loudly – DARCY!!! George squealed in excitement and wanted to give chase. I picked him up and ran after Darcy. Thankfully, her senses returned just yards down the one way street. She stopped and turned around. She didn’t run towards me. She walked, her body laden with guilt for she knew she had done something wrong. I bent down to scold her but I stopped. She lowered her head in shame. I think she was actually in shock that her animal instinct had taken over. I was actually worried that she might have been attacked but I think there would have been a scuttle. I felt her all over.
It could have gone terribly wrong but thanking our lucky stars it didn’t. Quietly, our hearts beating, we entered the gates and went home. Safely inside the building, at the top of the stairs, I hugged her. Maybe all that being strict paid off. She came back.