This article was found in the November 1951 issue of Progress, the monthly magazine of the Romford Congregational Church
I suppose that most church members keep either a dog or a cat, but I imagine that few Congregationalists have ever kept a fox in the kitchen. For the past two months Tod has lived an outdoor life, but when she was first adopted she spent most of her time in a box by the boiler in the kitchen.
She was dug out one Sunday morning in April, and brought in looking very rough and frightened. She was more like a rat than anything else, and with her greyish brown fur and a small tail certainly bore little resemblance to a fox. By Sunday afternoon she seemed to have settled down well and lay very quietly, wrapped in an old jacket on the couch in the sitting room. It was a relief to us when we found that she was able to lap milk because it would have been troublesome to feed her through a bottle.
For the first two nights of her captivity she was restless, and although she had a hot water bottle to cuddle up to, she screamed, shrieked and barked nearly all night. The amount of noise which she could make was quite astonishing. The crying of a puppy is a mere bleat compared with the bark of a fox cub. However, when she had learnt to take enough milk, she slept very well, and apart from one occasion when she broke out of her box at 2 a.m. and whisked upstairs for a look round, consequently alarming the dog, she was quite well behaved.
A soft leather collar was made for her and she looked just like an animated toy. We tried to take some snapshots of her at this stage, but had the greatest difficulty, as she never stood still. She took a mischievous pleasure in nipping the dogs' paws, and whenever she got near them her ears would go back as, hissing with excitement, she made a dash for their feet. In the evenings we used to have her in the sitting room where she ran about like a kitten, playing with balls of wool and paper, and stealing handkerchiefs from pockets. At teatime she liked to have pieces of cake, and was strongly attracted by the smell of honey. Macaroni cheese proved to be one of her favourite dishes, and she was very partial to chocolate iced cake, bread and jam, and raisins. It need hardly be said that she liked chicken bones, and at first would go into a wild frenzy of excitement at the sight of a chicken carcass. She would even shriek over a small bone, seize it, rush into a corner and chatter ferociously if anyone came near her.
During the day she used to spend most of her time on a long rope in a corner of the garden where she had a rose bush and a lilac bush to hide under, and a low wall to sit on. She enjoyed this place and spent most of her day sleeping on the wall or lying out on the lawn watching us play tennis. Although she was so nervous, flying balls never seemed to worry her, and she used to lie as close to the tram-lines as she could, and if a ball rolled near her she picked it up and took it to her lair under the rose bush. However, by the end of July, her instinct for digging dens became highly developed, and her corner began to look very untidy. She threw up dozens of stones and strewed the grass with resurrected chickens' feet which she had chewed, buried and dug up till they were green, and old bones and dog biscuits. Now she has a night ark of her own but insists on living underneath it.
At six month's old, she is a handsome and graceful creature. She has the red coat of a mature fox with grey and white underpants, and dark brown feet and ears. Her once miserable tail is a magnificent brush, very soft in quality. She grows very slowly, and I imagine she is not yet fully grown. Her large pointed ears and small sharp nose give her face an elegant shape, and she has excellent teeth. Tod looks far too amiable to slaughter anything until you give her a bone, when all her instincts are aroused. If she feels you are rather late with her breakfast she will take hold of your arm in her jaw and playfully pretend to shake it, and sometimes leaps out quickly and holds you by the ankle. However, it is all very good tempered. As a cub she never minded being handled, and never snapped if she was disturbed.
She knows members of the family, and recognises them after weeks of absence, but is very sensitive to strangers and strange places. Like a dog or cat she likes being stroked or tickled, and will roll over on her back to be petted. She will also jump up like a dog and wag her brush. If it were possible to breed a race of domesticated foxes they would undoubtedly make charming pets, and, while giving and responding to affection like dogs, they would keep down mice with the efficiency of cats. The only difficulty would be that owing the extraordinary speed at which they move, we should find it as difficult to keep up with them as Alice found the Cheshire Cat.