Return of uninvited guests reveals animal kingdom, and joys of mud and men

Not again.

One Sunday morning, after I’d picked up the newspaper at the end my driveway, I spied a light brown furry animal trotting down the side of my yard. He returned my stare, and then slowed to look at my leashed dog.

The fox froze, then cocked his head to study me and my nutty dog who’d started barking so hard both front paws came off the ground. When the dog paused for a breath, the fox resumed his trot, dismissing us as if we had interrupted his own Sunday morning ritual.

“Not again,” I muttered as we returned to the house. Last year, that darn fox fathered a litter of six kits in my backyard. I thought we had scared the family away. Apparently not.

This time, I surrendered my Internet solutions to the local firm who had chased squirrels out of my attic.

“Oh he’s here,” the young professional confirmed after surveying my property. “He had a deer carcass halfway down his den. I removed some of it and set the trap with the rest of it.”

“Great,” I responded, wondering secretly just how the fox managed that feat find it? Kill it?

“Is the trap in front of the den?” I asked. Surely such strong evidence would make an easy capture. I didn’t want to hurt the fox, just get him off my property.

“Oh, no, they’re too smart for that. We found his trail and put it there. It should work.”

But it didn’t.

By that time, the fox had fathered another litter. As the kits mature, I learned, the parents become more aggressive and less cautious as they need more food for their young. So they moved the trap in front of the hole and caught one kit. However, they assured me that the family was still in the den.

With my own backyard family event pending, I told them I needed those uninvited guests removed immediately.

“I’ll bring my dogs,” another colleague offered.

So one misty morning he arrived with two dogs and reinforcements from another office. One man kept wandering all over my yard.

“Can I help you?” I hollered from my deck’s sliding glass door.

“I’m looking for the alternative site,” he said. “Foxes generally have at least one or two back-up dens.”

A fox with a Plan B. Just what I needed.

The dogs and men headed to the foxhole. I sat by my slider, paying bills and hoping this one would not be too big when the dogs’ owner tapped on the glass.

“We need to dig up some shrubs so the dogs can pass under the roots.”

“No problem,” I replied as a light rain began to fall.

Another tap on the door.

“Huge roots. We need to pull them out with my truck.”

“No problem,” I replied, again.

Another tap.

“We hit rock. I need an earthmover to dig it out. I can have one here in 20 minutes.”

And he did. By the time it arrived, so had a steady rain.

Four men, two dogs, and a yellow bulldozer attacked the foxhole in the downpour. Something about that scene reminded me of my son’s early passion for jumping in mud puddles and the time he and a buddy decided to camouflage each other with mud from head to toe.

Rain, dozers, mud, and barking dogs hunting an elusive enemy this must have been a grown man’s delight, too.

One last tap.

“Well, we got the roots and rocks out,” the drenched man announced. “But no foxes.”

“You’re kidding,” was all I could say.

“No, no foxes, but we’ve filled in their den. They won’t be back.”

“How did they get here in the first place?” I asked, thinking I need to prevent more dens in the future.

They probably found a groundhog hole, enlarged it, killed the groundhog, and made it their own.

My own private animal kingdom with a Plan B that is apparently in full effect.

Two weeks after the backyard dozer party, the furry critter was back, taunting my dog and teasing my cat.

Yes. Again.

This column was originally published as part of my “From Where I Sit” series at in Towson Times.