Saturday, May 18, 2024

Foxed By Thought

April 14, 2010 by  
Filed under Prose

Before explaining why I think animals ‘Think’, and my admiration for one animal, an old dog fox, it is necessary to set the scene, to make it easier to visualise his actions.

The quiet and beautiful setting in the English Cotswolds, with its small fields, quiet country roads where stone walls replace hedges and fences, at a point just short of the little hamlet where i lived the narrow road was bisected by another forming a perfect cross with the roads running North, South, East and West, each with it’s old stone wall boundary.My Bungalow on the southern road enjoyed a view over the countryside, the northern road lead back to the nearest town. The eastern road passed through a pig farm, and then meandered off to other farms.The road to the west was the interesting one, about a 100 yards from the cross roads,on one side was a small copse just a few trees, and some scrub bushes.This was the chosen place for an old dog fox to lay up and sleep during daylight hours. When he was in rsidence it was possible when walking down the road to smell that unmistakeable pungent aroma of fox.Inevetably this meant that a member of the local hunt knew that when they next assembled in the area, they could be sure of finding a fox to chase.

On this particular morning the hunt assembled, but before they could get started, the fox was off across the field getting a good start on the hounds. Eventually the Huntsman put his hounds into the copse, and in no time they had picked up the trail and were off in hot pursuit followed by the riders all whooping and hollering.

You can imagine my surprise when about 45 mins. later I heard the hounds returning from the direction of the pig farm on the eastern side. Then I saw the fox coming through the pig farm, and apparently running aimlessly in and around the pig sheds, before coming back to the crossroads and the copse where it had all started from.He looked a bit blown with his tongue hanging out, but still full of running. I had now been joined by my friend Poacher Bill, who seemed quite excited, he grabbed my arm muttering,’Now young un, watch this and learn summat’

The fox entered the copse, came out jumped on top of the wall, then gave an enormous leap rather like an athlete performing the triple jump,finishing up on top of the wall the other side of the road,he then ran along the top of the wall, back to the crossroads, and still running on top of the wall turned right on the north road wall and away.

Old Bill was now unable to contain his joy, ‘ I seed that ould boy do this trick afore, now watch those dogs and fellows in red coats make a damn fool of thereselves’.

The hunt meanwhile had been milling around the pig farm with all it’s confusing smells, they finally picked up the trail, and came streaming toward the crossroads, and into the copse, then to my amazement they suddenly took off, following the trail they had previously taken.

My friend swears that the old fox knew exactly what he was doing,first taking the hunt on a good circular run,then in case he needed more time deliberately confused them in the pig farm, before bringing them back to the start, then running on top of the wall not leaving a ground trail for the hounds to follow.

Do I agree with him? of course I do.

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