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Sunday, Dec. 02, 2001
There's a fox loose in the neighborhood.

We live on a cul-de-sac in the midst of a nice neighborhood. The yards are sizable enough to allow for suburban farmers like myself the option to consider a riding mower. I've been able to resist that temptation since Ford doesn't make one and I typically buy Fords for conveyance.

But it would have to have a cupholder and leather seats. And a decent sound system.

Anyway, the kids have reminded me a few times this week that they've seen a fox skulking around outside at odd hours. Looking lost. I was pretty convinced it was a dog, by their description (they're suburban kids, and are the sort who spend a helluva lot more time in front of the TV than out on the farm identifying wildlife). Until last night, when the animal police showed up.

City Animal Control Dude swept the neighborhood with his powerful door mounted spotlight for half an hour while sipping an expresso and calling his girlfriend on a cell phone. The spotlight had the desired effect of rousting critters. Why, half the kids on the block were out there in no time, gathering in a group like there was a fire to witness or something.

The adult homeowners came out too, but they were more into a coffee klatch type meeting. I think one of the women actually brought out a plate of cookies.

So with 20 people milling about, Animal Control Dude just kept spinning that spotlight. I'm sure any fox worth his salt took one look at that scene and just hunkered down a little lower in whatever cover he was hiding in. I mean, what, like he's going to just saunter out of hiding and walk over to the truck, open the door and shut himself in with the other stray dogs and cats?

Being the easily amused sort of fellow that I am, I strolled out of the house and approached the Dude, interrupting his reverie. Hey, I pay his salary with my tax buck, I'm entitled. He rolled down the window.

Outfoxed: "You planning on bathing my house in strobe lights much longer?"
Dude: "Well, I was hoping to see if the fox was around."
O: "Sure, it looks like he'd jump out wave his little arms for this crowd. How about killing the light, sport?"
D: "Oh, is it annoying?"

Short of yanking his $18k a year ass out of his shorts and triple smacking some sense into him I could see that there was little to be done with this miscreant. Then he requested that I allow him to place a baited trap in my yard. You know, one of those walk in cage affairs.

Outfoxed: "Know what? Here's a better idea. I've still got some #1 leg holds around here someplace. How about you let me trap him the old fashioned way. Or I'll forego the 4 hours of sleep I was hoping for and sit up all night with the .22 rifle and my night scope."

The Dude was horrified. "Oh no sir, no, we can't allow anything like that."

Like I said, I am the easily amused sort. The city wants to nab the fox, but to do it in a gentle and humane sort of way. Humane, right up to the time that they toss him in an oven and incinerate him. I'm sure the fox would appreciate their concern. Maybe they'd even allow the fox time for some grief counseling sessions with the City Strayed Animal Psycotherapist, or a jailhouse sit down with the court appointed attorney.

After a few more scowling looks on my part, Animal Control Dude fled the scene. One of my trendy neighbors, who I'm sure would have approved of putting the humane trap in my yard, called over.

Trendy N: "Hey Outfoxed, you need some help raking leaves?"

It's true, my yard looks decidedly more woodsey than theirs. No green manicured lawn, here. Small wonder I'm the one selected for traplines, the place looks like someone put a manure field in the midst of Better Homes and Gardens. It suits me. They all know my concern about lawn maintenance ranks right up there with my attitude about Trendy Neighbors.

Outfoxed: "Nah, thanks anyway. I've got to get on my ninja suit and sit on the roof all night with my rifle. See y'all later."

I'm pretty sure they thought I was serious.

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