A woman was enjoying her weekend at home when she heard something that would frighten any mother. Her husband shouted to her that there was a wild animal in the yard, near where their toddler was playing. Read on to see what this couple soon discovered about the unexpected and rare animal in their yard.
A Furry Shadow In The Distance
David Scott was enjoying a typical Saturday morning with his toddler. The 45-year-old engineer was in the backyard with his kiddo having some fun. The two were headed out to go play on their trampoline, and that's when they saw it.
David noticed a furry, black animal that at first seemed to be no more than a shadow. He wondered if he was just seeing things, but then he noticed that it was starting to move.
Calling To His Wife
Once David realized that the shadow was moving, he did what any logical parent would do. He yelled! David called out to his wife, Anna McArdle. Anna had been inside when she heard her husband's call.
She told the Independent, "He'd gone out with the baby, and I heard him shouting that there’s a wild animal. He was a bit panicked by it." Anna must have also been quite frightened to hear her husband so taken aback.
When the mysterious creature heard David shout, it froze in place. David and his little one were also standing still. Everything seemed to be on pause as they waited for someone to make a move.
The one person who was moving was Anna. She rushed out of the house to see what her husband had been yelling about. After all, he did say it was a wild animal, and their young child was out there, too!
Is It Just A Dog?
By the time Anna got outside, the animal was sitting under a table. The way it was positioned in the shade made it hard to discern what kind of creature it could be.
Anna thought it may be a dog. There are plenty of breeds of dogs out there, and the animal's dark fur made it all the more challenging to see. Plus, it was behaving quite well for something that her husband suspected was wild.
A Closer Look Revealed Something Else
If it was a dog then the couple would at least have an idea of what they were in for. It's possible that Anna's assumption relaxed her a little, or at least enough for the animal to unfreeze.
It stood up and that's when Anna realized that it wasn't a dog. The tail was large and very bushy given the size of the rest of the animal's body. That's when it dawned on Anna what this was.
Could It Be A Fox?
Anna realized that the animal's tail and other features closely resembled that of a fox. However, foxes are red and this animal had a dark coat. It also seemed a little bit larger than the average fox.
Either way, Anna and her husband figured it was best to get their child inside and to safety. They slowly made their way back into the house. The parents figured that the animal would eventually go away on its own.
Not A Typical Wild Animal
Anna and David were having a hard enough time figuring out what to do since they'd never encountered this issue before. Wild animals didn't typically come into their backyard.
But then things got even more strange. The animal didn't scurry off like you'd expect it to. Instead, it came up closer to the house! It was as though the animal was used to being around people. Was it possible that this creature wasn't wild at all?
Peering In Through The Window
Though the creature walked up to the house, it didn't seem to be a threat to the family. If anything, it was just curious... almost like it was asking the family for some help.
The family was making eye contact with the animal through the window, and that's when they knew they couldn't just leave it there. At the same time, they weren't experts when it came to this sort of thing. They needed to talk to someone who was.
Looking For Answers On Social Media
Anna figured that the least she could do was post about it on social media. Perhaps someone else would know something about this animal. They still weren't even sure what species it was!
Anna took some photos of the animal and put them online. The mysterious creature piqued the interest of tons of strangers, and before long the post had gone viral! Hopefully, someone would know what to do about the poor thing.
A Professional Saw The Facebook Post
Anna turned to Facebook to make her post about the curious animal. She explained in the caption what had happened. She also mentioned that she thought it was a fox based on its tail, but that she didn't know if black foxes existed.
This information caught the eye of Amanda Lovett, who had formerly worked for the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA). It is the largest animal welfare charity in the UK.
Amanda Hadn't Rescued An Animal Like This One
In all her years with the RSPCA, Amanda had never seen an animal like this one. That's saying something considering that the organization saves thousands of animals each year!
The charity was founded in 1824 in London. It is now headquartered in Southwater, which is about three and a half hours from Anna and David's home in Alsager. Still, the charity was eager to make the trek across England to learn more about this incredible animal.
The Animal Was An Extremely Rare Silver Fox!
Amanda was able to get in touch with Anna and David and she informed them that the animal was, indeed, a fox. However, it wasn't just any old fox. It was an extremely rare silver fox!
Silver foxes have a condition called melanism, which is the opposite of albinism. As a result, their fur can be between silver and black in color, making their fur appear blue-gray or ashy-gray. Since they are so rare, they are historically among the most valuable fur-bearers.
They Had To Keep The Fox In The Backyard
Though Amanda was no longer an RSPCA inspector, she was still in the business of saving animals. Best of all, she was located closer to Anna and David's home! After Amanda left the RSPCA, she started a cattery right in Alsager!
Amanda figured she would use one of her cat cages to catch the fox. At the same time, she needed Anna and David to do one major task. They had to keep the silver fox in the yard!
The Threat Of Fireworks
It was especially important that they catch the fox because of what time of year it was. It happened to be Guy Fawkes Day, an annual commemoration celebrated in the United Kingdom.
A major part of the celebration is setting off fireworks, which made catching the silver fox all the more important. Amanda explained to The Mirror, "This was on Saturday, one of the biggest nights for fireworks, and we knew we had to get the fox to safety."
Catching The Fox
When Amanda arrived, she devised a plan to get the fox into her cat box. She, Anna, and David managed to guide the animal into the utility room. Once the fox was in a confined space, Amanda could work her magic.
She had plenty of experience with wild animals that enabled her to calm the fox down before carefully luring it into the cat box with a grasper. They still didn't know for sure if the animal was wild or domesticated.
Transporting The Fox To A Safe Location
Amanda found a nearby location to transport the fox to: Stapeley Grange Wildlife Centre. Though the center would take in the silver fox, they hadn't cared for one in the 25 years they'd been open.
Stapeley Grange was so willing to take in the rare animal that they even stayed open late to admit it. They discovered that the fox was a male and named him Shadow. It was a fitting nickname considering David almost mistook him for a shadow at first.
They Determined Shadow Was Likely Someone's Pet
Anna and David were the first to notice how calm Shadow seemed, and Amanda also noted how tame the animal was. The manager of Stapeley Grange, Lee Stewart, agreed that Shadow's demeanor didn't match that of a wild fox.
He told The Mirror, "It is likely that Shadow has been kept as a pet, and he has either escaped, in which case we need to find his owners, or he has been dumped by his owners."
Getting Checked By The Vet
A team of vets at Stapeley Grange inspected Shadow to make sure he wasn't in need of medical attention. They determined that the silver fox was in great health! The only thing that was noteworthy was his weight.
Shadow was slightly overweight, which explains why Anna thought he was bigger than the average fox. His weight was another sign that Shadow must have owners since he was getting regular meals. Whoever it was, they must have known what they were doing.
Not The Average Pet
Though silver foxes are sometimes kept as exotic pets, their owner can't be just anyone. That's because these animals have a unique set of needs that many households wouldn't be able to fulfill.
For instance, they don't do well indoors so they need room to roam outside. They also have an expensive diet that consists of rodents, rabbits, berries, and plants. Plus, they require visits with a specialist that can be more costly than the average vet.
Shadow Won't Be Released Into The Wild
Since Shadow has been domesticated, it wouldn't be safe to return him to the wild. Though silver foxes are the same species as red foxes, they need to grow up in the wild to retain certain skillsets.
If Shadow was wild, then he would have behaved very differently around humans. While his calm demeanor is advantageous in civilized areas, it is a handicap in the wild. Since Shadow is too domesticated to live on his own, he'll need a permanent home.
Caring For Foxes Is No Joke
Silver foxes have historically been bred for their fur, but some people like to own them simply because they are cute and rare creatures. However, RSPCA warns against taking one on without doing proper research.
Even fox experts have had a difficult time taking care of one of these animals. Though they are only the size of a medium dog, they are very quick on their feet and have different needs. Shadow will need to go to either a sanctuary or a specialist.
Shadow Was A Hit At Stapeley Grange
Lee Stewart, the manager at Stapeley Grange, told The Mirror that Shadow "is an impressive-looking animal and it has been interesting to us all to have such a rare admission." Though the workers loved having their furry friend, they were also determined to find him a permanent home.
Shadow wasn't microchipped, so that presented a challenge when it came to hunting down the owner. Ultimately, Stapeley Grange and the people at RSPCA were unable to find out where this silver fox came from.
Shadow Has A New Owner Now
In the end, Shadow wasn't able to go back with his former owner because the experts couldn't find any information on the individual. Instead, they were tasked with finding Shadow a new forever home.
It couldn't just be any home as they wanted to be sure that Shadow's caretaker could meet all of his unique needs. That's why Stapeley Grange set the fox up with a specialist keeper who cares for foxes specifically. Now Shadow is safe from hunters and wild animals alike.
Curiosity Paid Off
Anna and David could have just left Shadow to fend for himself, but they were concerned enough to reach out for help. It's a good thing that the silver fox strolled onto the property of such kind homeowners.
If Shadow had been left out in the wild for too long, who knows what could have happened to the exotic pet. Fortunately, the silver fox got the help he needed to live the rest of his life in great care.
It Started With A Boat
Mallory Harrigan, Cliff Russell, and Allan Russell always loved going fishing together. The trio loved it so much that they even bought a boat together to start their own commercial fishing business.
Living in Canada, they knew what kind of fish they could catch and what the local markets and restaurants would be interested in buying. What they didn't know was what to expect when they began hitting the waters every day in hopes of a good haul.
More Than Just A Business
Cliff, Mallory, and Allan were more than just business partners. They were friends, and they would help each other during the longest days and hardest times. Their new business could have tested that friendship, but it never did.
Every day, after hours on the sea, they would come home with new bumps and bruises on their bodies. No one would complain, and no one would quit. They were like brothers and were always excited to show up for the job the next day.
That Fateful Morning
On the morning that would change these friends' lives forever, Mallory was especially excited. She didn’t know what fate had planned, but she had a good feeling about something and showed up early to prep the boat.
Once everyone was there, the trio went through their pre-launch check off list. It was imperative they have everything they needed with them on the boat. Having to travel back to shore after launching would cost them hours on the water.
Prepping the boat was the easy part. They liked to pass the time telling jokes and and stories. They may have been old friends, but every morning felt like a 10-year reunion.
The next part can be described as "the calm before the storm." The water was calm as usual as the boat headed a few miles off the Canadian coast. They knew the perfect spot to catch crab off of the Canadian coast.
Letting Out Their Lines
Once they reached their destination, the friends turned off the boat engine and let it idle. This spot was perfect and was always full of crabs. They dropped their lines and let the cages drag on the sea floor.
It was the end of crab season, and while the previous weeks had been fruitful, they were hoping to go out with a bang. Since starting their business, this had been their most successful year. Would this be their most successful catch?
The First Catch Was A Sign Of Things To Come
With the cages in the water, one of them steered the boat while the other two manned the lines, making sure they didn't tangle. They knew this routine like the back of their hands.
As the first cages came up they couldn’t believe it. Their spot had paid off again and it looked like today was going to be their best day ever. They high-fived in celebration, emptied the cages, the prepared to do it all over again.
Moving To A New Spot
The day was going great. Allan, Cliff, and Mallory knew they had a chance to break their crabbing record. Finished at the first location, they turned the boat back on and set off for colder waters.
The further they got, they more dangerous things got. Colonies of seals could be seen resting on icebergs. Birds were nowhere in sight. But as beautiful and serene as the scene was, it was also filled with hidden dangers and surprises.
Iceberg, Straight Ahead!
Huge icebergs floated freely in the Labrador Sea. This was not the place to go on autopilot when fishing. One wrong turn could turn this fishing trip into the group's last.
Allan was on lookout duty when he spotted something in the distance on top of an iceberg. He pointed in out to Cliff and Mallory. No one could make out what the shape was. Mallory thought it was probably a seal sunbathing away from the colony.
Allan Couldn't Let Sleeping Seals Lay
Cliff fell in line with Mallory's theory. During their adventures together they had seen plenty of animals pop up in the ice waters from time to time. It wasn’t anything strange, so why was Allan acting so weird about it?
He probably couldn’t tell you why, but he did know something about what was on that iceberg kept eating away at him. He told his friends that it didn’t move around like a seal and he was skeptical. They looked through their binoculars and couldn’t help but agree.
Even though they knew they needed to keep fishing, curiosity got the best of the group. They couldn't take their attention away from whatever was stranded alone on an iceberg. They decided to move in closer.
As the boat got closer, the wind picked up along with the chill in the air. Then they noticed there was fur on the animal. Even scarier, the fur was wet. The poor animal must have been freezing! They decided until they knew what they were dealing with, their fishing expedition was on hold.
The friends approached cautiously in the boat. Not only did they not know what kind of animal they might have found, but they were going off-course and venturing into unexplored waters. Allan was convinced they were doing the right thing.
Cliff and Mallory weren't as sure as Allan was, but the friends agreed that they needed to investigate the situation. If it was an animal in danger, then they needed to rescue it. They couldn’t live with leaving it to die on their consciences!
A Slow Approach
The boat moved through the water slowly. The friends watched over the sides of the boat for any unexpected dangers. Any large chunk of floating ice could damage the boat and the last thing they needed was to strand themselves.
The waves had picked up, too, making the boat move more than usual. Mallory urged the group to be extra careful. They may have been excited about what they were doing, but they still needed to keep their wits about them.
Choppy Waters And Wind Picked Up
Without warning, a strong gust of wind rattled through the area. This made navigation even harder. Even scarier for the group, this unexpected windy whipping made the iceberg move. How would the animal react?
Now that group had more than just ice to worry about. They were terrified the scared animal would jump off the iceberg from fear. Mallory kept her eyes glued to the animal. If the boat could just get a little closer she'd be able to identify what they were dealing with.
Chasing The Iceberg
The situation had taken a dangerous turn now that the team was forced to chase the iceberg. They weren't just concerned with their safety, but also the safety of whatever was pacing back and forth on the iceberg.
They had to move fast to keep the boat near the iceberg. At the same time, they needed to remain cautious about the water surrounding them. Making matters worse, the day was half over and they would start running out of daylight soon!
The Animal Began Taking Shape
They finally got close enough to the creature to start figuring out what it might be. They could see it had four legs and looked similar to a dog. There was no way this was someone's lost pet, though.
As they predicted, the poor animal was soaked with cold water and was shivering uncontrollably. Allan, Cliff, and Mallory knew at this moment that they needed to do everything they could to save this animal, even if it meant putting themselves in more danger.
The Animal Identified!
After a few moments of disbelief, the friends realized they were staring at an Arctic fox! They didn't have time to figure out how it may have stranded itself. It was weak and there were birds starting to circle above it.
Not only was the fox in danger of freezing to death, but other animals were getting excited about their next meal. The friends jumped into action, desperate to make sure the little Arctic fox lived to see another day.
A Dangerous Rescue
With time running out, the group needed to work together to come up with a plan to save the fox. There wasn't a lot of time, and there was still one big question that needed to be answered.
Would the fox even trust humans with its life? There’s no way of knowing how much contact this wild dog had previously had with humans. That meant despite their best intentions, there was a real possibility that they wouldn’t be able to help.
Cliff, Mallory, and Allan needed a plan to lure the fox to them. First, they tried speaking quietly and holding out their hands to see if the scared dog would come to the safety of their arms.
The fox's first instinct was to run away. Of course, it had nowhere to go and ended up just staring at the strange humans trying to save it. It refused to jump to them, and they refused to leave.
Patience Is A Virtue
The waiting game was on. The fox showed no interest in the three friends. They continued to show interest in it though and they decided the best game to play was the long game.
Their patience was being tested, but they refused to give up. Finally, just as they were about to break, the fox stepped toward the boat. Would it take a leap of faith? Putting its trust in the hands of humans was looking like the only way to survive.
The fox got as close as it could to the boat. It wasn't strong enough to jump aboard however and looked to Allen for help. He gently picked it up and placed it on the boat.
Things still weren’t alright. Allan and Cliff grabbed towels to dry the fox and keep it warm but were hesitant to handle the scared creature. One wrong move and it could attack. How long was this fox’s trust going to last?
An Escape Attempt
Scared to death, the fox decided it made the wrong choice and jumped out of the boat without warning. Everyone was stunned as the wild animal raced in the water to get back to the iceberg.
The friends followed the fox until it ran out of energy. Allan gently picked it back up and placed it in the boat again. It scurried to a corner and stayed there, terrified of the situation it was in.
Back From The Brink
This time the team was going to make sure the Arctic fox couldn't get away. While Mallory was busy steering the ship back home, Allan and Cliff watched intently and waited for their moment to approach.
They knew if they couldn’t warm the fox back up its body would go into shock. They looked around the boat, trying to find anything to make the little guy warmer and more comfortable. They never took their eyes off the animal, though.
A Warm Place To Rest
From behind the steering wheel, Mallory suggested that they find a way to give the fox warmer accommodations. Cliff and Allan could only find sawdust, which they thought they could use for filled as bedding.
While collecting the sawdust, they found a plastic bin to put it in. This would make a great bed frame! They packed sawdust into the bin, hoping it would act as insulation, then placed it in an area on the boat with the most sun.
Getting The Fox In Bed
Allan, who up to this point was the de facto animal handler, picked up the Arctic fox and placed it in the bin. In a matter of seconds, the exhausted fox was sound asleep.
While it was recuperating, the team continued to get back to the Canadian shore as quickly as possible. The fox was okay for now, but surely needed medical attention to make sure it would survive long term.
No Rest For The Tired
Still about 30 minutes from shore, Cliff took over driving duties from Mallory. He changed course, knowing they might not have 30 minutes. Then he hit a wave and the fox woke up.
It stared up from the bin, terrified and exhausted. Looking to calm the fox back down, Mallory suggested trying to feed it. Surely they could spare some of their fresh catch. A good meal could do wonders for the animal, if it was willing to take food from humans.
All Turf, No Surf
The fox was dry now, and the bin had indeed helped warm it up. Mallory offered the fox some fish and crab but it looked away, disinterested. There had to be something it would eat?
Mallory decided to look in the crews personal food supply. She found some Vienna sausages, which she soaked in water and put in a bowl in front of the fox. It sniffed the food, then scarfed it down like a ravenous animal. This was its first meal of the day, and possibly more.
Coming Back To Shore
The fox fell back to sleep after eating its meal. Shortly after, the boat began docking at shore. The noise ended up waking the fox back up. Mallory stayed near it, trying to keep it calm with the storm of noise around it.
Mallory spoke softly the to the fox. It wouldn't be able to understand what she was saying, but maybe her voice would help soothe it. She just needed to keep it calm until they were done docking.
Finding The Fox A Home
Safely ashore, the next decision the friends had to make was what to do with the fox. It was warm, dry, and fed, making this the last big thing to do.
True to her character, Mallory came up with the answer. She remembered there was an area near the docks that would be perfect to release the fox back into the wild. There would be no imminent danger and they could watch it safely reintegrate to its natural habitat.
A Room With A View
Not only was the fox's new location safe for it to re-enter the wild; it was equipped with a makeshift dog house! The structure was 10 minutes from the dock and very remote.
They searched the area for the dog house. They knew it was located on the bluffs, but were uncertain of its exact location. Cliff carried the fox the whole way, doing his part to keep it safe while the friends finished their rescue mission.
A Successful Rescue
It took a bit of time, but the friends found the fox a house. As they had done all day, they left the fox as much to its own decisions as possible. They placed the bin near the house and waited.
The arctic fox stepped out of the bin, shook itself off, and walked to the house. It sat down at the entrance and looked over its new home. At this moment, Mallory, Cliff, and Allan all knew they had done something amazing.