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Half a century ago, Belgian Zoologist Bernard Heuvelmans first codified cryptozoology in his book On the Track of Unknown Animals.

The Centre for Fortean Zoology (CFZ) are still on the track, and have been since 1992. But as if chasing unknown animals wasn't enough, we are involved in education, conservation, and good old-fashioned natural history! We already have three journals, the largest cryptozoological publishing house in the world, CFZtv, and the largest cryptozoological conference in the English-speaking world, but in January 2009 someone suggested that we started a daily online magazine! The CFZ bloggo is a collaborative effort by a coalition of members, friends, and supporters of the CFZ, and covers all the subjects with which we deal, with a smattering of music, high strangeness and surreal humour to make up the mix.

It is edited by CFZ Director Jon Downes, and subbed by the lovely Lizzy Bitakara'mire (formerly Clancy), scourge of improper syntax. The daily newsblog is edited by Corinna Downes, head administratrix of the CFZ, and the indexing is done by Lee Canty and Kathy Imbriani. There is regular news from the CFZ Mystery Cat study group, and regular fortean bird news from 'The Watcher of the Skies'. Regular bloggers include Dr Karl Shuker, Dale Drinnon, Richard Muirhead and Richard Freeman.The CFZ bloggo is updated daily, and there's nothing quite like it anywhere else. Come and join us...

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Thursday, January 29, 2009

GUEST BLOGGER BETH TYLER-KING: Life with Millie

People at the last Weird Weekend will have noticed a bric-a-brac stall incongrously situated between a bookstall and a specialisr publisher.

Behind the stall you would have seen a pretty young lady called Beth, and on the sunday she was joined by two newborn kittens which were - I think - a bigger draw to Weird Weekenders of all ages than anyone except possibly Ronan.

Her name is Beth Tyler-King and for years she has been involved in Wildlife Rescue, first in Bristol, and now in Hartland. She has become a good friend of the CFZ, and like all our friends she has been persuaded to write for the bloggo...

One morning in May 2008 my dogs started barking crazily. It usually means someone is walking up the garden path, so I opened the front door and found a lady called Fiona leaning over my front gate. I walked over to her to hear her say, “Can you take a fox cub”? Would I? I practically hugged her! It has been my life-long dream to hand-rear a cub ever since I played with three of them at an animal sanctuary many moons ago.

Fiona’s partner Adam had a little furry bundle wrapped down the front of his coat. A little head peeped out, her snout littered with scars. Scared eyes looked at me and my heart just went out to this poor little scrap. She could only have been six to eight weeks old. Fiona told me that Millie was profoundly deaf. She also told me that Adam had been driving along a main road five days before and had seen the fox cub running towards him in his headlights, being chased by three boys. He stopped the car and managed to grab Millie (who promptly bit him but he gallantly held on!)

He demanded of the boys what their intentions were but they just shrugged and said “Nothing”. Adam said, “Well she’s coming home with me”. Adam is a hero!


To their absolute credit, Fiona, Adam and their children really turned Millie around as she was snappy and extremely traumatised at first but she became relaxed after a while and slept on the children’s beds at night. However, they were not able to keep her because of their living arrangements. I couldn’t believe she was meant to be with me, being profoundly deaf myself!

The first thing I did was call the vet and I jumped in the van with Millie to take her there.
The vet tested Millie's hearing and confirmed that she was indeed profoundly deaf. I asked for Millie to be vaccinated just like a puppy would be. Millie, although was quite scared, behaved impeccably.

I took Millie home armed with some Advocate (wormer and flea treatment) and proceeded to give her a Tea tree bath. She was amazing, took it all in her stride! I towelled her down and she looked so cute! Like a fluffy ball.

The real battle I had was trying to get her to eat. I scoured the Internet to learn all I could about foxes and discovered that it’s very good for foxes to have a chicken wing every day as part of their diet plus anything that is raw. I drove to my local butchers and bought up all the chicken wings they had in stock plus I stocked up on raw steak, raw liver, raw lambs liver, raw minced meat; you name it, I bought it! And would the little tinker eat any of it? No.

Over the next few days I was practically tearing my hair out at her complete disinterest in food yet she had the energy of a typical puppy. She tore around the bungalow terrorising my cats (all thirteen of them) and once she had done several circuits in this mad whirlwind manner she would then sleep for several hours on my bed looking so endearing.
I bought cat gourmet food, dog gourmet food, (usually about a million pounds for a tiny two inch pot) and yes, she loved the cat gourmet ones but quickly went off these. I then realised I still had a fantastic veterinary product in stock called a/d - a prescription diet usually given to animals recovering from operations or who have no appetite or who need building up. She ravished these with passions and at £1.30 (US$2) for a small tin and getting through four of these a day she wasn’t exactly cheap to keep! Still, it kept me from worrying about her incredibly fussy appetite for the time being, until I could find something she would eat. I did discover though from chance (preparing my tea one night) that she loved grated cheese and cake…..

I took Millie along to several infant's schools and residential homes in the early days of being a cub and she was a source of fascination to everyone who stroked her, many exclaiming they had never “been this close to a real live fox before!” I wanted people to see that foxes, although considered pests by farmers, are beautiful animals at heart and have feelings and fears too.

Millie slept on my bed at night, curling up on the pillow next to mine. My heart just melted when I looked at her and I wondered how anyone could willingly hunt these animals in such a barbaric fashion and willingly watch them being torn apart by a pack of dogs. Surely it would be better to humanely shoot foxes if they are killing livestock than hunting them in this way!

One night I went to get into my bed (Millie was sound asleep on her usual pillow) and I discovered a “puddle” on my pillow that had steeped into the sheets and duvets. Well, no, actually it was a lake! Millie had done a piddle on my bed!
After that I am afraid Millie was banished to the conservatory at night, where she did in fact have her own settee all to herself, plus the use of a TV. To this day she loves it there and firmly considers it her domain. If any of my dogs dare to go in there they are rapidly chased out by a Millie with her ears back, her mouth open and making little funny noises. If I go in there to clean it up she is chasing me around, jumping at my legs as if to say “Leave that alone, oh no what are you doing now, it was fine the way it was, oh no, you’ve completely ruined it all for me now!”

One time, Millie was probably about four months old when I discovered her passion for things in bags. I had been filling in a few holes in my garden using a bag of cement and had half a bag left. I rolled up the brown paper bag with the cement that was left in it and put it on the floor in the conservatory. The next morning I walked into the conservatory and I just could not believe the scene of utter devastation that awaited me, there was grey dust everywhere and I mean everywhere. The mess was colossal. And I looked over to Millie who I am sure looked at me as if to say “What? It wasn’t me it was the cats.”

It took me two hours to sweep, sweep, clean and mop the entire nine metres of flooring. I really did have to laugh though at the thought of Millie throwing that brown paper bag around in the night saying “Whee, look at me isn’t this absolute fun.” Wish I had had CCTV; that would have been hilarious to watch back.

It took me some time to realise that I would have to be so vigilant with the things I left out so most things had to be shut away or nailed down. On one occasion I did leave a brand new bag of cat litter (not opened) on the floor and Millie decided it would be great fun to tear the bag open and spread the contents everywhere. If ever I was unpacking shopping, no matter how quick I tried to be at getting everything in the fridge or cupboards I would invariably go into the conservatory and find a ripped open bag of watercress scattered all over the floor, a bag of peanuts…….

The funniest time was when Millie discovered how to open my food cupboard doors. I had come into the kitchen in the middle of the night to make a cup of tea and in the gloom I could just about make out “blobs” all over the kitchen floor. I turned on the light to see that Millie had decided that she would be helpful and make me a “carpet cake” with the proceeds of my food cupboard. These included an entire bag of sugar, packet of tea bags, rice, cup a soups, oatmeal, jaffa cakes and crackers. Nothing was salvageable. All the packets had been ripped open, the jaffa cakes had been chewed and spat out beyond recognition. I just swept the whole lot up and had to buy some new cupboard locks the next day.

Millie was spayed when she was six months old. The vet who did the operation said she had never operated on a fox before. I stayed with Millie while they injected her with her pre-med and then I went home. When I went to pick her up a few hours later the vet said she had been so good! Think the nurse wanted to take her home! She sat in her cage looking so sorry for herself and quite dopey. I had her spayed mainly to calm her wild urges down, since she will never be able to be released. She had to wear one of those “lampshades” for ten days and she was an absolute angel. She tolerated it so well. It was nice to have no pranks for ten days as she couldn’t get up to much mischief with that lump of plastic round her head!

After Millie was spayed, she started eating like a horse and began to put on much more weight. I discovered she loved tripe so I buy it by the lorry load now for her. She will also eat cat biscuits with great gusto and of course she still has a chicken wing every day.

My mum made Millie two little woolly coats, one red and one white. Because Millie loves it in the conservatory and its impossible to keep her warm out there that’s why she wears a coat, not that she probably needs it of course. I also bought her a gorgeous purple jumper one time with a fluffy collar and a pink jumper too. She moans at me and grumbles when I am fitting new outfits on her but despite her complaints she doesn’t and never has bitten me.
In September last year (four months after Millie arrived) I was given two kittens to hand rear. They were both just a day old, having been found in a puddle. When they were four months old I introduced them to Millie and they are now all the best of friends, often sleeping together and playing together. Sometimes when I give Millie a piece of tripe one of the kittens will literally take it out of her mouth and Millie lets her! I am then running after the kitten retrieving the tripe to give back to poor patient Millie!

Millie has a really sweet nature and I am truly blessed that she is in my life. If I hadn’t have experienced it myself I would hardly have believed that a fox could very happily live a domestic life surrounded by dogs and cats. I hope as I end this little story of Millies first year that I can continue to give her a happy and contented life.

And what has this story got to do with cryptozoology? Nothing. What has it got to do with overcoming peopl'es preconceptions about animals? Everything. I rest my case.

6 comments:

Syd said...

Well done Beth, such a heart warming story.
Foxes are such beautiful and intelligent creatures and there needs to be more education about them (and all other wild life) in schools, so that future generations grow up to appreciate the glory of the natural world.

gismojac said...

What are you going to take in next? Dear Beth, you are such a dear with all the animals,its so good to have someone like you in this world, who will look after any animal no matter what size or disability.
Keep up the good work, hope to see you one day soon,
Jackie
xxx

Kit said...

Being an animal lover and a fan of foxes I am happy to see such a wonderful act of kindness like this, the world really does need more people like you. You remind me of my friend "T", I dont think shes ever taken in a fox before but shes taken in plenty of skunks.

Desdemona said...

It's interesting that an animal classified under canine would find the company of felines so much more pleasing.
I'm glad there are people in the world like you, thank you for taking care of Millie and all the rest.
God bless you.

shelagh said...

What a wonderful story - I am curious though - is Millie housetrained now? No more piddles on the bed?

Hearing Times said...

Dear Beth,

I am featuring your story in the January issue of Hearing Times, a newspaper for deaf and hard of hearing people, their friends and families. www.hearingtimes.co.uk

I was wondering if you would be able to send me a photo of Milly?

Our deadline is Monday 4th January.

Manay thanks,
Helen Dewey
Assistant Editor.
helen@hearingtimes.co.uk