A few weeks ago, our very beloved fox Loki passed away due to kidney failure. He was with us for nine glorious years, quite long for a fox that had been so inbred. He was the result of a long-term breeding experiment in Russia to study the process of domestication. Loki was deeply loved by everyone here and touched the heart of every visitor lucky enough to meet him. A new volunteer here when Loki passed away commented, “I can tell how special he was by how sad everyone here is and how they speak of him.” Indeed.
He helped us through difficult days and brought us great joy with his love of life, warmth, and affection.
One of our animal caretakers Celeste, was moved to write about him.
Finding the words to describe Earthfire’s sanctuary fox, Loki, has been difficult—an aching reminder that he is no longer tangible. Yet telling his story is a joyful reminder that he lived, that we had the honor of loving him, and that he was a teacher to those who knew him. I know he taught me a thing or two in my all too brief time caring for him.
Loki was surrendered to Earthfire Institute by his former “mother” Amanda after learning she could no longer care for him legally once she moved to Idaho. After many questions about our institution and how we handle our resident wildlife, she reluctantly concluded that it would be a fitting residence for the beloved kit. He arrived in her arms, along with his precious stuffed animals. Upon his arrival, it was obvious that Loki was no wild fox—his odd coloring told us as much. He was mottled black and white with large, spotted ears. His black rimmed eyes contrasted greatly with the brilliant white fur that covered the remainder of his foxy face. The black markings just beneath his nose resembled a mustache, and the rest of his frame had similar black and white markings. No, he certainly was not wild, but he was a fox nonetheless.
After becoming more familiar with Loki, it was apparent that his temperament also differed from that of a typical fox. He was tremendously friendly, unafraid of humans, and easily accepting of being on the receiving end of affection. Even so, Loki still harbored distinctive traits of his wild counterparts, such as his exuberant spirit and a fierce possessiveness of food and anything he deemed belonged to him. The latter is something I can firmly attest to.
It was a beautiful day, sunny and warm, with a pleasant breeze welcomed deeply by humans and animals alike after a blistering summer heat had plagued the sanctuary for an entire week. It was quiet—something that should have served as a warning for what was to come. I had completed my rounds in our small animal compound, checking that everybody had fresh water and that no water buckets had been dumped by our more mischievous residents. Loki laid sprawled on his platform, soaking up the sunshine. Was he a fox, or was he a lizard?
He must have noticed my gaze as his sweet fox whimpers sang to me, and I couldn’t resist the urge to run my fingers through his soft coat. I entered the enclosure, and began to stroke the top of his head, focusing my attention behind his ears. He whined and kicked his leg with pleasure, and it took all of my self restraint to steer clear of his tempting cotton bud tail, something I learned quickly he was not fond of.
Lost in the magic of this gentle moment, I failed to detect my radio slipping from my back pocket. The silence was broken by the abrupt sound of said radio smacking the floor of the enclosure and sliding just out of my reach. Loki’s gentle whimpers quickly turned to loud, excited shrieks. Before I could get to my precious radio, the fox flew down his ramp and beat me to the punch. He grabbed the device in his small but powerful jaws, squeaking and squealing with joy. I hadn’t seen his tail wag that fast unless it was lunch time or garden time!
I tried, to no avail, to retrieve what Loki had determined was his new toy. Every effort was averted with shrill screams of defiance and a defensive—but not quite intimidating—flash of his foxy rear. I came to the conclusion that bargaining was the best solution. Quickly, I fetched one of Loki’s favorite delicacies: a nice cold chicken foot. Once he caught wind of that tantalizing scent, his interest in my battered radio was no more. He got his treat, and I collected what was mine.
In this comical but educational moment, Loki taught me to stay on my toes. He taught me a great many other lessons as well. He had a childlike wonder that I couldn’t help but fall in love with, something in his beautiful amber eyes reflected a fire he had ignited in my own. He taught me to smile more, to laugh more, and to appreciate every beautiful moment, whether that be a tasty treat or the hasty retrieval of something important.