Blind fox becomes best pals with disabled Terrier – who acts as her guide dog
The surprising friendship between a fox and hound may have been the basis of a hit film for Disney – but it’s certainly not something you see in everyday life.
That was until wheelchair-bound terrier Jack met blind fox Pumpkin and the unlikely pair became the best of friends
Despite his disability – after a spinal tumour prevented his ability to walk – caring Jack has become one-year-old Pumpkin’s accidental guide dog, taking her on park walks and waiting patiently for her to catch up.
After a long walk, the pair love nothing more than cuddling up together at home, alongside fellow rescue dog Croqueta.
The adorable trio live with vet Ana Lapaz-Mendez in East Finchley, North London.
Ana, 42, says Jack “feels a responsibility to look after Pumpkin like a brother does with a sister”.
“It’s great that Jack has never treated Pumpkin like a fox, thinking he has to chase her,” says Ana, who saved both animals from being put down.
“I’m not sure how much Pumpkin is aware that she’s even a fox.
“It’s not the perfect relationship because sometimes Jack gets annoyed with her, but it’s like a brother and sister relationship.
“He tells Pumpkin off a lot when she needs it without hurting her, but I’m not sure how much she understands.
“If another dog goes for Pumpkin or tries to smell her, Jack defends her. He’s got between a cat and Pumpkin and told the cat off.
“Jack helps Pumpkin but he’s really naughty himself now he’s more independent and thinks he’s top dog.”
Big-hearted Ana, who works as a veterinary surgeon at Medivet Carpenders Park in Watford, decided to take Pumpkin in when she was found with two broken legs in October, and it became quickly apparent that the fox was unable to fend for herself due to being blind.
Jack, five, joined the family two months later when his previous owner died.
While he is now able to walk much better after building strength in his legs, he still relies on his wheels.
Ana says: “Jack was really slow at first and didn’t know the area so he’d follow me and then Pumpkin would follow him.
“Whenever she hears the wheels she will go in that direction. If the sound of the wheels are behind her, she’ll stop, do a circle and follow them. At night she’ll even run next to Jack.
“Now Jack can move better, he’s begun to be more interested in squirrels, but he’ll still come and check. He’ll walk off and then wait for Pumpkin. It’s become a natural thing now.”
Ana made Pumpkin a hammock for her legs to rest in when she first took her in, but it soon became clear that she needed the guidance of a dog on their walks.
Ana’s other rescue dog Croqueta, five, also takes her turn to check on Pumpkin but, as a fully-able dog, Ana jokes that she’s more help finding Jack when he gets lost in bushes.
Footage of docile Pumpkin following Jack closely, using sound and smell, has gone viral, winning the unlikely duo a legion of fans.
Instagram videos of their loving relationship have more than 100,000 views and Ana says her neighbours dote on the pair.
They also get ample attention when out on their walks.
Ana says: “When children are around they like getting close to Pumpkin because he’s a fox that won’t run away. Everybody loves them.
“I’ve heard a lot of people on walks talking about Jack and his wheels and then they see the fox is coming along too. There were too many people so we walk in quieter areas now.”
Ana is hoping that Jack continues to regain strength in his legs so he can continue to check up on Pumpkin and the pair can remain inseparable – despite Jack’s new-found obsession with squirrels.
Maybe the unusual family can invite in another new fluffy-tailed member.