It is with a heavy heart that we share the passing of Dickens the Arctic Fox. He came to Shy Wolf Sanctuary in 2008 after someone grew tired of him as a pet around their pool. His quirky charisma and playfulness soon won our hearts and those of our visitors. Dickens was one of two confirmed bachelors and shared his habitat for many years with Milo our silver tipped red fox. On cooler days he could be seen lounging on one of the benches the boy scouts made for him, while on warmer days he chose to stay in his air conditioned house. We had hoped to create a more natural environment for him at the new facility, one which could be climate controlled and allow him to play in snow for the first time in his life.
While Dickens was at least 10 years old, his passing still comes as a surprise to our volunteers and extended family. There is no definitive diagnosis, but his kidneys were failing and he seemed to have an autoimmune problem. A necropsy was done to try and find answers.
Dickens’ legacy will be one of joy and a playful attitude, jumping on our volunteers’ backs, and teaching children in Immokalee about Arctic animals and how their coat changes, even in Florida where we don’t experience the same seasonal variations. Our founder Nancy and other volunteers held him lovingly as we let him go to, hopefully, a place with lots of snow and the freedom to run and play as a wild fox would.
This little fellow earned his name by being a true character! He came to us when he was quite young still. A neighbor of ours, a couple of streets over, had purchased Dickens through one of the exotic animal magazines that exists for the pet trade. We guess he thought it would be a “novelty” to have an Arctic Fox living around his pool deck. Well, you can imagine what the pool deck looked like! When the man got tired of walking around & cleaning up the mess, he contacted Nancy wanting to “donate” the little fox to the sanctuary.
Although he was supposedly licensed, Dickens came with no paperwork, no vet records, fully intact and needing vet care…and the former owner wanted us to give him a tax donation letter for his “donation” of $2100. Apparently that is the going rate for Arctic Foxes. Dickens lived by himself for a while until we finally took in another charming chap named Milo. The two boys hang out together, play, sunbathe, and generally live the good life. You might notice by the photos that Dickens has two coat colors. Even though we live in South Florida, he still changes coat colors to match the arctic seasons with pure white in winter and white & grey in summer. Dickens is the only resident with his own air conditioner to help him through the hot summers!