The Baptist Fox by Neal Murphy

April 22, 2019 - The night of June 3, 2005 was hot, humid, and dry.  The drought conditions in deep East Texas had continued unabated all year.  Both man and beast were in search of cool air and wet water.

As deputies for the Shelby County, Texas Sheriff Department, my partner and I patroled the county, checking the security of businesses, churches, residences, and schools.  On this particular night, we were driving through Blair, a community on the far western side of Shelby County.  We pulled into the parking lot of a small Baptist church located right off the Farm-to-Market highway.  As we drove up to the church, suddenly an animal ran from under the church into the trees beyond.

Although we had gotten only a fast look, we identified the animal as a female fox. She gave a glance back at her intruders as she disappeared into the pine trees behind the church.

Larry and I mused that the fox was probably hot and was using the church crawl space to rest and cool off. Then, suddenly, a young fox peered at us from the church crawl space opening. He seemed not to be very afraid of us as he ventured outside the entrance and stared at us.  

The little fox probably was hot, hungry, and thirsty. Larry had brought along a sandwich to eat later on during our shift.  He eased out of the patrol car, opened the back door, and got half of his sandwich. He moved toward the small fox, talking to him gently. The fox retreated back into the safety of the church while Larry placed the sandwich on the ground at the entrance.
Then Larry found an old bowl, and filled it with water from a nearby water hose, and set it beside the sandwich.

After retreating to our patrol car, we sat and watched as the young fox came out of hiding, gulped down the food, and lapped up the water, ignoring his audience only a few feet away. Then he just stood there watching us intently long enough for us to take several pictures of him.

I left a note on the front door of the church advising them that they had a family of foxes living under their church.

Each time we were in the Blair community, be would stop and check on our fox family. We saw the mother a few more times, and the young fox began to run from us. His mother probably gave him some lessons about the dangers of humans and how to avoid them. Eventually, they were both gone, but they served as an interesting break for us while on patrol.

A church member jested that the two fox were baptized, and were never seen at church again. Seems I have heard that before.