Walkers mistake woman’s pet FOX for a dog as she walks it around Sheffield parks
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Gina Younge, who is an animal trainer and teaches animal management at Barnsley College, has been looking after three-year-old white fox Sprocket since he was a baby.
She originally bought him when she went round local schools teaching children about different animals, and he has grown into a family pet with his own enclosure in the garden and even befriended the family’s pet labrador Jasper.
And even though he is a bit more wary around people than a dog or a cat would be, Sprocket has proven popular with Gina’s neighbours, who he often lets pet him when he is on walks with Gina and her partner Adam.
“I originally bought Sprocket when he was six-weeks-old as I wanted a showstopper for my demonstrations in schools,” Gina explained. “I used to do shows where I taught schoolchildren about more unusual animals they didn’t often see, like foxes, racoons and meerkats.
"At first he lived in our house, and he made instant best friends with Jasper.
"Now he lives in an enclosure outside because foxes need a lot of space.”
Gina explained what it was like owning a pet fox, and said that although people often say they want one when they meet Sprocket, it is not suitable for somebody who is not well-trained with animals.
"Foxes are genetically like dogs, but they behave more like cats,” she explained.
"They jump on everything and they like to scratch, so if you have an older one in your house it will destroy everything.
"I walk Sprocket every day for one or two hours, using a long lunge line like you would use for horses. We spend quite a lot of time with him.
"We really enjoy looking after him. He’s really funny and his character is amazing.
"He can be absolutely crazy. He bounces off the walls and has so much energy. He can be really vocal as well.
"He can be quite moody, but most of the time he is in a good mood and he lets people stroke him. He lets Adam and I pick him up and pet him all the time.
"People often stop as we walk in the park and ask what breed of dog he is, and they they see his big ears and his brush tail. They usually want to come over and say hello and so far everybody around here has been really positive.”