By Aliki Kraterou
An animal lover has struck up an incredible three year friendship with a wild fox she claims is her BEST FRIEND.
Filmmaker Dora Nightingale, 55, first spotted a male red fox cub in her garden in Worthing, West Sussex, three years ago, in 2016.
A few days later, the fox returned and brought his sister, who Dora has now named Faith – with the vixen visiting her up to four times a night ever since.
Heart-warming footage shows the wild animal greeting Dora by gently nose-bumping her hand – a greeting normally reserved for another fox.
Dora, who has a long-term partner and no children, said she is never scared despite popular beliefs the animals can be aggressive.
Dora, who also has a 10-year-old rabbit named Silver, said: “I have always loved all animals, but I didn’t know a lot about foxes.
“In the summer of 2016, I was watering my garden and the little curious cub came up to me and played with the water.
“I was completely in awe, I had never been so close to a fox before.
“A few days later he came back and brought his sister Faith with him.
“She was very shy at the beginning, but she immediately captured my heart.
“They both grew up in my garden and spend a lot of time playing with each other.
“Since then, Faith has been coming to my garden every single night – sometimes four times a night.
“I am very attached to her, I feel responsible for her wellbeing and she is my best friend.
“She has had a profound impact on my life. My life is blessed by her in so many different ways.
“I never call her over as she is not a pet, she is wild and free comes up to me because she wants to.”
When Dora first met Faith in the small garden of her two-bedroomed home in July 2016, she believes the young animal was just four months old.
She began to leave peanuts, raw eggs, fruits and water out for the friendly fox and her brother to support them growing up, but by winter both had disappeared – leaving her worried something had happened to them.
Luckily, nine months later, in November 2017, Faith returned to Dora’s garden – and the pair have been inseparable ever since.
Dora said: “While she was gone I assumed the worst – I was worried for nine months. Only one in five fox cubs makes it to their first year.
“So when right before Christmas she came back, it was the best Christmas present.
“She recognised me immediately, she was healthy and she came to do greet me with a nose bump – It was like she never left.
“Personally I think the nine months Faith was gone was to teach has taught me a lesson – to always have faith.”
Faith now returns to Dora’s garden every night, expressing her affection to her human companion by curling up next to her to have a snooze or with a nose bump.
While Dora said she couldn’t feel closer to her foxy friend, she wants to respect her wild nature and said she never strokes or hand feeds her because this would not be in Faith’s best interests.
When Faith, who has never had cubs, suffered eye and facial injuries in February 2018 and lungworm, Dora mixed painkillers and antibiotics that had been prescribed by a local vet into her food to take care of her.
Dora said: “With the right care, foxes can live up to 15 years but in the city, it is amazing rare if they make it to five.
“I really worry when Faith doesn’t come, I always assume the worst but I try to keep the faith.
“When Faith arrives she often just wants to relax and hang out – sometimes she just goes to sleep.
“I can see she is alert when she first comes to the garden, but after a while she relaxes, yawns and curls up and goes to sleep – it’s her safe place.
“I have never tried to hand feed or stroke her because I feel that would be wrong – she is a free wild urban vixen and must not be tamed.”
Dora believes that foxes are misunderstood and said Faith has had such an impact in her life, she decided to become an animal rights activist.
She now creates films based on the foxes, publishing myth-busting videos about foxes and taking part in anti-hunt demonstrations.
She added: “Foxes don’t have a malicious bone in their body, it’s only the people who hunt for fun, not the foxes.
“They are an indigenous species, they have every right to be here as much as we do and they wouldn’t attack anyone unless they are threatened.
“She has completely changed my life – it’s not just spending hours spent to film her and taking care of her when she is unwell – she made me an advocate for animal rights.
“I really believe that foxes have a bad reputation and I am trying to change that.
“Foxes are more afraid of us, we are their predators and biggest threat and they know that.
“I would advise people to observe them and get to know them.
They are intelligent, beautiful and funny – and you might get ‘foxed’ just like I did.”
Dora now runs charitable organisation ‘Fox Guardians’. For more information: https://foxguardians.co.uk/