By Joe McFarlane
Disney fiction became reality as a real-life fox and hound are the best of friends.
In this day and age of live-action Disney remakes, Carrie Miller, 47, has the billion-dollar behemoth beat with her pet fox Phoenix, two, and four-month-old Labrador Copper.
The unlikely furry friends love nothing more than chasing each other around their pens in Teutopolis, Illinois, while Carrie watches on.
Carrie said: “I’m hoping they will be best friends forever.
“We wanted to get Phoenix a companion without getting another fox, so we decided to try a puppy.
“We are at work all day and wanted to give Phoenix a friend to help him pass the time while we were away.
“The Fox and the Hound was a movie very dear to our hearts when our children were little.
“They loved the movie and I think if given the right environment and are raised together, Cooper and Phoenix can be friends without knowing they were truly meant to be enemies in the wild.”
It wasn’t all plain sailing when Carrie and her husband decided to partner Phoenix with a canine chum.
Carrie said: “They took some time getting used to each other as Copper was just a pup and had no idea what a fox really was.
“Copper wasn’t scared of Phoenix one bit, he ate his food, went in his house and took over his toys.
“Phoenix on the other hand was very skittish of Copper.
“Phoenix very rarely makes any sounds but the day we introduced him to Copper, he made plenty of noise.”After getting Phoenix from an exotic farm in Indiana, it didn’t take long for the friendly fox to assert his dominance over his new human family.
When wanting attention, the youngster exercises his unique trait of jumping on Carrie and her family’s heads.
Carrie said: “Phoenix started jumping on our heads when he was very young.
“He is extremely playful and curious and loves the attention.
“If you sit still for a while, he will climb up your back and onto your head in order to get your attention.
“It takes a lot of time and patience to take care of a fox.
“They will imprint on one person and trust them for life as long as they spend quality time with them each day for at least a couple of hours.”
Nowadays Phoenix has to share the attention along with his new best friend, Copper, the four-month-old chocolate Labrador/Mutt mix.
But just like a fairytale, the two became furry friends.
Carrie said: “We let them play together an hour or so a day until we trusted them enough to leave them alone together.