The beloved Disney movie The Fox and the Hound has been brought to life by a vixen and a bulldog that have become the best of friends.
Pauline Ashanolla, 28, from Isle of Wight, rescued six-month-old fox Marley after she was found alone, frightened and very poorly when she was either being orphaned or abandoned in April.
Pauline has since dedicated all her time – even giving up her dream job as a dog groomer – to nurse Marley back to health and watch her grow into a gorgeous bushy-tailed vixen.
Along the way, cleaner Pauline has also seen a beautiful friendship blossom between Marley and her four-year-old bulldog Ernie, revealing: ‘They do everything together, they’re inseparable. They play with each other all day, they sleep together every night, they go for walks together.’
Pauline Ashanolla, 28, from Isle of Wight, rescued six-month-old fox Marley in April and has seen a beautiful friendship blossom between the vixen and her four-year-old bulldog Ernie
The animals are now inseparable, with Pauline revealing the creatures do everything together, including going for walks and playing
After rescuing Marley, Pauline dedicated all her time – even giving up her dream job as a dog groomer – to nurse the fox back to health
Pauline compared the unusual friendship between her animals to the real life version of the 1981 Disney film The Fox and The Hound
Marley was found as a tiny two-week-old cub by a couple and, unable to find a rescue centre who would take in the fox cub, they turned to Pauline, who has a passion for saving animals.
After receiving a late-night call from her friends on April 21st to say they’d found a fox cub alone on the seafront near her home, Pauline rushed to help out.
But the animal-lover was left stunned when she first saw Marley because the cub was so tiny she fit in the palm of Pauline’s hand.
Marley was also so ill, cold and malnourished that Pauline was certain she would have died if she’d been found just a few minutes later.
The animal lover was stunned when she initially rescue Marley, who was so cold, ill and malnourished that Pauline was sure she would have died if she had not been found
After rescuing Marley in April, Pauline spent six weeks syringe feeding Marley kitten milk every 90 minutes through the day and night
Pauline said: ‘Marley was so poorly when we found her, she was covered in flies and ticks. They were in her ears, everywhere.
‘She was throwing up worms, really big ones, they were longer than her. She definitely would have died if she’d been found just 15 minutes later.’
Over the next six weeks Pauline had to syringe feed Marley kitten milk every 90 minutes through the day and night.
Marley was also prescribed various medications for four months because she was riddled with worms and ticks.
But it wasn’t long but the young vixen began recovering and settled into her new home with Pauline and her pets
The animal lover said she was initially concerned that Marley might not be able to get along with her other pets
She explained: ‘After the first course of medication, it was clear she just wasn’t getting better so she ended up on medication for four months.
‘I’ve had so much help and advice from vets and fox rescues but it has been a big, big commitment looking after her.’
Pauline had just started training to become a dog groomer, her dream career, before rescuing Marley and was forced to give this up because caring for the cub was such a full-time role.
She added: ‘I’m very tired. She has aged me about 10 years and I had to give up my dream job because this little fox came along but it’s all been worth it to see her so happy and healthy.’
After Pauline tenderly cared for Marley for months day and night, the fox has now grown into a cheeky and playful creature
When she first brought Marley home, Pauline was concerned about how the cub would fit in with her other pets but thanks to Ernie, the little red fox is now well and truly one of the pack.
She explained: ‘I was worried about Marley at first and how she would get on with the dogs especially.
‘Ernie was terrified of Marley at first and she didn’t like him but she slowly started sleeping closer to him.
‘After I’d had her about three weeks they started playing together. One day they just started running around together and they have been best friends ever since.’
Pauline even takes her animals out on walks together, placing a leash on Marley so that she can enjoy the outdoors
The pals cuddle up to each other for every nap, enjoy going on walks in the woods together and love getting up to mischief.
She said: ‘If I take Ernie out for a walk without Marley, she gets so excited when he gets home. She goes mad, she absolutely loves him.
‘I call Ernie Marley’s babysitter, he’s my little nanny dog. If I need to get something done or I’m a bit tired, I’ll tell him “go and play with your little sister” and he does.
‘It’s so nice seeing how well they’ve bonded, it’s quite an unusual friendship.’
After a few weeks together, Marley and bulldog Ernie started playing together and have been best friends ever since
Pauline believes if Marley went back into the wild now there would be ‘no way’ she would survive
And the adorable duo’s tale bears a striking resemblance to that of the 1981 Disney classic.
Pauline said: ‘Dogs are usually used to hunt foxes but these two are best friends. It’s like the real-life The Fox and the Hound.
‘Ernie is so gentle and sweet with her, he looks like a little bruiser but he’s actually a big baby.’
Meanwhile, Pauline said that Ernie’s kindness had helped Marley fit in with the rest of the pack.
Pauline revealed ‘big baby’ four-year-old Ernie is ‘so gentle and sweet’ with Marley and looks after the little fox
She said: ‘Ever since her and Ernie became friends, Marley has definitely become one of the pack, bless her.
‘She loves all the other animals but she likes to wind them up. She’s like a child who constantly wants attention but she’s different with Ernie, he’s definitely her favourite.’
She continued: ‘I love her to bits, she is always happy and very loving. When she gets excited, she can be crazy. She does zoomies like a dog but parkours off the walls.
‘She’s very chatty and makes lots of weird noises. When I come home from work, she’s so pleased to see me and wags her tail.
According to the animal lover, Marley loves going for drives, with Pauline revealing ‘sticking her head out the window’ is ‘one of her favourite things to do”
Pauline said giving up her dream job of becoming a dog trainer was worth it in order to see Marley ‘so happy and healthy’
‘She loves going for a drive and sticking her head out the window. It’s one of her favourite things to do.’
As much as she adores Marley, Pauline is keen to hammer home that foxes are not pets and should be left in the wild unless there are extreme circumstances.
She said: ‘Some people might think it’s cruel that I’ve kept Marley but she is happy. She was so young when I rescued her that she knows no different, she’s not a wild fox.
The 28-year-old calls Ernie ‘Marley’s babysitter’ and encourages the pair to play together if she needs to get something done
Pauline compared the animals unusual and unique friendship to ‘the real-life The Fox and the Hound’
‘She imprinted on me, she thinks I’m her mum. Then she had to be on medication for so long that I can’t release her.
‘If she went back into the wild now there is no way she would survive.
‘But I definitely don’t think foxes should be pets. I don’t want people to see that I have a fox and think they should do the same.
‘If you like your house the way it is, you definitely don’t want a fox. Marley has trashed my house. Foxes are very destructive and they’re smelly.’
Despite her love for little Marley, Pauline is keen to hammer home to others that foxes are not pets and should be kept in the wild