Fox rescued after 100ft cliff fall 'tries to eat carer'
The latest resident at Lucy's Trust, the secret rural dog sanctuary in Co Antrim, is a bit of a vandal who has tried to eat her carer, and who turns her nose up at the less expensive fare on offer.
Yet, having survived a 100ft fall, Sianna the fox is receiving round-the-clock attention from the trust's owner, vet Olivia Kennedy, and is to have a range of exclusive scarves by Portrush designer Sarah O'Neill named after her.
Three weeks ago, Sarah and her fiance Al Mennie found the injured animal lying twisted and motionless at the bottom of a cliff near Ballintoy. The couple were walking their Golden Retriever, Blyton, and had taken a different path to their usual one.
"When saw the poor critter, we thought she was dead," said Sarah. "She was at a funny angle and looked like she had a broken back. Then, Al saw her chest rising and we knew we had to do something.
"I could never leave an animal in distress like that. We kept Blyton distracted to make sure he didn't scare the poor wee thing."
Sarah, who's nominated for this month's Irish Designer Of The Year Awards, waited by the fox with Al and Blyton, and called her photographer friend Rob Durston, Olivia Kennedy's partner at Lucy's Trust, for advice. With Rob's guidance, she eventually managed to get in contact with Liam McCullough from Causeway Vets.
"The phone signal was dreadful and it was hard to get a vet to the scene," she recalled. "We got a wee blanket and put it on her. It was about 7pm and total darkness when Liam arrived with a torch and a cage.
"He was brilliant and the fox was very quiet and docile because she'd fallen so far and had been lying there for days. He took her to his surgery for X-rays and observation."
To the vet's amazement, the fox hadn't broken anything, despite having fallen over 100 feet, but she was in severe spinal shock, with no feeling or movement from half way down her back, including her legs and tail. When she was stabilised, she was driven to Lucy's Trust and put under Olivia's care.
"The first 24 hours are always pretty crucial, and our main worry was that we had already missed that time period, as her skinny frame and severe dehydration meant she could have been lying at the foot of that cliff for some days before her saviours came to her rescue," said Olivia, who put the animal on a drip and steroids.
"She was very scared and weak, and just sat frozen.
"By day two, she chewed through her drip - a fantastic sign - and was much more animated and feisty. It became her sole mission in life to eat me; she hasn't succeeded - yet. By the end of day two, she had slight movement in her lower hind, although still no signs of deep pain."
Three weeks on, the extremely lucky fox has begun to make a recovery, and had been given the name, 'Sianna' (pronounced Shawna), by her rescuer, Sarah.
"Olivia asked me to name her and I chose Sianna, which means Celtic Fox Goddess," Sarah explained. "I'll end up doing a range of scarves inspired by her. She's so gorgeous now she's better. Olivia has done more for her than anyone would have. She is unbelievably dedicated."
Although Sianna has come a long way in recovering some function in her legs and tail, Olivia reports that she has problems in both hind legs and has not regained full function in her bladder.
Although a full recovery isn't guaranteed, Olivia is delighted to see her cute patient on the mend.
"She is not stressed, she's happy to eat in my presence, is not in any pain and is improving, so I hope you will join me in crossing everything that she will continue to improve," she said to her Facebook followers.