Golfers remember friendly fox who befriended them

Golfers remember friendly fox who befriended them

1 January 2019

A NOT-SO-CUNNING little fox who became the adopted mascot of a Newcastle golf club has died.

Donny, who liked to hang out with the golfers at the Royal County Down Golf Club, was a familiar site around the course and neighbouring Slieve Donard Hotel. 

Club member Aileen Martin, who is a director of Hastings Hotels, owners of the Slieve Donard, formed a bond with the little “sweet toothed vixen” who was found in a state of distress on Christmas Eve before being taken to the vet where she died later.

Leading the tributes, she said: “It was always a highlight to see Donny on the course and she’s someone I’m definitely going to miss. She always kept a respectful distance unless you had some Nutella.”

Describing the vixen as very friendly, Aileen continued: “One of the ladies I play with always kept food in her bag. She would lift out a banana and tried to feed Donny but she only turned her nose up at that. 

“I happened to have a Nutella wafer bar so I gave it to her and she ate it right out of my hand.”

Donny was discovered nursing a badly infected wound. Animal rescuer Debbie Nelson from Debbie Dolittle Wildlife was called in and quickly realised the fox had a raging infection.

Debbie said: “I managed to get her to the vet before it closed. They thought she had a fighting chance, so I took her home.”

Despite receiving a course of antibiotics, Donny’s breathing and heart rate began to speed up and she suffered a seizure. Donny went downhill very quickly and later died in Debbie’s arms. 

“We don’t know how long she was lying there but she wasn’t strong enough to fight,” Debbie remarked.

Donny, who made a connection with players when she began stealing golf balls a few years back, enjoyed regular snacks from passing caddies. 

Another avid golfer, who encountered the “beautiful” fox for the last time just a few weeks ago, said Donny became a mascot for the club.

“She ran off with my ball a few times, but once she realised it wasn’t food she ped it — it was quite amusing and in my case always advantageous,” he said.

The golf enthusiast, who plays every Sunday, often witnessed players feeding Donny sausages which she enjoyed.

“There was a vet came to check up on her regularly and she always seemed to be in good health — she looked pretty good the last time I saw her.”

Joyce McCammon, who said Donny’s antics never did her round of golf any harm, learned of the news after noticing the animal wasn’t around. “It was very sad to hear about it,” she said.

Mrs McCammon’s husband Bert recalled how the daring fox once tried to run off with his club after picking it up by the handle. “She didn’t get very far,” he added.

The couple agreed they would miss Donny’s antics but will always remain thankful for having the opportunity to establish a bond with local wildlife.