Copper, you're my very best friend
And you're mine too Tod.
And we'll always be friends forever, right?
Copper smiled as the memory came flashing back across his mind. It was winter time on Amos Slade's farm and since Amos was laid up with a broken leg (having accidentally set off yet another of his own traps), Copper was forced to spend the winter outside, snuffing around in the snow, practicing his hunting techniques. There wasn't much else to do and when Copper wasn't snuffing around, he was laying in his barrel, daydreaming.
He would look out across the countryside, eyes staring straight ahead, blinking but unseeing. He always seemed to be somewhere, though where, Chief could never tell.
"Copper. Hey, Copper! COPPER!" Chief barked loudly into Copper's floppy brown ear, effectively breaking his concentration.
"Huh? Oh sorry Chief. Guess I was daydreaming."
"Dag nabbit Copper, why do you always do that? I can never get you to do anything these days."
Copper chuckled to himself as he looked at the crusty old hunting dog. Though Chief had officially lost his rank as head hunting dog, he was still older than Copper and for this, Copper respected him. "What do you want me to do Chief? It's wintertime; every creature around here is hibernating. It's not like I can go hunt rabbits or something." He stood up in his barrel, stretched, then plopped back down again.
"Well, you could do more than sit there staring out at the world. Practice hunting or something."
"I already did that today."
"Well…confound it! I don't know! Just…do something, okay?" With that, Chief stalked off towards his own barrel, burrowing himself deep into the straw that covered the cold ground.
Meanwhile, a way in the woods…
"Tod? Tod, wake up." Vixey tapped Tod lightly on the shoulder, trying to wake him up. He rolled over lazily.
"Tod, it's time."
Tod stared at Vixey, trying to clear the sleep from his head. Time? Time for what? Winter wasn't over yet. He looked at Vixey quizzically.
"It's time Tod. They're coming. You're going to be a daddy." Vixey leaned over and licked Tod on the ear affectionately.
"Oh okay." He rolled back over, and was almost asleep when the thought struck him immediately. He jumped to attention.
"It's time! Oh my gosh! I'm going to be a father! Vixey…Vixey, stay right there, I'll be right back." With that, he charged out of the den, running circles through the snow. "I'm going to be a daddy! I'm going to be a daddy!"
"What's all the racket honey? You woke me up from a sound sleep." Big Mama came walking out on a tree branch, feathers ruffled.
"Oh, sorry Big Mama. I'm just so excited."
"Excited about what?"
"I'm going to be a Dad!"
Big Mama smiled. "Oh Tod, I cannot believe how grown up you are. I remember when you were little. Now, here you are; all grown up and having babies of your own. You take good care of those babies, you hear."
"Oh, I will Big Mama, I will."
"Good. Now, honey, as much as I would love to talk to you, I'm afraid I'm going to have to go back to sleep. Try to keep it down, okay?"
His energy and excitement finally subsiding, Tod made his way back to the den. He walked in and looked at Vixey; the light from outside seemed to give her fur a beautiful, warm glow. He was the luckiest fox in the world. She smiled at him. "What are you looking at?"
"Nothing. I'm just thinking about how lucky I am to have you in my life." He walked over and licked her on the ear. She giggled softly. "Now, when will the little ones be here?"
"Anytime now. They should be here soon. We just have to wait."
A few hours later, little cries could be heard throughout the den. Three beautiful little foxes, in various shades of red, were lying next to Vixey. With their eyes closed, they turned their heads back and forth, trying to find milk. Vixey touched them with her nose, gently encouraging them to suckle. When they were all lined up eating, Tod and Vixey watched them, smiling.
"Aren't they beautiful?" asked Vixey.
"They sure are. What should we name them?"
"Well, there are two boys and one girl. I like the name Chloe for the girl."
"That's a good name."
"Okay. Chloe. Now, what about the rest of them?"
Tod looked over at the suckling cubs, thinking. One of the cubs had different shades of red all over his coat, looking as if someone had sprinkled Cinnamon on him. Tod remembered widow Tweed using Cinnamon in her baking; it always made the house smell nice. He scrunched up his eyes and cocked his head. "How about Cinnamon?" He finally said.
"Yeah. It's a spice that always made widow Tweeds house smell good."
Vixey smiled. Even after all this time, Tod could still remember living with the widow. "Alright, Cinnamon it is. For which cub?"
"That one over there, on the far end. See the different colors of red in his coat?"
"Okay then. Cinnamon. Now, what about this one?" Vixey gestured towards a smaller cub in the middle. Instead of being red like the others, he was a chocolate brown color, with a white tipped tail and white on the insides of his ears.
"Hmmm." Todd sat there thinking. The cub had soft brown eyes that almost matched his fur. For some reason, the color of his coat reminded him of the brown of Copper's floppy ears. It couldn't hurt, could it? Todd spoke cautiously. "What if we name him…
"Copper? After your friend Copper? The hound dog?"
"Yeah. Why not?"
"Well…okay. If that's what you really want to call him."
"Alright, Copper it is."