A Dog Tale: The True Story Behind the Fox and the Hound

The real story behind the Fox and the HoundDisney movies have a way at tugging at our heartstrings, if not ripping them out completely. Even from the beginning, these movies often have a poignant message, or a subtle undertone that doesn’t leave a dry eye in the house, and the 1981 movie the Fox and the Hound certainly lives up to those heartfelt expectations. While it’s easy to take these movies in passing, understanding the history behind them makes them all the more meaningful.

So let’s take a moment and sniff out the story behind the Fox and the Hound.

An Orphan Fox Finds a Home

As with all heartwarming tales, our hero must come have a tragic past. In this case, the fox was orphaned and taken in by the Widow Tweed who named him Tod. At this time, the Widow Tweed’s neighbor, the hunter Amos Slade has just brought home a new hound puppy named Cooper. The two became fast friends as they romped and played throughout the forest and promised that they would be friends for ever.

The Passing of Time and the Conflict of Friendship

While we know it will happen from the start, we just don’t want to believe it, but the bond of friendship between Tod the Fox and Cooper the Hound will be put to the test. Cooper grows up to be a very able hunting dog and is instructed and pressed by Slade’s other hunting dog, Chief. One night, after Cooper returns home, Tod sneaks over to see his friend only to waken Chief who then alerts Slade. After Tod leads them all on a merry chase, where he’s caught by Cooper. Cooper, out of love for his old friend lets him go, but Chief tracks him down to the railroad tracks. Chief is then struck by a train and injured and Tod manages to escape.

Chief and Cooper blame Tod and vow to hunt him down. The Widow Tweed takes Tod to a game preserve where he begins to learn how to live as a wild fox. Eventually Slade and his hunting dogs make their way to the preserve to finish tracking Tod down. Despite trying to kill him, Tod scares off a bear that attacks Slade and his dogs, and it is only then that they call off the hunt.

The Truth Behind the Story

The real story of the fox and the hound was based off a novel written by Daniel P. Mannix in 1967, although it lacked the fantastic Disney twist of the talking animals and the lifelong friendship, and focused more on Tod’s life in the woods as a wild fox. While it made for a wonderful family movie, the important take away in the lesson of nature vs. nurture. There are many dogs that have high prey drives, mostly due to their instincts to hunt smaller animals. Because of this, it’s very important that you socialize your dogs, especially if you’re bringing one into a house that already has animals or small children.

By socializing your new pup, you can help to retrain some instinctive traits allowing your dog to get along better with everyone in your family, including the fox, or in the case of most families, the cat. Part of both the joy and the challenge of owning a new dog is the training, however, if done correctly, you’d be surprised at the kind of dog your pup can be.


+Neil Kilgore is the Jack (Russell) of all trades at Greenfield Puppies in Lancaster Pa. He regularly blogs about dogs, breeders and puppies on the Greenfield Puppies website.