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A novel written by Daniel P. Mannix and published in 1967. It had a Disneymovie very loosely based on it, which is much better known than the book.The plot stars a human-raised red fox named Tod. After Tod causes the death of a hunter's prize hound, Chief, the hunter pursues Tod in a fit of vengeance, aided by his ageing half-bloodhound Copper. Of ten chapters, Copper gets four as the viewpoint character and Tod six. The novel takes great pains to show both characters' distinctly non-human thought processes - in particular, scent rules their world far more than sight, especially in Copper's case.
This novel provides examples of the following tropes:
The Berserkers: The catch dogs, who in their frenzy will more often go after the hounds than whatever quarry the Master is after. Tod's first mate is also driven temporarily insane by her pregnancy.
Bizarre Alien Senses: From the reader's perspective, Tod and Copper's amazing senses of smell can come across as this. Copper's eyesight is so bad that he seems to consider clear colour vision to be a Bizarre Human Sense.
Blood Lust: The two viewpoint characters are carnivores. Do the math. While Copper is well-trained enough to not go after animals he isn't sicced on, that doesn't mean he isn't really tempted sometimes. Tod hunts for a living, and during a bad drought actually gets most of his water from the blood of his prey.
Chekhov's Skill: Essentially how Tod and his kind's entire mindset works. His repertoire of hunting skills and evasive maneuvers are made up of various tricks that worked once and are repeated verbatim - he doesn't question why something works, he just knows that it does.
Cunning Like a Fox: Tod engages in a back and forth battle of wits with the hunter, who constantly uses new traps and new hunting methods to try and catch Tod.
After noticing Chief tailing him, Tod waits in front of a railroad track for a train to arrive, and dashes across at the last minute. Chief follows... and you can guess the rest.
Downer Ending: Tod himself is finally killed, and with most of his property gone and no more purpose in life, the hunter retires to a nursing home that does not allow dogs, so he's forced to shoot Copper.
Ghibli Hills: Subverted. The forest and the Master's land all get eaten up by urbanization.
Green-Eyed Monster: Copper, an aging bloodhound-mix who'd fallen out of his master's favour, absolutely hates Chief, a younger dog who is challenging his role as head dog. He's overjoyed when Chief is killed prematurely. As far as the foxes go, Tod's first mate is outright murderous when it comes to territorial boundaries and other vixens (Truth in Television).
Groin Attack: What Chief uses to distract a bear about to kill his master. Foxes will go for the groin if it's available in both battle and hunting.
Humans Are Cthulhu: Copper knows that "human beings had strange powers that no dog could understand", such as the ability to miraculously scent trails where he cannot (or, as it may be, visually follow footprints and other sign). The formal foxhunters are even more bizarre and inscrutable. Tod is probably the character least awed by humans, and even then they still do things he finds inexplicable from time to time.
Infant Immortality: Averted. A human child ends up eating the poison the hunter leaves out for foxes and dies, and almost none of Tod's pups that he sticks around to raise make it to adulthood. One lone pup possibly survived - at the very least, it drops out of the narrative without explicitly dying.
Insistent Terminology: Mannix acknowledges that some people might find his habit of calling baby foxes pups instead of cubs a little odd, but defends himself by saying "Foxes are actually little wild dogs and so would have pups". He alternates between the two terms, but generally prefers "pup".
Jerkass: Both title characters. There's Tod, who hangs around by the hunter's dogs and taunts them while they're chained. When Chief finally gets loose and chases Tod, he kills the dog by leading it into a trap via a train. And Copper, whose jealously toward Chief makes him so hateful of the dog that he's happy when Chief is killed by the fox.
Kick The Fox: The hunter kills at least two of Tod's mates and at least two litters of Tod's kits.
Kill Steal: One reason Copper hates Chief is the latter's habit of picking up scent trails by luck and leading the hunting pack off along it, rather than the methodical way Copper works out the trails. He also refuses to kill steal himself when the young hound Red opens his first line - he just confirms the find and elevates the newbie to a full member of the tracking pack.
Poor Communication Kills: Foxes of course do not have language, so fox parents cannot simply tell their offspring that winter is coming and that it would be a good idea to learn hunting skills in summer. Tod cannot communicate to his family that the hunter is using a rabbit-scream call as bait.
Predators Are Mean: They certainly take extreme pleasure in killing things. Skirts the edge of the trope since they're still only trying to make a living.
His original mate picks a birthing den that's a single tunnel leading to a single burrow. Tod, having spent his short time as a wild pup in a generations-old fox den with multiple entrances and burrows, thinks it's a death trap. He's right.
During the rabies epidemic, strychnine baits are left out for population control. Tod never eats one directly, but he gets a dose via some carrion that has passed through no less than six previous victims. The experience so traumatises Tod that he lives on fruit and roots for a few days, and never eats meat from anything he didn't kill himself ever again.
Pyrrhic Victory: At the end of the story, the hunter has managed to kill Tod. However, he has to retire in a nursing home and shoot Copper to avoid abandoning the old dog.
Roman à Clef: The final chapter is based on a real hunt in which a part bloodhound named Boston chased a fox named Baldy for a day and half, covering 150 miles. Both animals dropped dead at the end of the hunt.
Science Marches On: Canines like dogs and foxes are not, as it turns out, completely colourblind, only red-green colourblind as compared to the average human.
Shown Their Work: Mannix spent over a year studying foxes, which included watching them in the wild, interviewing hunters and even keeping a pair of red foxes in his home. He was also extremely well-versed in how scent tracking works. It shows.