Janet Arnett is the former campus manager of adult education at Ontario’s Georgian College. She is the author of Antiques and Collectibles: Starting Small, The Grange at Knock, and 673 Ways to Save Money.
Smeeton and spouse operate a private game park in Alberta where they attempt to shelter and breed endangered native Canadian animals.
Although the title suggests a book about foxes, the rare swift fox shares the text with bison, moose, and trumpeter swans. The tree mammals receive approximately equal attention, with the trumpeters taking something of a back seat in terms of both space and information.
The work is more an autobiography than a book on wildlife. The author’s purpose in writing it seems to have been to show what an interesting life he has rather than to impart any special knowledge about the animals in his care. Not that this is a bad objective; the book is simply billed as something it is not.
There are a few interesting passages describing the relationships of semi-tame bison and moose to their keepers and, with work, the reader can pick up a few scraps of information about the behaviour of caged swift foxes. There’s a small section of black-and-white photos of swift foxes, moose, and bison. Those of the foxes are good, but most of the moose and bison shots are poorly exposed. The swans missed the photo section entirely.
Overall, the author’s emphasis on the physical work of the game farm (building and moving shelters, mending fences, etc.) gives the impression that his interest in, and knowledge of, the animals is superficial.
Throughout the work, Smeeton parades a condescending attitude toward the people who worked for him and anyone who attempted serious study of the endangered species at the game park. This is the “sense of humour” promised by the jacket blurb.
The book is definitely lightweight — a surface treatment that misses the chance to inform and does a rather weak job of entertaining.