Interview: Kay Fedewa on DomesticFox.com
Isiah Jacobs: Good evening, ma'am, thank you so much for coming on to the show, it's a pleasure to have you here!
Kay Fedewa: Oh anytime, it's an honor.
Isiah Jacobs: So, you are currently in charge of a program called The Domestic Fox. Could you please briefly explain what this program does?
Kay Fedewa: In short, we work with the Russian Institute of Cytology and Genetics, and with people interested in buying foxes from them. We sort out all the import and export documentation, licenses, transport costs, vaccinations, etc. and deliver foxes from the institute to their new owners.
Isiah Jacobs: As I understand it, this institute has been working on domesticating foxes for the past roughly sixty years or so. You do know that it wasn't called Russia back then, right?
Kay Fedewa: Yes and actually after the Soviet Union broke up, the government funding for this experiment disappeared along with it. They've been struggling to keep this going since then.
Isiah Jacobs: Well thank God the current government doesn't support communist foxes! Why would the CCCP want to domesticate foxes?
Kay Fedewa: It really started with one guy doing it in secret, back before that sort of thing would be allowed to do openly. He was employed by the government to run the fur farm. But he was smart and curious and decided to see if he could breed the fixes for tameness. I don't recall why eventually the government took interest. Especially after he was caught and reprimanded for it
Isiah Jacobs: So he was probably trying to make them capitalist foxes! I like this guy! So, why make foxes as pets? Why not just paint a dog orange and call it a fox? That's good enough for me.
Kay Fedewa: It's good enough for most people. If I had a dollar for every time someone told me to stop bothering with this fox business and just get a dog or a cat, I could probably afford another fox. But, the intention with the experiment wasn't to make pets.
Isiah Jacobs: What was it?
Kay Fedewa: It was to answer questions about domestication. Why certain species can be domesticated. How it happens. What genetic changes come with it. The result though is animals that really want to be with people. So the current research team was very excited to start finding homes for them. Because there is a large number of the foxes being produced each year, more than are needed to remain within the experiment.
Isiah Jacobs: So they had these foxes bred by communist scientists, and they're just releasing them all over the world? That sounds kind of suspicious.
Kay Fedewa: Well that's why it's so damned hard to get them into the u.s. :)
Isiah Jacobs: They could be anchor foxes for all we know! Coming in and stealing our American fox jobs!
Kay Fedewa: There are a lot of American foxes being kept as pets currently. But they're still wild animals, just raised by people to behave tamely.
Isiah Jacobs: But you just had to outsource our hard working American foxes and go Russian, didn't you?
Kay Fedewa: I did and I learned a lesson, I lost a bunch of money :) We have a few people who are interested buyers at this point. But I think the price tag is really discouraging to most people. Especially when you can get a hand raised American fox for a few hundred dollars.
Isiah Jacobs: Which we'll be getting to in a few minutes. So how did you originally come across this program? Did you search up "communist foxes" and that was the first thing that came up.
Kay Fedewa: Well, that's definitely not the first thing that will come up if you search for those terms, especially with safe search off. I came across the program about seven or so years ago I think, as a small article in a scientific publication. With a black and white photo of some of the foxes. And I thought that was about the coolest thing I've ever heard of, and kept it in my mind. And then in the last couple years, I'd just try googling domestic foxes and see what turned up. And then the catalyst was last March, when National Geographic featured an article about them on their cover.
Isiah Jacobs: Oh! And what did the article have to say?
Kay Fedewa: Explains the experiment, and some of its findings. It's a nice article, you should check it out. Is called Taming the Wild, National Geographic March 2011. Anyway I was sitting on the couch with it, and I said, I'm gonna get one of these foxes. And didn't entirely even believe myself that I'd do it. But I guess I did :)
Isiah Jacobs: This is what I like! No thinking involved! Thinking gets in the way too often! So, what type of things did you find in your Google searches?
Kay Fedewa: I found an article by Lyudmila Trut, the chief researcher. Also very interesting read. And I found Sib Fox.
Isiah Jacobs: Ah yes! I believe Dr. Trut has been around since the beginning, is that correct?
Kay Fedewa: I don't think quite the very beginning She was Belyaev's assistant I think. But he was working on this before she came on.
Isiah Jacobs: Close enough. And what is Sib Fox?
Kay Fedewa: Sib Fox was an American who had approached the institute offering to export the foxes to the u.s. for them. He registered the business SibFox LLC in Nevada. He said that for 7k he'd be able to import a fox for me. That ended up being a lie.
Isiah Jacobs: I knew that name sounded familiar! Yeah, I remember a whole drama storm about that! But anyways!
Kay Fedewa: After he failed to successfully import any foxes, the Institute stopped working with him and he took his site down.
Isiah Jacobs: What made you want to buy a fox? What's so interesting about them? Aside from them being cute.
Kay Fedewa: I've loved foxes ever since I can remember. I have drawings I did of foxes from when I was about five. They're one of the most beautiful creatures, to be certain, but it's their intelligence and spirit that makes them so special.
Isiah Jacobs: I think you can thank the communists for that. They are way too smart for their own good! So, you convince yourself to buy a fox. What happened next?
Kay Fedewa: So I bought one through Sib Fox, waited 6 months, and didn't get a fox Lol.
Isiah Jacobs: $7000 down the drain?
Kay Fedewa: Nah he refunded me.
Isiah Jacobs: Well that's some good news at least! So what happened after Sib then?
Kay Fedewa: I contacted the institute and told them I was one of the people that Sib Fox screwed. And they were very embarrassed and quite willing to go out of their way to help me get a fox from them. But it's still a boatload of complications so I went online and looked for a USDA licensed importer to help me. And I found Mitch Kalmanson. Called him up, told him the story. And then a few months later he had everything arranged to get Anya from the institute for me.
Isiah Jacobs: How much did the whole process cost?
Kay Fedewa: A lot. I'm not comfortable disclosing my insanity :)
Isiah Jacobs: Was it at least less than $10,000?
Kay Fedewa: Maaaaaybbbeees.
Isiah Jacobs: Well, I know these furries are gonna be interested in buying these foxes, and I'm sure they're curious how much it will cost. This is why I ask.
Kay Fedewa: Well it will cost about 8k for buyers now. Since we are importing in a large group now. It's much cheaper to do it that way. It spreads out the costs.
Isiah Jacobs: So it's like buying it a bulk discount! It's like Costco!
Kay Fedewa: Exactly. A communist vulpine Costco.
Isiah Jacobs: Thank you! So what does the money cover? Food transportation? Insurance?
Kay Fedewa: Transportation for the fox, custom build transport cage for fox (airline doesn't accept any plastic to be used), import and export documentation preparation and fees, licenses, transportation for one of us to personally escort foxes. Vaccinations, sterilization, microchip.
Isiah Jacobs: So they ARE tracking them!
Kay Fedewa: And the cost of the fox itself that the institute charges us. Which isn't cheap.
Isiah Jacobs: So why a microchip? What purpose does that serve?
Kay Fedewa: Identification. It's an alternative to a tattoo.
Isiah Jacobs: Ok, that one slides.
Kay Fedewa: The microchip isn't the GPS kind unfortunately.
Isiah Jacobs: So, by sterilization, do you mean making sure they're sanitary? That they're all clean? Or is that meant to prevent them from getting their fox business on?
Kay Fedewa: None of the foxes can leave the facility until they’ve been neutered. They don't want anyone else breeding them.
Isiah Jacobs: Alright, that does make sense! So, did you personally choose Anya? Or is she the one you ended up with?
Kay Fedewa: I asked them if they had any red foxes at were already vaccinated and Anya was the only one they had. And they sent me a photo of her and I said yes, that one! And I had her photo on my desktop for months. I'm glad I ended up with her, she's a lot like me.
Isiah Jacobs: Why a red fox? Aren't there silver and white foxes?
Kay Fedewa: Yep they come in all colors. I just love the classic orange, white and black.
Isiah Jacobs: So from looking at the photos, what was it about Anya that drew you to her?
Kay Fedewa: Well they only gave me one photo. And she was in the grass and she was smiling. She looked happy and friendly. I’m sure lots of other foxes would have looked that way too. But she was the only one they sent a photo of. There was no reason not to love her.
Isiah Jacobs: That sounds sickeningly adorable. How is she like you?
Kay Fedewa: She's moody, has a short attention span, has spurts of energy but gets tired out quick and gets cranky, naps a lot. Is stubborn. Likes to cuddle :B Is very curious and wants to know all about everything. I think curiosity is one of my favorite fox qualities. They’re really cool animals.
Isiah Jacobs: Curiosity seems to be a universal quality! Do you know why the Institute named her Anya?
Kay Fedewa: They take the first letters from the names of the parents. The first syllables actually I think. And put them together. Something like that anyway. So actually they have quite many weird and bad sounding names among the foxes.
Isiah Jacobs: Wow! Who knew Russian scientists could be so unoriginal! What was it like meeting her for the first time?
Kay Fedewa: Well she was a lot tinier than I expected. And I was just really gushing with happiness.
Isiah Jacobs: So, what kind of good and bad examples of fox names are there?
Kay Fedewa: Anya is good because it comes out as an actual name. I don't think I will name the others because I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings if they get a fox with that name :)
Isiah Jacobs: Fair enough! So, one thing that really drew to your whole website were the videos you posted of Anya on YouTube. You haven't uploaded in a while. Can we expect more videos in the future?
Kay Fedewa: I haven't posted more in a while because I don't have her living with me yet, she's living with Mitch in Florida while I get my Michigan state permit.
Isiah Jacobs: Any idea how much longer that will take?
Kay Fedewa: Next Thursday I'll have the permit.
Isiah Jacobs: So more videos soon! Excellent!
Kay Fedewa: Mitch won't be free to drop Anya off in Michigan until second week in May probably. So still more waiting.
Isiah Jacobs: Still not too far away!
Kay Fedewa: I'll be spamming the net with videos when I get her tho don't worry :)
Isiah Jacobs: One thing I find so very fascinating about Anya is that my show actually shares a birthday with her! March 27th, 2011. That's one hell of a coincidence!
Kay Fedewa: Happy belated birthday.
Isiah Jacobs: And a happy birthday to Anya as well! Do you know if she got anything special?
Kay Fedewa: A few great things seem to have come into the world on that day :) Filet mignon.
Isiah Jacobs: That's one spoiled fox!
Kay Fedewa: Yea Mitch has been really spoiling her. And she got a pink ribbon.
Isiah Jacobs: So, in honor of this shared birthday, would it be alright if Anya were to be the official unofficial mascot for the show?
Kay Fedewa: That's fine! I'm sure she will be honored. She is very photogenic. We will take some photos for you.
Isiah Jacobs: Yes! Thank you so much, ma'am! I feel honored myself! Alright, I just have one last question for you.
Kay Fedewa: Bring it on.
Isiah Jacobs: When are you going to work on The Blackblood Alliance again?! I loved reading that web comic!
Kay Fedewa: I'm not sure, I've written a lot of new material for a restart. But I've been doing other projects. When I'm in the mood I guess :)
Isiah Jacobs: Well get in the mood more often! It needs to return! Are these projects other story ideas of yours?
Kay Fedewa: Lots of projects. I do a lot of random things. Game projects. Breeding projects. Websites.
Isiah Jacobs: Well, I'm looking forward to seeing these projects if they are ever made public! Ma'am, thank you so much for your time! I look forward to having you back on the show in the future!
Kay Fedewa: Thanks for the interest Isiah.