Box Village Walk

Jazz in the Box

Caitlin O’Sullivan

I’ve been a dog lover my whole life. Cats are great, the little satanic creatures they are but dogs, dogs are infinitely lovable. My boyfriend’s dog is a devilish, mischievous Great Dane. She’s called Jazz, and she’s already as high as my waist at 6 months. I love her though. She’s like a baby cow, spotted black and white, and eating constantly. The food doesn’t have to be actual food; shoes, sofas, giant rubber ducks, Xbox controller cables, decking… turn around for even a second and she’s taken everything off your plate with one skilful swipe of her tongue.

My boyfriend and I took her for a walk near Box, a tiny village on the border of Bath and Wiltshire. She didn’t want to leave my side, stuck to my legs rather than bounding through the golden fields on either side of the rough path. She was a cautious pup, taking interest in bits of bush, needing our permission to walk ahead to explore smells and weird plants. “What’s that, Jazz?” I asked the puppy, her head tilted to one side, her floppy ears perked, tail between legs. Cows. She didn’t know what to think, but tried to size them up from between our legs and the electric fence.

This was a common walking route for dogs, with beautiful views of the village and countryside. For Jazz and I though, it was a new experience. In the relentless sun I posed the lighter for a picture. It was the best lighter in the world, electric and metallic green, it was a buy on the way to Box in a corner shop. We heard some sheep dogs much further along the path. When spotted later, Jazz stood to attention and kept close, desperate to see them, but anxious about being away from our protection. And then we introduced her to the pigs.

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Totally organic, free range fuzzy, friendly, muddy, adorable brown pigs, and an utter anomaly to Jazz. When I went up to the fence to say hello, she wiggled her head between my legs to protect herself from these strange beasts, but when one of them waddled over, and stuck her nose through the fence, she quickly learnt that they were sociable. Jazz nudged around me, and gently touched noses with her new friend.

In a great mood after meeting someone new, Jazz bounded ahead, jumping around the ferns and trying to eat the prolific flies. It was about 35 degrees in the sun, so the shade of the forest was a relief, despite still being almost unbearable. There was a pink tinge on her back above the shoulders, and she wasn’t the only one. My makeup had quickly melted off my face, and these country boys just don’t stock sun cream. I knelt down to give Jazz some water out of my bottle, but she wouldn’t take it.

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“Us pale girls have to hydrate when we can, sister,” I told her, but she was too busy listening to the distant sound of the sheepdogs. On our route back to the car, the dogs spotted us. They galloped over to say hello to Jazz. She was the picture of a submissive pup, tail low between her legs, head bowed, sniffing and still. Once the two older dogs welcomed her though, she was the bouncy pup we knew her to be, leaping through the yellow flowered fields trying to get these much better behaved dogs to chase her.

After they left for their owner, I raced Jazz up to the car, trying to wear her out so she’d be calm and not pester everyone at the dinner table back home. She was shattered, as was I, so it was a pretty pathetic race. She got in the boot this time, thank God, and we melted in our seats. Both burnt, both tuckered out.

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Edited by: Joel Emmons

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