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Meet me by the Mango Tree

A tribute to the sweetest creature I ever knew

By Rachel M.JPublished 2 years ago Updated 2 years ago 6 min read

Entered into Vocal's Life Unleashed Challenge: Share a story about a memory that you and your dog have made together.

"That is the single cutest dog I have ever seen in my entire life"

- Ancient Proverb

Meet me by the Mango Tree

My dog - Jazz - used to smell like lavender shampoo and had a coat the colour of butterscotch candy. She could have been a porcelain doll; I'd never seen a creature so delicate and lovely.

I know that everyone likes to say that their dog is the 'cutest’ – and, well... I agree, your dog IS the cutest. I’ve been known to spot a random dog on a street corner and loudly proclaim - without a hint of irony - "that dog is the single cutest dog I ever have seen in my entire life,” only to say the exact same thing the very next day about a completely different dog.

All things considered though, Jazz. Was. Cute.

The first few months with Jazz were odd. Walking her to the park was less so a matter of getting some exercise, and more like walking down a pageant runway. People would stop me on the street, waggling their dirty money, and ask me if she were for sale. Why no thank you 'Mam - I will not be accepting your 50-dollar note in exchange for watching you run off with my dog into the sunset.

It was flattering at first to think that I might be the proud companion of the sweetest dog in the entire universe, but I must admit that I was relieved when the solicitations finally stopped. They stopped when Jazz grew into an adult. You see, she was finally considered 'regular' cute, as opposed to 'take my money' cute, which was more than fine with me.

Walks with her were no longer a pageant show, they were for us.

As a budding athlete at the time - who had the unfortunate reality of growing into her full height at a staggering 5'2 - I used to take Jazz to train with me. My training was solitary; the principal of the primary school I used to attend allowed me to use the sports grounds for my running practice, and so birthed mine and Jazz's daily routine; we would run down the gravel road that led to the school, once there, we'd take a quick water break, she'd watch me train, and then we'd jog home.

Banal, perhaps, but that's usually where the most beautiful memories lie; Wedged somewhere in between the steps of your everyday routine and camouflaged as just another moment in time, waiting to embed themselves as flashbulb memories that solidify in your psyche for a lifetime.

Jazz and I had many of those moments.

The Memories: Dolphins, Water-Fountains, and Mango Trees

Along our run down to the sports grounds, there was a growth of underbrush that used to extend to my knees during the rainy season.

It was Jazz's favourite time of year; she would veer us off-course and into the grass that towered over her tiny body. She'd disappear, completely engulfed by that maze, and gallop through it as if she were a gazelle. Being perhaps the size of a gazelle's hoof meant that only her head could be seen in short rapturous busts as she leaped as high as she could.

It was like watching a dolphin swim alongside a crowd of jeering cruise-goers.

Her sweet disposition and delicate frame were points of admiration for many onlookers. Even I still sing a gentle sigh of admiration at the thought of her plights.

When we reached the sports ground after our run we would both be panting from exhaustion, so I'd walk her to the school drinking fountains, nestled between my old 3rd-grade classroom and the bike racks, and we'd drink. Although the fountain was designed for small children, she could barely reach it when standing on her back legs. I'd lift her, and from the comfort of one hand, she'd drink long and deep as I held the tap with the other.

On sleepy afternoons, we would stay until sunset.

I'd walk her through the grounds of my old school and let her explore at her own content. I knew that one call of her name would have her hurtling back towards me, so it never worried me to see her rummaging under a building or sprinting across the lawns. I lead her to the very back of the school one afternoon, to where a massive mango tree overlooked the sheds. I scoured the ground for ripe fruit and procured one for tasting. As Jazz ran back to me, I extended the fruit as an offering... and she gobbled it up.

I peeled another for myself, and we watched the sunset while eating our mangoes.

2022 marks ten years since I've been away from that home, and twelve years since Jazz's untimely passing. There's a grave in the yard of that old house where she rests alongside the other beloved pets who I lost before their time. You can see them in the picture at the top of this article; Boof (the cat) and Fuzz, Jazz's predecessor.

I've considered that this may be one of the reasons why I find it so hard to return to my hometown. When returning to the place where we grew up we have to battle with the memories of friendships lost, identity changes, and most painful of all, the loss of our pets.

I'd like to return home someday and find a way to carry myself over those hurdles. I'd like to run into an old friend and see where the flash of recognition takes us; I'd like the drive past that old house that homed a good portion of my teenage angst, and I'd like to see those school grounds again.

I don't think I'd be able to look away from that mango tree.

I'd be wondering - hoping - that hiding somewhere behind those buildings, playing in the shade of the foliage was Jazz, diving deep into the fallen leaves with Fuzz by her side, all while Boof watched on in aloof irritation. I'd take a seat by them and pick a fruit from the tree, peeling back its skin with my bare hands so that they could enjoy the nectar in the summer heat.

I wish that she could be more than a flashbulb memory, and that I could wash that butterscotch coat in lavender shampoo one last time.

So, to Jazz - despite what I might say in my moments of weakness about those random dogs on street corners... I want you to know that you're still irrefutably the single cutest dog I have ever seen in my entire life,

and I miss you dearly, my little Butterscotch.


About the Creator

Rachel M.J

Magical realist

I like to write about things behaving how they shouldn't ~

Instagram: Rachel M.J

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