Walk on the Wild Side

Mackenzy Phillips

© Copyright 2018 by Mackenzy Phillips

Photo of author and her dog.

I had left England behind and moved to the beautiful region of the Dordogne in Southwest France in October 2015. After days of unpacking clothes and kitchenware and artwork,  I decided as it was a beautiful October sunny afternoon I would take myself and my soulmate; Doodles, out for a walk to enjoy our new surroundings. It seemed a good idea to immediately start familiarizing myself to the local villages with a long term view to finding the perfect renovation project to buy as our home.

So we jumped in the car and headed down the route-national a few kilometres, turning off towards a hamlet called St Julien. I had passed it during the week and it struck me at the time that it might just present the perfect location for a house or land purchase as it was isolated with no street lights but just off the main road. I parked the car at the top of the hill behind a derelict house and barn and off we trotted down the perimeter of the ancient vineyards. Doodles ran up and down the rows and rows of heavily laden vines taking in all the “French” scents that were new to him. I stopped a number of times soaking up the sun and the views along the way while confirming to myself the move had absolutely been the right decision. No more traffic jams, no more gray skies. Finally, I had space and quiet and calm. Life suddenly looked brighter again.

As we approached the hamlet I could see a field of beautiful horses as well a lone donkey. Doodles has been chased by a donkey through a field on a previous walk in Bledlow in Buckinghamshire and was still traumatised by the event. There was no way he was going to take the risk of trundling on past on his own…. so I retrieved him and leashed him. He seemed happy and much relieved with the arrangement.

As we walked past a farmhouse, there was an almighty kafuffle going on inside a large stone barn. Out ran a cockerel being chased and pecked by a tiny close haired dog. (it looked like a miniature whippet) The dog continued chasing the cockerel...pecking at it and the cockerel pecking back. I thought rather naïvely perhaps, that out in the country this may be normal as I had heard that a chicken won’t take too much from a dog. How wrong could I have been! The dog chased and bit this cockerel till it took its last breath right in front of me…then abandoned it and set about everything else inside the barn. All I could hear were screaming chickens and the flapping of feathered wings as they fought to survive the massacre. One or two came running out in hope of escape but they too dropped and gasped for air. And then the barn fell silent! All of this took less than a few minutes. The barnyard was completely enclosed with barbed wire fencing and no gates, the only entrance was not visible to the roadside where I was standing, now stupefied.

I ran around to the front of the house to discover it was recently burned down, charred roof beams everywhere. The entire contents of the house strewn amongst rubble and cinders, if not burnt, blackened from smoke and water damage. It was like a stage set. I started to wonder if the animals had been abandoned, with the poor dog left to fend for itself. If so perhaps I needed to rescue him, not curse him.  But there was no sign of him now. I walked to the neighbour’s house up the road to ask if they knew who the owner was and how could I contact them. I was told the owner was at work but the dog belonged to someone else in the village, the owner of the burned house apparently was living upstairs in a single room. The neighbor promised me that he would call him and tell him about his dead chickens immediately.

I thanked him and decided to head back to the car. No sooner had Doodles and I turned the corner when all the horses in the field down in the valley which minutes ago looked so tranquil were now hysterical, jumping and carrying on in a frenzy. I looked around to find out what could be causing the commotion, only to see a massive wild boar running out of the woods and across the field, heading straight for them. I’d never seen a wild boar before. He was massive and looked like he was on a mission. He ran straight through the horses and as he headed for the road, a convoy of hunters in trucks appeared from nowhere. They were in hot pursuit of this massive black beast. I could see in my head the line of both the boar and trucks were headed right for each other. Then an almighty smack!

The boar hit the truck and was now underneath it squealing in agony. Three other trucks pulled up, all full of hunters who jumped out and were shouting manly things in French to each other and then three of them began to prod the squealing boar while it tried desperately to escape. Moments later it stumbled out from under the wheels already seriously injured and bloody. Boom! They shoot it dead!

My dog and I both stood in absolute stillness. I was drained and feeling queasy and wanted to go home. Various villagers came out on to the road to see what all the commotion was about.  I decided to head back to the car and retreat to the safety of our new home.

I had gone out for a peaceful day. As I drove home I thought “You couldn’t write this stuff!” What are the chances of events unfolding like they did? But perhaps out in the country this is what can be the brutal side behind the bucolic landscape we see and enjoy in front of us. I was glad to put the key in the door and make tea.


I am to date, an unpublished writer.  I am an ex professional ballet dancer who hung up the tutu and pointe shoes decades ago. I've been in business in the US, the UK and France and have recently decided to dedicate my time to writing.

I have am currently seeking an agent to promote my children's picture book series and am working on completing and editing my first novel.

I use short stories as my daily writing exercise to write succinctly.

This is a true story which happened to me and my dog the first week of moving to Southwest France. It unfolded right in front of me completely unexpectedly. Had both incidents not been so horrific to witness I would have thought I was watching some satirical short film of life in rural France.

I went out for a lovely Sunday walk and returned home, shell shocked and exhausted.

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