As I write this, our perfect little angel/devil Poppy is currently ripping every last shred of stuffing out of an already limb-less Scooby Doo stuffie she got for Christmas. She’s not much of a chewer but when she has a goal in mind, she is laser focused on completing the task. I got up a few minutes ago to collect a bit of the stuffing to throw out and she put my whole hand in her mouth, acting like she was gonna try and stop me but as soon as I looked at her, she turned it into a big yawn, so my girl can act too.
Like a lot of shelter pups, it’s been a journey with Pops. I will say, this post is filled with cliches but it’s just how it went down so I’m not even gonna try to change it. The first cliche is that I’ve been dabbling in manifestation a bit more and all I’m sayin is that I put a picture of a dog on a vision board I made around New Year’s last year, in September of 2021 Poppy came into our life and wow is my heart full. As I said, this little Pit Terrier/Siberian Husky mix is an absolute “I can be your angel, or your devil” kinda pup. She’s down to chill all day, sleeping in her favorite chair while I read or write or do whatever it is I need to do, and she’s also down to get the zoomies out of nowhere, jump up on the coffee table and spill all three beverages that were on said table at once. Keepin us on our toes from Day 1! We love our little spitfire.
For the past 3 years I was living in an apartment that didn’t allow pets, and finally in the summer of last year I moved into a pet-friendly space and started seriously considering a dog. I don’t remember the exact scenario, but a few months after moving, my boyfriend showed me a photo of a dog available at a local shelter. *cue cliche moment #2* I litrally froze when I saw the picture of Poppy. I had that gut feeling like “that’s my dog” and I couldn’t even think of words to say, which is very unlike me. I kind of short-circuited and said something like “I have to talk about it later! I can’t talk about it right now” as if it was a life-or-death situation. A few days later, I called up the shelter to see if she was still available and made an appointment to meet her the next day when I found out she somehow hadn’t been scooped up yet.
I walked into the shelter and the woman working there said I could go to the back and see if Poppy wanted to run around outside at all. I went to the kennel area, and she was immediately on high alert. She had her front half in her kennel and her back half in a fenced in outside section of her kennel. I could see going into her space was not gonna be the move, so I tried to coax her out. She steady barked at me for probably the first 30 minutes anytime I got closer or tried to talk to her. Eventually once the woman from the shelter who she’d spent the last few weeks with came outside to a bigger outdoor play area, she followed her out and I joined. Again, it was probably another 20 minutes or so of me sitting on the ground trying to get her to come to me, but anytime I’d move she’d get spooked and jump away. Finally, I stood up and started walking slowly towards her kinda bent over like I was gonna sneak up on her, but she could see me the whole time. She dropped into a downdog “I wanna play” position with her tail up, and I was freaking IN dude. I chased her and juked her out, running in a figure 8 with her, keeping a good distance and letting her set the pace. After a few more minutes of this, she let me take her on a bit of walk/run in the empty parking lot next to the shelter where I got to pet her for the first time. The worst part was having to go home without her and leave her in the shelter where she was the only pup.
I made plans to meet up with them the next day at a river by my house so Poppy could feel free in a neutral space and have plenty of room to decide when and if she wanted to approach anyone. She was on a big 30-foot leash and absolutely tearing through the water like a bat out of hell. She’d bite the water, scooping it into her mouth and being playful, finally letting her personality shine through. She even doggy-paddled a bit when she followed a bigger dog into a deeper part of the river where she didn’t realize she couldn’t touch. I also wanna mention here that I was recently unemployed at the time and wasn’t sure what my next step was, so I wasn’t feeling the best about life in general. In comes the third cliche of the story: sometimes there really are silver linings to shitty situations and sometimes things really do happen for a reason. I had so much free time that allowed me to hang with Poppy at the river a few more times after that, playing and getting to know each other better each time, bonding like we were destined to be together.
My boyfriend unfortunately didn’t have the luxury of unlimited time off because he was working his usual Mon-Fri 8-6 construction job (so hot). This lack of bonding time didn’t help the fact that Miss Poppy seems to have dealt with some abuse in her past, although we’re not sure what her specific situation was. She has an aversion to men in general, especially burly ones with beards and larger builds. All the shelter knew of her past was that Poppy was an owner surrender at a shelter in Texas. She was believed to be living in a hoarding situation, we think animals, but possibly things as well. Either way, she was pregnant at the time she was given up and luckily a woman who lives part time in Texas and part time in my little Colorado town rescued her and her unborn pups from a forever sleep.
She brought Poppy to the shelter in Colorado where she gave birth a few days/weeks later and all her puppies were adopted out, leaving our little mama chillin at the shelter for the next few weeks (dis kills me). I live with my friend and her 4-year-old daughter, so although Poppy never showed any signs of aggression even when she was scared, we opted to do a few weeks of a foster-to-adopt period to make sure she got along okay with kids and was going to be alright around my boyfriend. During this foster period we took her over to a friends house where she got to romp around with a few other pups, hang out around a bit of a crowd including kids, and she did fuckin amazing. I was so goddamn proud of her. She was a little nervous for the first few minutes, but once I got her leash off and she was able to roam freely, she was relaxed and having so much fun. She only came to find me a couple times, kinda relying on me to make sure everything was cool but ultimately doing her own thing and being a brave little squirrel.
As much as I’d love to be able to let my little queen Frostine roam around off leash, the husky runs strong in her and for now I’d rather be safe than sorry. After a few escapes, we’ve quickly discovered she’s a bolter if given the chance, mainly when she’s distracted by birds or other little critters, or when she just wants to run like the wind, bullseye. Not trying to be one of those “my kid is so smart” kinda people, but this dog is one of the fastest little fuckers I’ve ever seen. We’ve started calling her White Lightning at the dog park because she’s gone like a bullet out of a gun as soon as she has enough open space to run. There’s a hill in our neighborhood we walk every morning and on the days I’m feeling awake enough, all I have to say is the word “Mush” and she’ll take off, me trailing behind, arm and leash fully extended, trying my best to not hold her back too much. Miss Poppy Jean also is very independent in that if she doesn’t want to come back to you, she won’t, and she’ll act like it’s up to her to decide when she lets you get her back on the leash. Love that for her, but also my god it’s so annoying and hopefully something that eventually she’ll want to just come to be immediately because she knows I’m her person. One time she escaped before my roommate could get the leash on her and proceeded to explore the neighborhood basically solo. My poor roomie was about to call me to tell me what happened as she headed back to our apartment, but just as she entered through the door she’d left open, she saw Poppy John calmly sitting in a chair in the corner, her vibe entirely giving off “I was wondering when you’d come back, I’ve been waiting for hours”.
Clearly I could gush about this little b-word ad-nauseum, so I’ll wrap it up here. Today marks 4-months since adopting her and it truly feels like we’ve had her in our lives for 4 years, it’s just so natural. I’m sure there will be some more monologues about Poppy Amelia Mignonette Grimaldi Thermopolis Renaldo in the future, so I’ll end this one with my favorite photo from her gotcha day:
Thank you for coming to my TED talk.