6 December 2023

And They Called It Poppy Love

The 29th August 2023 started out like a normal day. It was a Tuesday, so Dad was off to the market with a trailer load of fat lambs. Before we loaded them, we went to the lambing shed, where a handful of smaller lambs were still being given extra feed. I bent to scoop nuts from the large container into a bucket, meanwhile Dad went to fetch water. Business as usual until -

"What's that?" Dad asked, causing me to look up from what I was doing. Something small and black was approaching us, but at Dad's voice it darted away again, hiding behind a trailer parked at the far end of the shed. My heart had done a little jump at the unexpected thing, whatever it was, but this was no mouse or rat! We both stopped what we were doing to have a closer look. Dad thought it was, somehow, a young lamb - I suspected it was a cat.

It wasn't long before we realised exactly what we were looking at - a dog! A little, black dog. Dad tried calling it to him, but it only came halfway before shying and running to hide again. Nuts forgotten, I had a go. This time, the tiny dog came all the way over, and I chanced picking it up. The poor thing was skin and bones, trembling with fear and digging its claws into my arm. It was obvious that this wasn't just a small dog, but a puppy. A young puppy.

I held her for a while, trying to be soothing, until I had no choice but to close her into the dog house while we got these lambs sent off. I returned about an hour later and had no trouble picking her up. She had no collar, smelled strongly of a dirty bed. She was nervous coming into the house - I got the impression she'd never been in a house before.

I took a short video - she was scared but friendly.

Dad's wellies smelled very interesting.

She also looked hungry, so I prepared a tiny portion of food - I didn't want to make her sick. That went down very well indeed.

I managed to locate one of Susan's collars from when she was a puppy which fit our surprise guest perfectly. After being fed and watered, she was transformed - her little tail was wagging! She was looking excited!

We've had dogs turn up on the farm before - although, they were always older dogs that had clearly got lost, from somewhere. Usually, one phone call to the local veterinary surgery is all it takes for the owner to get in touch and arrange to fetch their dog. This puppy was starving and immediately so clingy to me that it was extremely unlikely that she had run away from anywhere. Nonetheless, I made the call - no puppies reported missing. We let things sit until the next day, and when still no one had turned up or called, we took her into the surgery to check for a microchip - it wasn't really a surprise when there was none. Missing dog pages online had also turned up nothing.

As for the puppy, she was thriving, getting more and more confident around us. Mum was immediately in love as well. And to be honest, as much as I was doing my very best to remain level-headed, after that vet visit I was starting to call her Poppy in my head. And by that evening, the name had been said out loud...

So Poppy it was, and while we still waited for a phone call that would mean that an owner had turned up, we got to know each other.

These photos are all from day two of Poppy being with us.

I could already trust her in the yard too. She never strayed far from my feet. (As you can see, the lambing shed door has a gap at the bottom that she could have squeezed through.)

She had a very sweet face.

If she was unsure about something, she would come and sit at my feet.

Another thing about Poppy was that she didn't seem to know how to play. I would gently roll a ball along the floor for her, but she just watched it roll away and then turned to me for more strokes. It took a couple of days, but finally she started to play.

The phone call never came, in the end. No one came looking. We concluded that poor Poppy was dumped, perhaps at the end of our lane, and that she went looking for some food or shelter in the lambing shed. But, really, we know very little about her. For me (and her, if her clinging is anything to go by) it was love at first sight. One of those things that was just meant to be, I suppose.

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