Poppy was the fruit of two wonderful dogs, Mary Ray's 'Royale Dash' and Carol Blakiston's 'Woodsorrel Sorreline Red Russet'. This was a mating I had quite a bit of influence in as I knew that Mary was looking to breed Dash which wasn't proving easy and I was very familiar with Carol's line as we already had one of her dogs (Andy's beloved Molly.)
I desperately wanted a puppy from Dash as he was closely related to my first red and white collie 'Prawls Bess' who was bred from Royale lines and I also wanted a connection with Andy's Molly and importantly my special girl Abbey; this I got through Russet. For me, it was a perfect mating if it would happen. I put Mary and Carol in touch and luckily the mating was successful and the most wonderful litter of puppies was born. From this litter came Mary's special boy Quincy who most certainly has left a wonderful legacy throughout the agility world.
I held Poppy in my hands when she was just one day old. At the time I didn't know she was Poppy as I took forever to pick my puppy. I was very lucky and had pick of bitches and there were four, all of them gorgeous. My main focus was between two puppies neither of whom ended up being Poppy. I already had my name chosen - it was a name I always planned to use partly because of my love of red collies and partly because my very first collie cross was named by the rescue centre as Poppy. At the time I had my heart set on the name Lizzie so I changed her name (she was only a puppy) but I vowed to use this special name one day in the future.
Carol lived right on the Ashdown Forest at the time so I could easily visit the puppies and this I did on a very regular basis, probably driving Carol and her oh so patient husband Jack insane in the process. I spent hours and hours playing with the puppies, taking pictures and videos which I would send up to Mary as she wasn't able to visit living so far away. I picked Quincy for Mary at an early stage and was really happy when she agreed with my choice and really did pick him for herself.
About a week before the other people were due to pick their puppies, Carol started to gently prod me to make a choice. I left it right up until two days before the others were due to visit from the midlands (one of whom was my dear friend Dave Hurst). Unbeknown to me, Andy had picked Poppy right from the first day we saw her but didn't say anything as he wanted me to choose the right puppy for me. I sat on the floor absolutely flummoxed. I just couldn't pick between the two I liked 'no collar' and 'big blaze'. The pups were playing in a stable and I sat on the floor; Andy and Carol were in despair. They left me to think and as they walked away the little girl I had named as 'thin stripe' just climbed on my lap and snuggled up to me. I really hadn't paid her very much attention at all but I just looked at her and can remember saying out loud 'oh my god, you're Poppy' and that was it. I had picked my precious girl, rather she had picked me. Andy came back and asked me what I had decided, when I told him he just laughed and said, "what on earth took you so long?"
I know we all tend to look back with rose-tinted spectacles but Poppy really was the perfect dog. She was naturally well mannered, she didn't chew anything as a puppy, she was playful, she loved life, she loved to do anything with me and she was the sweetest dog you could ever meet - she didn't have a nasty bone in her body. She was a very small collie but what she lacked in size she more than made up for in attitude and
when unleashed in agility she truly was my 'pocket rocket.' I always felt that Poppy was born to do agility. She loved it with a passion and without doubt was the fastest learner I have ever worked with. She picked up things so quickly. She had the most amazing weave entries from anywhere, any angle and do you know, I really can't remember how I taught her. She just seemed to understand things and get on with them.
Poppy sustained a horrible injury (we believe in a collapsible tunnel) and I thought her agility career was over. We worked with the wonderful physiotherapist Sara Barnes for 17 months and not only did she resume a normal life (my sole aim) she came back to agility as fast and keen as ever. Poppy was Sara's very first agility patient and Poppy absolutely adored her. The day I ran her for the first time after months of therapy and rehab was so emotional. I cried my eyes out when we came out of the ring. She ran in Steve Treamer's agility and we left the ring winning the class. We ended up in 2nd place, I didn't mind being beaten because I was so happy to be running her again, plus the dog that beat me was Amanda Pigg's lovely Jag and the win took him to G7 so how could I begrudge that.
Poppy retired from agility at just over 10 years of age and had a wonderful and happy retirement. She used to love walking round the rings with me with her little orange 'chippy' chipmunk. That was her favourite reward. It's funny both she and Abbey loved those little toys.
Poppy and Abbey were very close, I can honestly say they never ever had a single cross word. They were great companions and Poppy was very down when we lost Abbey. Luckily for Poppy she made a second great friend in Andy's little Kizzy. They were inseparable in Poppy's last years. Kizzy has been quite down since losing Poppy and still lays on the rug beside my bed where Poppy's bed used to be. Kizzy never ever laid there before.
Sometimes my breath is taken away when I look at Tidey in certain poses. She is so like Poppy as a youngster, it tears at my heart.
I take comfort from the fact that I do believe that Poppy and Abbey are now reunited at the bridge along with Andy's Molly. Those three were something very special in both our lives.
So, to close here are some pictures of my beautiful girl but first of all, the words from my heart.
My darling little Poppy, I will never ever forget you and you will be forever in my heart. Abbey was so very special to me and you came along and quietly took second place in my affections or so it seemed to me at the time. As the years went by though, you stole my heart and your passing has left a massive hole which at the moment feels as if it won't heal. You truly stole my heart and I will miss you always. You were my heart dog and I don't understand why it took me so long to realise this. Sleep tight my beautiful girl.