On  September 27th 2006 Poppy will be six months old.  But it is only now that all those kind people who have asked what she looks like will be able to see for themselves.
She has only now agreed to pose!
Poppy is full of character, incredibly nosey, great fun, very affectionate, but with a steely determination to do what she wants to do!  Having her photograph taken isn’t high on her agenda. Producing a camera results in excited barks and she becomes a whirling dervish - tearing round the room at high speed.
However, with a great deal of patience and occasional, “biscuit bribery,”- at last, success!
Poppy is incorrigible! A firm, “No, Poppy!” or, “Naughty Girl!”,  simply results in much tail wagging, leaps in the air and, her piece de resistance, a roll on her back, legs in the air and her, “Aren’t I appealing?” act.  This is so funny, we frequently have to turn our backs and stifle our laughter.
Perfect peace reigns in the evening when, just as her Aunt Daisy did, she leaps to the top of the sofa, slowly curls around my neck and sleeps.
Because I’d noticed she was slightly wary if we met other, larger, dogs on our walks, our close friend, Lindsay Williams - a dog trainer, like her husband Anthony - suggested we had a few socialization classes!
So, a few days later, we met a group of dog owners who politely introduced themselves.
Their dogs also introduced themselves - in the manner of all dogs!  Poppy wagged her tail all the time, unfazed by the fact that she was in company with much larger animals.
Retrievers, Alsatians, Ridgebacks, Labradors - and little Poppy - lined up with their owners at one end of a large field.
The larger dogs obeyed every instruction from their owners with military precision.
“Sit!”; “Down!”; “Walk!”; “Stay!”
I watched with growing admiration.  I hoped Poppy was looking and learning.  I glanced down.  She was digging a small hole!
Then - she saw Lindsay and pulled like mad to get to her.  (They are a mutual admiration society!)
After much persuasion and praise, Poppy did, “Sit!”, four times.  But not for very long!
We watched the remainder of the hour long class and, at its end, Lindsay asked all owners to go to the other end of the field, leaving their dogs in the, “Down!”, position.
The dogs didn’t move a muscle.  I almost clapped. It was like Crufts!
At the word, “Come!”, each dog ran at speed, stopped, walked round their respective owners and sat down on their left sides.  It was amazing!
Then, to my horror, Lindsay said, “Janet! Let’s see if Poppy will do it.”
With pseudo confidence, I replied, “Yes, that’s fine,” and, leaving her with Lindsay, I trudged across the field muttering, “Poppy! Please, please, do this!”
Lindsay dropped the lead!  I shouted to Poppy, “Come!”  Did she?  No, she did not!
Thrilled to be with Lindsay, she showed off terribly - jumping up and own, biting Lindsay’s shoes and performing her, “rolling on her back,” routine.
The other owners made an effort to appear solemn.
“Try again, Janet!” called out Lindsay.
Fearing further humiliation, I produced a very deep, dark, “Avon,” like voice…….
Whereupon - she did! Liked greased lightning, her red lead trailing behind her.
I knelt down to stop her and was covered with very sloppy licks!  Then, she turned tail and flew back to Lindsay!
Hysterical laughter from everyone.
It was then that I realised I would never be another Barbara Woodhouse.
I joined the group, smiling weakly.
“That’s the funniest thing I’ve ever seen,” said someone. From another - “Poppy is priceless, isn’t she?  And so gorgeous!”
Lindsay consoled me.  “Don’t worry!  Poppy’s only a baby and it was her first class.  She did, ‘sit’, and did run to you - eventually.  She was fine with all the other dogs.  Well done!”
What a kind friend I have!

The old routine is back……
Up at 7am., bleary eyed, I open the kitchen door and a small bundle of affectionate energy hurls herself at me as if we have been apart for months. We play. Then it’s breakfast and Poppy wags her tail even as she eats.
Two walks a day.  In the morning - short walk/short lead.  In the afternoon - long walk/long lead. A lead which extends to 25 feet - wonderful invention!  Poppy runs back and forth and I follow on sedately, as befits my age.
She loves these walks.  Particularly when we meet other people’s dogs.  She’s a very social animal!
If it’s a pleasant day, I take Poppy to visit my mother in her Nursing Home. 
Six old ladies sit under a huge oak tree watching the ducks diving in a pretty pond.

They make a fuss of Poppy - which she loves. Memories of dogs they have owned, or known, come flooding back and I sit and nod, enjoying their reminiscences.

One day, a very, very old lady in a wheelchair asked, “Will Poppy be an Alsatian when she’s bigger?”
I smiled and nodded.  I didn’t want to hurt her feelings by saying that was unlikely!  (Poppy is a miniature, wire-haired dachshund.)  She smiled and nodded back.  When I glanced at her later, she was fast asleep.
Poppy has brought our home to life again and helped to fill the huge gap left by Daisy.
We hope and pray she will stay healthy and live a long and happy life with us, as we grow old together.
Last week, we met a group of seven year old children walking home from school.  On seeing Poppy, they surrounded us, asking endless questions, whilst gently stroking her.
They thought  it very funny that some people would call Poppy a, “sausage dog,” and were still giggling as they ran after their mothers.
One little boy remained.  He stared at Poppy for a long while.  Then, he looked up at me and said, very seriously, “Do you know.  I think Poppy is probably the most beautiful puppy in the world!”
He turned and raced after the others.
I called out - “Thank you very much!”
I thought to myself - He’s absolutely right!  She certainly is.  Well - to us anyway!