Poppy - Lovable Insanity

Poppy is a dog with a lot of issues no doubt compounded, if not created, by her rough start in life. I have no doubt had I not taken her when I did, she would no longer be here on earth. And THAT would be a tragedy. Yes, she has more than her share of baggage. But, above all, she is an intense and clever dog that is full of life, joy, and love. And she does something every single day that makes me laugh like no other dog could. How could you not love a dog that does insane stuff like this constantly:

Day after adoption
Poppy came into my life shortly after I moved from my last apartment into my own house. Ollie had been competing in the masters ring for awhile and had already finished his ADCH. I decided I wanted to adopt another dog to train for agility. I had been in the process of adopting another dog and was in the final stages of completing the adoption,but had some reservations about it. That's when I came across Poppy's picture on Petfinder. She was located at a shelter on the eastern shore of Maryland. There was something in the alertness of her expression that caught my attention (later I would understand it was more "crazed" than alert). I filled out an application and was approved and then went down to meet her with the idea that I would bring her home if she turned out to meet my criteria. One of my criteria was that she would measure under 16" because I wanted to continue to compete in the mini-dog division in USDAA. From her picture, I could see she had long legs, but the shelter had her listed as "small", so I gave them the benefit of the doubt. When I got to the shelter and found her kennel, the first thing that struck me was how she immediately locked on to me; it was like an instant click. The second thing I noticed - she probably was already over 16" and, at 6 months of age, had more growing to do. I was disappointed in her height, but decided to continue to get to
know her a little bit, so had her taken to the shelter's "get to know you" room. One might say that interaction revealed her energy level. She was WILD. But I know a lot of shelter dogs act that way when they get taken out of their runs. Turns out she really was wild though. I struggled and struggled with the decision to take her since she was taller than what I was looking for. But in the end, I couldn't leave her. I signed the papers and was handed a cyclone on the end of a leash that I loaded into my car. Little did I know what was in store...

Typical Poppy behavior seen 1000x a day in various locales
When I adopted her from the shelter at 6 months of age, she'd already cycled through several homes and shelter situations. I soon found out why. She was more than difficult to live with - severe separation anxiety and barrier anxiety, extremely high energy, no clue about being housebroken, counter surfing, and pushiness combined with  constant and annoying attention seeking behaviors (the refrain around the house when she would go into these modes would be "it dramas"). In other words, not a dog for the average pet home. That first year living with her was beyond difficult; I could go on and on retelling the specific horrors, but it would probably only induce PTSD symptoms if I attempt to type it out. Suffice it to say, those were times of turmoil and struggle. However, I saw how the good things outweighed the bad. I was determined to make the best of this dog and work through her issues the best I could. We both survived and formed a tight bond.

1st trial
2nd trial - Poppy AD
I began training Poppy for agility. She was amazing! She had so much potential. She had so much drive and learned everything so fast. I really thought that she would surpass Ollie's achievements. I entered her in her first trial (USDAA) at 19 months of age as a 22" championship dog. She Q'd in 4 out of 4 runs.  The following month, I entered her in her second trial. She Q'd in 5 out of 5 classes AND because that gave us all the Qs we needed, plus the 3 judge minimum, she finished her AD title. At 20 months old and in only 2 trials!!

Then everything fell apart. I had brought her to the Mid-Atlantic Agility Showcase and, I don't know what - the intensity in the atmosphere? Certain sounds? A combination of factors? Who knows? But her sensitivity to something turned on big time. She melted down in some form of doggy panic attack. This carried through to smaller local trials. Suddenly this dog who was still fast and focused in class, could barely manage to do more than an obstacle or two at a trial. After less than a handful of trials, I tried dropping her down to Performance 16" to see if that would have any effect on her stress levels. Nope. I started to do a little CPE with her. It was better - still some stress - but she managed some perfect weekends and finished titles. Then she had a scare with a loud teeter and didn't want anything to do with them anymore. A huge setback to be sure. Then came indications that there might be some issues with her physical soundness, particularly in her left rear leg. I've all but decided her agility trialing career is over, although I may consider doing an occasional NADAC trial with her at some point down the road. It's not on my radar in the near future however. 

Still, this is a high energy dog that needs something to do. At the suggestion of an agility instructor, I started taking Poppy to nose work classes. She LOVES it! Whenever I'm practicing, her loud exuberance can be heard for miles around. She passed her ORT on birch in March 2013 with a 7 second run. I'm just thankful I've found an activity that she can succeed in and enjoys with so much enthusiasm  and helps her focus and burn off some energy.

I wouldn't trade this dog's love and enthusiasm for anything.

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