Both dogs had access to the fenced back yard. Poppy followed Duke around and learned manners the first summer. Talk about the odd couple. Duke was an extremely large standard collie, 36” at the shoulder and over six feet on his back legs. Poppy was, well, a dot on the ground.
That dog lived with Jan in her car, out with friends every night. He went camping with the gang in their favorite field near Jamestown, New York. The architectural feature of the field was a door frame, standing, with a working door. “Hey, Poppy. Want out?” Someone would open the door, Poppy went through and waited on the other side for the question to be posed again. If that amused them, he could play along.
The extended family vacation in 1976 was the Grand Bicentennial Tour. We had all my parent’s grandchildren, plus a couple of spare kids, as usual. We went first to Niagara Falls, not bicentennial, but on the way.
Mom and some grandkids at Niagara Falls
Then Valley Forge, then Philadelphia, then Boston, Lexington, Concord…the Grand Bicentennial Tour.
Dad stayed home that year; he was out of stamina. Mom drove the big Dodge Polaris, with Walt and Hazel and several grandkids and pulled one pop up camper. It was a mobile living room. Jan and I were in my Dodge Colt station wagon, with Poppy, the balance of the kids and the other camper. Poppy sat on the front seat with me. He’d noodge me a little to get more comfy. I’d shift. Later, another noodge. Another shift. By the time we stopped, I generally sat on the door handle and Poppy on the seat.
Poppy at Niagara Falls
Niagara Falls could have been a disaster. Poppy was put down and charged straight into the river. Jan had a firm grip thereafter. Poppy was a pro by the time we’d toured our way to Philadelphia. But he was stopped at the door of Liberty Hall. No dogs. Jan went to the park across the street and waited. At the very next stop I purchased a book bag and letters to spell his name down the side. We sat down and explained the bag to Poppy. “Your personal conveyance, old boy. Here’s the deal. You can ride here for the rest of the trip and watch the scenery go by. But, if we say ‘Get Down,’ you get down and wait for the all clear.” That was agreeable to Poppy and he spent the balance of the Tour riding in the bag on a shoulder. He toured buildings. He didn’t have to walk Concord to Lexington, he rode! He went to restaurants, parked under a table. A clean ashtray of water and tidbits. What a life. We were found out once, but only by the next several tables. “Is that a dog?” “Look at that cute dog.” “Mabel, there’s a darling dog under that table.” “There’s a little nose and eyes inside that bag.”
Poppy was the grand master of tricks at home, too. When Jan had to pack for a business trip, Poppy lost the use of one leg. We almost fell for it the first time. With that faint hope to buoy him, he found more and more serious injuries to feign when he saw the suitcase. Jan moved back home in 77 to stay with Dad and Poppy took his winning way with him to Akron. Sadly, too winning. He discovered the next door neighbor would feed him just for the asking. Nothing Jan said to Mrs. Smith made an impression. Jan put Poppy on a run to keep him in the yard and the treats were tossed over the fence. Soon the three pound dog was a ten pound lumbering caricature of a Yorkshire terrier. In desperation Jan gave him away to a couple who kept him to the end of his life, returned to his original handsome self.
Poppy did not know, of course, he was Poppy I. Neither did Jan, until she got a new Poppy just before we moved here. Poppy II was the spitting image of Poppy, but entirely more fragile. Two knees had to be repaired. He was a sweet little fellow, but accident prone. Fell right off the deck one time, chasing a squirrel and went fifteen feet down onto bricks. He was not deterred; he could chase any squirrel up the oak in the front yard and keep it there for hours, as there were no trees nearby to escape to.
Jan and Poppy II
Perhaps we didn’t give him the opportunity to brilliant, but I think he really preferred being a sweet little dog who loved life, laps and people. There was not a devious bone in his body; he would never have agreed to the bottom of the book bag trick. He did hornswoggle mom into making him a place at the end of her bed and putting him there every night. That would be the mom who trained every cat in the house, including the ones who loved her, to stay out of her room. On the other hand, he wouldn’t have hogged the car seat or jumped into the Niagara River.
Poppy II and Bekka enjoy lunch