Poppy and the dog parks

Published 11:17 pm Thursday, May 24, 2012

In my little over two months writing for the Suffolk News-Herald, we may have met or spoken on the phone, but most of our readers would be unaware that I come from the real “deep south” — Australia.

I raise this point not because it is in itself of any great consequence, but as a prelude for a story about a border collie destined to become one of Lake Meade’s most frequent visitors.

Poppy — named by the cattle ranchers we bought her from for her striking abundance of energy — was never going to be fostered out and left behind when my American wife and I decided to relocate to America.

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When we boarded the Qantas flight in Brisbane, she was somewhere in the cargo hold, no doubt scared out of her wits.

Sitting in the soon-to-be-eastbound United jet on the tarmac at Los Angeles International Airport 24 hours later, we saw her through the window trying to attack a baggage handler as he loaded her crate.

(She’s certainly not a vicious dog. Put your pooch in that situation — jet engines, just off a long-haul flight in a wooden box with breathing holes, a strange man wearing earmuffs and gloves — and it’d display behaviors you’d never seen.)

In Chesapeake 12 hours later, she was as jetlagged as we were, putting on her feed-time face at any given hour instead of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. precisely.

We wouldn’t have moved here if Poppy couldn’t have accompanied us, and among the increasing number of people and families moving to Suffolk who have pets, that notion would likely be shared.

To a lot of us, our pets are considered as much family members as our actual blood, human kin. We wouldn’t leave them behind, and we include them in our daily lives and leisure activities any way we can.

So when the City of Suffolk finishes setting up off-leash fenced areas at Lake Meade in the mid to late fall — if all goes according to plan — our treasured dog will be romping there with the rest of them, and it would be a safe bet to say there will be many others, or at least enough to make the project more than worthwhile.

Poppy will no longer play at the PETA dog park in Norfolk, because, as we have seen from her reaction to air travel, she doesn’t take well to confined spaces, and we have to take the Midtown Tunnel to get there.