Poppy, a Guide Dog, remembered

A story about a guide dog.

She was born on 3 September 1992 at the Guide Dog Breeding and Training Centre at Homai, South Auckland, a black bundle of fluff, from a litter of nine pups.  As a pup, she met up with her Puppy Walkers in Henderson and guide dog training began.

This picture shows Poppy, as a puppy, sitting in the garden. Poppy is a black labrador learning to be a Guide Dog
Poppy’s first day with her Puppy Walker family

Her Puppy Walkers taught her to socialise with people and other dogs; to travel by train, by bus and or even to fly; to toilet appropriately; to become familiar with the noises of the city and to eat from her own plate upon command.

Once she learnt these skills and more she returned to the Centre for six months of Guide Dog training and that was when I met Poppy.  She knew it all and I was the one learning to follow.  After three weeks, we both graduated.

For 18 months, we walked many a mile up Queen Street to the IRD and after work; it was back down Queen Street and up to the bus stop in Victoria Street.  The bus drivers all knew her as did the passengers.

Poppy and I did many trips on the ferries and buses to Takapuna, Birkenhead and the City for shopping or appointments.  Poppy and I walked mile after mile, from Highbury to home and a few 7 km loops around the big block.

I was surprised at quickly she learnt.  Poppy remembered shops, banks, bus stops etc., and she could take you back there on command.  Crossings and ramps, she knew them all.  My husband, Denis, had trouble finding passages to lifts and ramps, but Poppy and I did well.

This picture shows Poppy with her head in a nearly empty bag of Tux dog biscuits
Poppy is off duty and doing normal dog stuff

Obstacles were always there.  Going up the road on a rubbish day was quite entertaining, but Poppy and I missed them all.

She was a real friend, a good worker, gentle and a great companion. I really miss her and the freedom she gave me

One day a bus running a red light came hurtling around the corner.  Even though we had the crossing, Poppy stopped suddenly, put her nose across my knee and pulled me back onto the footpath, which we had just stepped off.  Other pedestrians crossing, moved back also in a hurry and were amazed at the quickness of Poppy.  She saved me a couple of times from injury and if things were not quite right, she got very worried.  There was a real trust in her.

Poppy travelled around both the North and South Island in our motor home.  She loved going for walks through the bush, to the beach, to the park, swimming and meeting other dogs.

Now after 12 years it was time for Poppy to retire.  Some days her guiding was starting to slip and the Centre decided to semi-retire her.  This meant Poppy could only work if there was a sighted person beside us.  A couple of months later the Centre retired her completely.

On 5 February 2005, Denis, Smudge (the cat) and I said goodbye to Poppy.  Poppy’s retirement home was in Pakuranga – a working dog no longer.  Poppy died in 2006.

Poppy was very trustworthy, a good working dog, a great friend and companion.  I miss her terribly as do others.

Author: Pat M

wife, mother and grandmother

4 thoughts on “Poppy, a Guide Dog, remembered”

  1. Mum told me some more stories about Poppy and they were all about visits to Countdown (local supermarket).

    Poppy knew where the pet food aisle was
    Poppy would wander around the supermarket with Mum, looking down each aisle until she spotted Dad
    and best of all Poppy was at the checkout with Mum and Dad. It was a checkout with confectionery at child height. On the way through the checkout Poppy took an Easter Egg


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