Snakes and Snails and Poppy Dog Tales

by | Jul 31, 2019 | The Writer's Life | 9 comments

The Puppies Are Here!
If you recall in my last episode of puppy fever back in April (Ten Reasons I Shouldn’t Get A New Puppy), I was trying to talk myself off the gotta-have-a puppy-now ledge. Our wonderful 12 y.o. boxer (rescue dog) had so many health issues, and our 9 y.o. standard poodle, Charlie, was far too rambunctious for her. I figured if we got another standard poodle puppy, the two poodles could play and the boxer could have some peace. I found what I thought to be the perfect standard poodle pup not too long after that blog posted, and learned that the breeder tests all her puppies for temperament to assure that the right puppy is going to the right home.  Our puppy landed about in the middle on all counts. This means she’ll make a good family pet. 
Some might be interested to know that standard poodles make very fine hunting dogs. They’re also the second smartest dog of all breeds right behind the border collie, though it’s possible they haven’t been given all the credit they deserve because many poodles insist on foo-foo haircuts. This ensures that they’re placed in the “non-sporting group” in all the big dog shows. No doubt they figured out that hunting dogs have to get up at zero-dark-thirty when it’s cold and dark out, so their humans can shoot ducks out of the sky, then insist that the dog swim through the icy water to retrieve them. 
The Wing Test
Sadly, not every dog is smart enough to avoid this sort of future. The helpful breeder gives puppies “the wing test.” A pup that aggressively goes after the bird wing will make a good hunting dog. Some pups will make a half-hearted attempt. Our puppy, being extremely smart, stood there and completely ignored the wing. Clearly, she had her heart set on a nice cushy bed and being able to sleep-in most mornings. 
But back to my brilliant plan: a summer puppy. My goal was to spend my afternoons writing on the patio while the puppy played on the lawn, thereby missing the usual trials and tribulations of potty training. 
Such Innocence!
In theory, this sounds like a great idea. Reality, however, is something completely different. Puppies, like toddlers, explore with their mouths. Unlike (most) toddlers, puppies are far more destructive. And they don’t wear diapers. (A very bad combination when you’re on a book deadline. How is it no one reminded me that puppies are little pooing-peeing machines? Good thing they’re so cute!) Lucky for me, I have a husband who helps corral the little varmint when needed. And stays up in the middle of the night helping me to give the pup a bath when the unforeseeable accident happens (because who knew if a puppy doesn’t poo before bed, she might not be able to hold it till morning?).
We think she’s a poodle…
The other tough thing about getting a pup is coming up with a proper name. “A girl has no name” was how I introduced her on a Facebook post after we brought her home. In fact, she had no name for about a week as we tested and rejected various possibilities, including Arya (Game of Thrones, for the five people who haven’t seen it). Without going into all the suggested names, we (meaning me) finally decided on Poppy. It fits. She’s as beautiful as one, but she also pops all over the place. Sure, there are times we think we accidentally brought home a little black lamb. Or a bear cub. Or a vampire bat (she has really sharp teeth and she avoids the sun—maybe because it’s been near 100 every day she’s lived with us). But when I look at those eyes and that sweet little face, she is definitely a Poppy. 

New Friends
Being a puppy, Poppy instantly fell in love with Charlie. Charlie, however, was not so enamored of her, nor her razor fangs. (Apparently, Charlie has no memory whatsoever of how much she tortured our poor boxer girl—nor how tolerant said boxer was of her  sharp teeth.) Poppy would bound over to Charlie, nip-nipping (you could actually hear her jaws snapping), while poor Charlie would try climbing into our laps to get away. 

There is a happy ending—at least for Charlie. About a week or two into her tormented new life, she made the discovery that she is much, much bigger than Poppy. And Poppy made the discovery that when Charlie says no, she means it. The first take down startled all of us. Poppy ended up on the ground, staring in shock into that giant poodle mouth. Then Charlie nudged her with her nose, the game was on once more, and all was forgiven. 

 Uh, oh. Gotta go. Poppy’s off again!
(How about you, Rogue Readers? Any new puppies or kittens in your future?)

Don’t Miss a Thing!



  1. Karna Bodman

    Love this post, Robin. We have two Labradoodles – and since they are half poodle (and half Labrador) – they are pretty smart – at least half the time! But good luck handling THREE dogs — how you work on potty-training, "sit, come, stay" and all the rest while writing your next great thriller must be quite a challenge. Keep us posted – and love the photos!

  2. Chris Goff

    Our miniature poddle, Winston, has been gone for over six months now and I'm in the "I think I want a new puppy phase." Reading this makes me think I need to wait, however. It's not that I'm not willing to chase after the peeing-pooing machine, but we have some big trips scheduled this Fall. Daughter's getting married in October. Bouchercon. And then there's the three week cruise to Antarctica in December. Of course, if I got a puppy, I could let the house sitter help train her/him. Hmmmm. I think I may have a plan.

  3. Robin Burcell

    Hahaha! Not a bad plan. The only trade off is that you'll miss all those sweet little moments of puppyhood. And she'll be all grown up by the time you get back!

  4. Gayle Lynds

    Ohhh, Robin, you are such a bad influence on me! I follow all the doggie sites on Twitter and drool. And then I read your post and drooled some more. You and Poppy, Poppy and you. What an adorable, heart-expanding duo. Did you mention you have a novel to finish, a deadline???? 🙂

  5. Robin Burcell

    lol. Yes! Deadlines, puppy lines, it's all good! Wonder if I can say the puppy ate my homework?

  6. Lisa Black

    You can say the puppy ate your USB drive! That’s why the manuscript is late, you have to rewrite the whole second half…..!

    PS Thanks for explaining the Arya name, because I’m one of the five.

  7. Robin Burcell

    Brilliant, Lisa! (lol about Arya!)

  8. Jamie Freveletti

    One of my favorite breeds! (And Border Collies as well, but they require a LOT of exercise). Beautiful dog!

  9. Robin Burcell

    I'd love a border collie, but am pretty sure that I don't have the energy to properly care for one!