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Poppy in the Wild: A Lost Dog, Fifteen Hundred Acres of Wilderness, and the Dogged Determination that Brought Her Home

Review

Poppy in the Wild: A Lost Dog, Fifteen Hundred Acres of Wilderness, and the Dogged Determination that Brought Her Home

The title of Teresa J. Rhyne’s book is a bit misleading. It’s not just about a beagle from China who escapes from her foster family and gets lost in a California wilderness area. It’s also the story of Teresa (I feel like we are on a first-name basis) and her love for animals.

Teresa starts her story in a delightfully conversational manner, and her writing is imbued with humor. She is describing her partner, Chris, who laughs at her determination to save dogs as she is driving with one in her back seat: “He had a great sense of humor, and he’d need it. Because I hadn’t yet told him about the dog in my back seat. (I will. I will. I’m just practicing telling you first.)” She is telling her story to us, and we are literally invited on the ride: “Hop in the car. You may as well come along for the rest of the drive.” We also are offered French fries. Who can resist?

"Teresa starts her story in a delightfully conversational manner, and her writing is imbued with humor.... POPPY IN THE WILD is a wonderful, heartwarming read."

Poppy was Teresa and Chris’ third dog, and they lived in two places (Riverside and Paso Robles) that allowed only two dogs. So after they had Poppy for a few scant weeks, someone wanted to foster her. And that’s when poor Poppy escaped her harness and disappeared.

Any dog lover can imagine the anguish and torment that Teresa, Chris and the fosters suffered through when Poppy was gone. They worried about coyotes, cars on highways and mountain lions. Our dogs are precious, and we want to protect them with every fiber of our being. Poppy, who had been bred for slaughter in China, was lost in a huge wild area and was not used to being on her own.

The book reads like a novel, and the chapters and the action flow quickly. We learn what to do if a dog escapes, but, perhaps most importantly, we learn what not to do: “Please do not chase.” “Dog is frightened and will run. Do not call his name.” Teresa explains the reason for this rule and its significance.

Even though at times she disregards the suggestions of the dog-finding experts (we want to scream at her to tell the volunteers not to walk around looking for Poppy), Teresa shares all of their knowledge and advice. It is crucial to get the word out through posters; putting them on street lights but low enough so people in cars can see them is most effective.

There’s even a twist at the end. I’m not revealing it, but (minor spoiler here) when Poppy finally is rescued and ends up safe and sound with Teresa and Chris, the way she’s found is completely unexpected.

POPPY IN THE WILD is a wonderful, heartwarming read. You will love meeting Teresa and will want to take her out for a drink in Paso Robles, a charming town near San Luis Obispo in California. As she says, it’s wine country and it’s beautiful. Maybe you will even want to adopt a beagle. But, as she points out, there are countless dogs and cats in need of foster homes and adoptive families. There’s even one waiting for a home near you.

Reviewed by Pamela Kramer on November 20, 2020

Poppy in the Wild: A Lost Dog, Fifteen Hundred Acres of Wilderness, and the Dogged Determination that Brought Her Home
by Teresa J. Rhyne

  • Publication Date: October 6, 2020
  • Genres: Memoir, Nonfiction
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Pegasus Books
  • ISBN-10: 1643135422
  • ISBN-13: 9781643135427