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Hello, my name is Poppy! Maybe you've already heard of me; I've become something of a celebrity in the Mt. Lebanon, PA area. I am not only a survivor, I am a miracle dog!

I am a very handsome, 3.5 year old boy, and one of the "Indiana 30" that came in to IG Rescue from the same home in November 2003. I spent three months with my wonderful foster family in Louisville, Kentucky -- Jamie, Lisa and their IG Bodhi -- before an approved home in Pittsburgh started asking about me. My foster family really adored me, but decided that Annie and Biff's home would be a great forever home for me. I would have my people home a little more often there, and I would have a wonderful companion in their 7.5 year old Iggy, Ella.

On Thursday, February 12, 2004, Annie flew all the way to Louisville to bring me home to Pittsburgh. I was a little nervous during my first flight -- I chewed a nose-sized hole through the Sherpa bag under Annie's seat, and she stayed leaned over, petting my nose, through the whole flight!

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When we arrived at my forever home, I met my new dad, Biff, and my new IG sister, Ella. We had a great evening, all snuggled together on the couch. Ella and I really hit it off, spending much of the evening cuddling like we had been together forever! Annie sent photos to Angela, Jamie and Lisa right away, and their hearts melted at how content I looked in my new home.

The only problem that first night was, I was a little too nervous to potty. Annie took me outside to try several times during the evening, with no luck. Around 9:30 p.m., she had me out for my last potty of the evening when the unthinkable happened. Nervous and confused by the excitement of the day, I managed to slip my lead out of Annie's hand, and I was on the run, with my red leash still trailing behind me.

Annie tried her best to catch up with me, but of course I was much too fast. She ran home and got Biff, and although they caught five or six sightings of me that night, they just couldn't catch me. The last sighting of me was around 11:15 p.m., a few blocks from my new home, at Altadena and Crescent near the Markham School. Although I didn't mean to, I certainly had my new family very upset! Making matters worse, the temperatures dropped into the 20s on Thursday night.

Annie called Angela on Friday morning to tell her the awful news. She and Angela posted flyers all over the neighborhood to tell people about me, and handed them out to local residents, service workers and kids. They notified the local shelters, animal controls, police departments and veterinarians. Annie and Biff placed an ad in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. My new family and their friends searched the neighborhood on foot, but there were no sightings of me at all on Friday, and the temperatures dropped into the 20s again that night. But somehow, I was finding places to stay safe and warm!

On Saturday morning, Angela had already set out searching for me on foot with her two IGs, Vito and Bo, when Annie drove by. "I just got a call. He's been sighted on Markham Drive!" she said. She drove off in that direction, and Angela and her IGs ran that way too, but they didn't see me. Annie got several calls in quick succession as I moved around the neighborhood over the next half hour or so. She told Angela to head down Inglewood, which she did. When Angela, Vito and Bo reached the end of Inglewood, they turned on to Seneca, walking slowly and calling my name. Suddenly, I popped out about 12 feet in front of them!

"Hi, Poppy!" Angela said, trying to sound friendly but not too excited. Vito and Bo stood nicely, wagging their tails, and Angela hoped they would look friendly and approachable to me. "Come on and play with the puppies!" she said. I looked at them and thought about it, but I was just too nervous. I started to back away. "Oh, look, a cookie!" Angela said, pulling one of my favorite treats from her pocket. "Are you hungry, Poppy? Want this cookie?" She got down to my level and gently tossed the cookie on the ground, toward me. I was hungry, but again, I was just too nervous. I turned around and bolted. Angela called Annie to tell her which direction I was headed in.

Suddenly, Biff saw me darting across Washington Road -- a busy, four-lane highway! Amazingly, I made it across safely. Annie and Angela got over to the other side right away, and started asking walkers and joggers if they had seen me. They had, and pointed out which direction I went. I crossed Lynn Haven, Rock Lynn, and the last time I was sighted, I was headed down toward Mt. Lebanon Blvd., another very busy commercial street.

Now my new family and friends started to saturate this new neighborhood with my flyers. About 1,000 flyers were posted or distributed overall -- it was just about impossible to find someone in Mt. Lebanon who hadn't heard of me! Angela went down to the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society to get a humane trap to set up in the area where I was last seen. Annie set it up in a wooded area behind Lynn Haven, hoping that yummy, strong-smelling food would help to lure me there. But I never showed up in the trap, and in fact, after 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, there were no further sightings of me.

Over the weekend, the temperatures in Pittsburgh dropped to 6 degrees at night. My new family and friends tirelessly continued to search for me, hoping that I somehow found a way to defy the odds, but after the very cold weather and several days without a sighting, they were starting to feel very sad.

On Wednesday morning, around 11:45 a.m., Annie called Angela. There had been a new sighting of me, on Jefferson Drive in the Mission Hills housing plan! I had been spotted napping behind one house, and licking the grease from a grill on someone's patio. This was only a few streets over from my last sightings on Saturday; thankfully, I had stayed on the same side of Washington Road and hadn't tried to cross the busy highway again. Now that they had a specific area to focus on, my family and friends really began to intensify the search on Jefferson and the surrounding streets. There were already flyers posted on the streets, but now every household in the neighborhood got a copy. Annie moved the humane trap to the area where I was spotted napping, and filled the dish inside with warm, strong-smelling sausage. The neighborhood kids were happy to get involved in the search, using walkie-talkies to communicate their sightings of me.

There were several more sightings of me on Wednesday evening, around 5 p.m., but no one had any luck catching me. Angela got a second, larger humane trap, a better size for a toy dog like me, from the Humane Officers at Animal Friends. That trap took the place of the smaller trap, and was filled with warm hamburger. The smaller trap stayed positioned nearby, just in case. Our friend Peggy placed warm blankets with lots of dog smells from her own house around the area where I was spotted napping. That night was a little warmer, just above freezing, and Annie planned to come back around 6 a.m. the next morning. By the times of my sightings, they had figured out that I was usually on the move from around 8 a.m. to 11 a.m., and then again from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

On Thursday morning, there were more sightings of me on Jefferson. This was good news, I had stayed in the area! Annie planned to ask one of the neighbors whose houses I had been sleeping behind to grill some steaks that evening. She hoped that I would notice the smell while I was on the move that evening, come back to the area and be lured into the humane trap (where of course, there would be grilled steak waiting for me!). That evening, of all the luck, the man's grill was broken! But I was still coming around, looking for food...

Like clockwork, I was on the move around my normal time of 4 p.m., and the neighborhood kids had joined in the search again. They were communicating sightings of me on their walkie-talkies, and lo and behold, I wandered right up to the larger humane trap. I was munching on something nearby, possibly the turkey that Peggy had dropped around the trap for me earlier on Thursday, when the kids' dad told them to stay on the porch and be quiet while Annie snuck up on me.

Annie tried to be as quiet as possible as she closed in on me. But the snow and ice on the ground made this just about impossible, and I heard her. I started to bolt again, right down the icy driveway behind the trap... but several of the neighborhood kids were right there waiting for me, and grabbed my leash (thank you so much, John, Gavin, Daniel and Erin)! Just like that, at 4:55 p.m. on Thursday, my SEVEN DAY ordeal was over. Angela was just turning onto Jefferson Drive to join the search again when Annie called with the news that I was safe, sound, in her car and on my way to the vet!

Angela met up with Annie in the parking lot of the vet. I was in the passenger seat of the car, curled up on a snuggle ball, looking utterly exhausted. I was very skinny, my white fur was grey, and I smelled just awful, but I was ALIVE! I could stand on all fours, walked just fine and only had a few little scrapes to show for my adventure. We went inside, and Angela and especially my new mom showered me with pets and kisses while we waited to be seen. Everyone at the vet couldn't believe my amazing story! Angela said I had to be the most resourceful IG alive to have survived for a whole week, especially in such freezing weather.

During my week on the run, I had lost 1/4 of my body weight, dropping from 16 lbs. to 12 lbs. I was seriously dehydrated, enough that the vet needed to keep me overnight to take care of me, give me IVs and do bloodwork to make sure my kidneys hadn't been damaged. Annie's heart broke at the thought of having to spend another night without me at home, but she knew that it was most important to get me healthy again. She called the vet later that night to check on me, and they said that my bloodwork had come back just fine and I was sleeping peacefully. No kidding -- I just might sleep for a month!

After about 24 hours at the hospital, I was allowed to go home. Angela and her friend Elaine, who had also helped in the search for me, met up with Annie at the vet to get the humane traps from her, and of course to see me. I looked like I was starting to gain weight back already! They had given me a bath, so my white fur was white again. But best of all, the light was back in my eyes. Annie wrapped my leash around her wrist and tucked me under her other arm to carry me to the car. It was drizzling rain outside, and when I got into the car, Angela and Elaine noticed me doing a little shake... a prissy little "ugh, I've been drizzled on!" shake. After being out for a week in the bitter cold, my new friends thought this was very amusing, and proof that I was going to be JUST fine.

Judging by the really amazing effort of all of my family and friends to find me and bring me home, I think I might be the most loved dog around. My new family plans to keep me safely inside for a while, and to be extra vigilant during my adjustment period to my new home, since I'm still bound to be nervous until I settle in. My new dad also says that, to keep me extra safe, they are going to fence the yard for Ella and me as soon as the ground thaws. I am really lucky to have found such a wonderful, devoted forever family, and I can't wait to begin my new life with them at last!

Update: On February 25, 2004, my story made the front page of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette South edition! You can read the story, "Ever try to catch a greyhound?" here at the Post-Gazette's website. There was even a photo of me with my new family... who could possibly resist this sweet, innocent face?

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