The misadventure of a tiny five-pound Yorkshire terrier named Poppie caused four days of worry for her family and local volunteer rescue crews after the little dog swam to an isolated island.
On June 17, Poppie’s family had taken her to Gyro Beach with her twin sister Daisy when a larger dog chased the little terrier, causing her to bolt off the beach towards some tennis courts near Ten Mile Point.
When they couldn’t find Poppie, the tiny dog’s family called in the local dog-finding experts, ROAM. The Greater Victoria non-profit, ‘Reuniting Owners with Animals Missing’ frequently uses the crowd-sourcing capabilities of Facebook to track down spooked critters – from missing ferrets and lizards on the lam to runaway budgies and stolen baby goats, ROAM’s blue and white logo spreads the message of missing or found critters around the area. Most commonly though, the organization helps reunite the region’s canines with their worried families.
But unknown to many is the hundreds of real-life volunteers behind the program – volunteers who jumped into action when alerted of Poppie’s disappearance.
The same day she went missing, more than a dozen ROAM volunteers helped Poppie’s family canvas the area. Within hours, signs were up and a picture of Poppie – the little terrier held lovingly in her owner’s arms, her head cocked to the side and her puppy dog eyes making contact with the camera – was plastered across the web with the words, ‘Finding Poppie’ scrolled above the ROAM logo.
At that point, the runaway terrier was nothing unusual for ROAM volunteers. But things were about to get crazier.
|Poppie was spotted on Flower Island, but the efforts of ROAM volunteers, which included cameras, traps and even the cooking of bacon – proved futile. Poppie made the swim back to shore and was eventually located in the Ten Mile Point - Cadboro Bay Area. (Facebook/ROAM)|
A tip came in that Poppie had been spotted on Flower Island – a small, remote, rocky island with a tiny grove of trees and thick underbrush, located a few kilometres from Gyro Beach and at least 50 feet from shore. The tipsters took their canoe out to the island to confirm that they had seen Poppie, and not a mink or weasel. They even helped Poppie’s owners get over to the island to see if they could coax her out but to no avail. When the wind picked up and the waters got rough, the search was temporarily called off.
The next day, using a boat supplied by a friend of the volunteer group, a trap was set and baited on Flower Island. Three live cameras were set from all angles. When Poppy was finally sighted on Flower Island, she was still too far in “fright and flight” mode to come to her calling owner. A number of ‘ping’ alerts gave hope to rescuers that Poppie had been caught in the trap, but it was only birds and minks.
The next day ROAM volunteers set up a bacon and sausage barbecue on the beach of Flower Island, hoping the scent would draw Poppie to them. Still nothing.
“We were worried about her trying to swim across and getting swept up by the current,” said ROAM admin Terry Mah. “That was the big concern.”
|ROAM created a map of Poppie's journey for the hundreds of invested followers, thrilled to hear of the tiny dog's safe capture. (Facebook/ROAM)|
But then volunteers got word that Poppie had again been spotted up near Arbutus Park.
“She swam there and then swam back, which is amazing,” Mah noted
It took a number of volunteers driving slowly through surrounding neighbourhoods before Poppie was finally spotted on the front porch of a home on Arbutus Street.
“When a dog gives up, a lot of the time they just go to a doorway and sit there,” Mah explained. “We just turned down Arbutus Road and probably four or five houses down … we spot her, we slam on the breaks and my wife gets out of the car.”
In a Facebook post, volunteer Barb said, “out of the corner of my eye, as we passed, I saw a teeny, tiny Yorkie sitting on the front porch behind some sneakers.”
Poppie looked left and then right and then tucked her head down in between her front legs as if to say, “I’m done with all of this. I’ve got nothing left.” I slowly walked up to her and got a hold of her harness and scooped her up in my arms. She was safe.”
Poppie had lost one pound, but was otherwise healthy, according to a vet’s evaluation.
“She was totally fine,” Mah said. “She’s not dehydrated, her paws were not scratched up … so she is safe and sound and back home with her twin sister and with her family.”