We are delighted to be continuing our rescue dog blog series with Jess and Poppy. Jess is the Wilder Schools and Communities Officer at Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, and Poppy is her wonderful dog. In this blog, Jess shares how Poppy joined her family, and how they enjoy the natural world together in a wildlife friendly way.

We had been looking for a dog to rehome for a while. Being a family with a pre-school age child, this was not an easy task, as many lovely rescue dogs prefer not to live with children.

We saw Poppy, a 10-year-old Labrador Staffie cross, on the Blue Cross website and decided to take a day trip to Suffolk to meet her.

The connection we felt when we met her was instant, and we returned the following weekend to take her home. Poppy settled in very quickly and her energy level matched our pace of life well. She loves our garden, the sofa and her cosy bed, and she was part of the family immediately.

Poppy, a senior black dog with a silvery muzzle stands in her living room.
Poppy (a black staffie labrador cross with a silver muzzle) stands on the grass and looks into the distance.

We love walking with Poppy in our local area and we have taken her on holiday with us to the Lake District, which we all really enjoyed.

We were already a very outdoorsy family, but I particularly love walking Poppy every day as it gives me an extra excuse to get out into nature.

I love the one-to-one time with Poppy in these moments and the head space it gives me. As Poppy is a calm dog, I get to see wildlife that I might not if I was out with my son.

Poppy has also helped me to slow down on a walk. She loves to stop and sniff a lot, and I’m happy to go at her pace and let it all happen around me.

Working on a nature reserve, I’m especially keen to make sure we walk Poppy in a responsible way, minimising our impact on the wildlife around us. I always pick up her poo, put it in a dog poo bin or take it home and dispose of it there.

At my work, Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, we ask all dog owners to keep their pets on leads during visits to Wildlife Trust Nature Reserves to protect the fragile wildlife which call these nature reserves home. You can find out more about this here.

Poppy, a black staffie labrador cross, stands in a woodland

I also walk Poppy on her lead if I’m in other natural environments where birds may be feeding, resting or nesting, as well as in places where livestock are nearby. This way, I know that she’s safe alongside me and we can enjoy our walk knowing that we won’t worry any wildlife or livestock.

We have been working on improving her re-call and she is now pretty reliable, unless there is a particularly amazing smell! So we save off-lead time for less sensitive places like our local park, where we can keep practising.

If you are also working on improving your dog’s recall, we have a handy step by step training guide that you may find helpful. Find it on our training tips page