Never let it be said that Poppy did not tell you exactly what she thought. She spoke loudly if she felt the need. She and I had a lot in common that way. We also shared the distinction of having lived by many names, having had many friends who chose to call us assorted things, mostly out of affection. Poppy started life as Claireese, which was shortened further to Reese, and then somehow morphed into Poppy. Whatever name she went by, she was a fabulous cat who lived a charmed life, and thankfully shared most of it with me.
Twenty years ago, on Clairendon Drive, hence the original name, a road in downtown Dallas between Zoo north, the old part of the zoo, and the new Wilds of Africa on the south side, my friends Heidi, Amy and I rescued Poppy from four neighborhood dogs who had cornered her in a tree. We were on our way to the hay barn riding this little John Deere four wheeler - meets dump truck - meets tractor thingy that we referred to as " the green machine." It was loud like a Harley might sound if it had a really loose, rattling tail pipe, and yet, Poppy was so glad to be saved that she curled up under my chin and purred the whole way to the hay barn and the whole way back across the zoo to the Okapi Barn where she hung out with me until I went home for the day. She was mine and I was hers from the very first moment.
There are a lot of things she will be remembered for, but I think she is most notable for her own personal red light district. She was a fetishist of sorts, finding herself fond of using the litter box in the middle of my bed, regardless of the fact that I kept trying to explain the whole little box concept and how there should be litter and a box involved. She preferred doing her business in a bed and soon had to be relegated to the outdoors to live on our screened front porch. That first winter, we worried that she would freeze, so I bought her a heat lamp and plugged it in over her favorite bed. It made our front porch glow red that could be seen for blocks. After several undercover cops made excuses to knock on our door and check things out, a friend opted to take the naive girls aside and explain what a red light district meant. After some shock and a bit of laughter, we decided we liked it, opted to leave it, and told friends to look for it when we threw parties. In fact, we because known for our " Parties in the Red Light District." Poppy didn't care what people thought, why should we?
Never caring to be dubbed a slacker, Poppy helped to train every one of my dogs and a few of their friends and neighborhood canines. She was a good, but fair trainer who actually grew quite fond of Rottweilers, in particular. Yet another things we had in common. After teaching Isabeau who was the boss of every situation, she used to curl up on the bed next to her stomach and sleep for hours. With Mercy, she had already been relegated permanently to the out doors for crimes against the new mattress, so sleeping together was out. Still, she enjoyed hanging out by the pool with her in the summer. She would often use Mercy's back as a bridge between the table and the chaise loungers, so she could climb on top of the sun bathers and lay across our wet bathing suits and purr. I never said she wasn't a little bit strange.
Dearest Poppy, you will be missed! I like to think of you upstairs by the fire in a big cushy green chair with buddies TJ, Isabella, and Opal all sleeping in a pile and Isabeau maybe curled up on the floor. Maybe Gramma is there, too. Who knows. Wherever you are, it was a pleasure to have shared my days with you, and I hope we meet again!