How starving dog became TV star
IN GREEK and Roman mythology, the poppy is seen as a symbol of resurrection after death. A symbol of new life, hope and fresh beginnings.
Poppy could not be a more fitting name for this brave Fijian native dog.
She has endured a colossal amount of suffering in her short life.
But thanks to a young Sunshine Coast girl with a passion for animals and the Bondi Vet television show team, she has the chance of a new life.
The first thing you notice about Poppy is her wagging tail and happy disposition. She gazes up at you with excitement and love.
Then you notice her missing nose and reconstructed jaw.
In her former life in Fiji, she was pig-hunting dog.
Her ears were brutally cut off with scissors when she was just a pup as is the custom with such working dogs.
Her job was to round up and corner wild pigs for her owner who would then swipe them with his machete.
But one day early last year, the owner missed the target and instead hit Poppy, cutting her nose and half her jaw clear off.
Her owner couldn't afford to drive her to the next town for treatment nor afford to pay the on-going vet bills and so she was left with her horrific injuries to fend for herself.
The Davies family from Peregian Springs runs the charity Fiji Living.
When they heard about Poppy's plight, their daughter India, 12, flew into action.
India's mother Tarn said India's passion for the animals of Fiji had started very young.
"When Mark and I learned of Poppy's story early in 2012, we thought carefully about making her aware as it was quite confronting for us as adults, let alone a then young 10-year-old," Tarn said.
When it comes to animals, India can't stand to see any creature in distress and she was determined to save Poppy.
She made up donation tins to hand out to local businesses, held garage sales where she sold her toys and got her friends on board to help out at bake sales.
She managed to raise 3500 Fijian dollars which the volunteers at Animals Fiji used to keep the young dog, believed to be three or four years old, alive.
The first time India and her sister Sienna, 9, met Poppy in Fiji ,it was a little confronting.
She was without her nose and severely malnourished.
But her spark and fighting spirit was already obvious.
"When I walked her, she was pulling me around the area and was pretty bossy," India said with a laugh.
Bondi Vet's Dr Chris Brown made an urgent trip to Fiji to bring the little pup back to Australia and in an incredible team effort, Poppy underwent major reconstructive surgery and multiple operations at the Small Animals Specialist Hospital to give her a fighting chance at a normal life.
Her story was first shown on the show early in Season 5 and viewers held their breath for news on the brave dog.
Social media sites were flooded with good wishes, and an overwhelming number of emails and calls were made by concerned viewers.
After more than 200 applications from viewers wanting to adopt Poppy, the Davies family was chosen as the best fit for the dog with the huge heart.
"Now we wouldn't be without her," Dad Mark said as he gazed down at Poppy laying at his feet.
"For what has happened to her, for her to be so friendly and trusting is just incredible.
"Jax (his youngest son, 4) runs around with a stick and plays pirates and she doesn't flinch or anything.
"She is just amazing. If that was a human, we wouldn't be able to move on. It would require years of therapy.
"She's just an incredible dog."
And from the moment the Davies family brought Poppy home ,she was at ease, and only a few behavioural problems needed to be addressed.
"When we were first taking her to the beach and she saw little dogs, she would get down low and go into stalking mode," Mark said.
"And you could feed her all day and she will just eat and eat and eat. I think that is her mind thinking 'this could be my last meal'."
Poppy melted the hearts of a local couple who run Barkers Food and they provide Poppy with healthy, nutritious meals for free.
Now the Davies family hopes Poppy can be an advocate for the animals of Fiji.
"The shelter is in desperate need of donations to maintain the cost of a full-time vet and Poppy's campaign will continue as an advocate for the animals of Fiji," Tarn said.
"This little dog has blessed us so much and we are so grateful for her story being one we can continue to share."
Poppy's story will air on Bondi Vet tonight on Ten at 7.30pm.
To donate to help the Davies family secure a full-time vet in Fiji, visit http://on.fb.me/184XVcA