The Adventures of Poppy the Puppy


It all began over a week ago, quite late, as my colleague Dale was going in or out of his apartment building in Pluit, North Jakarta, when he noticed something small, moving around in the parking area.

Surprisingly, he didn’t dismiss it as a rat, for they are numerous and hefty, nor a cat, ditto, but recognised it as a tiny specimen of man’s best friend. As befits the millenia-old bond between the two species, Dale went across and picked it up.

We’re not sure what it will grow into, but best bet is a Rottweiler or Alsatian (German Shepherd to North Americans) – whatever, as you can see, she is a wee beauty. How she came to be there is a mystery still. Maybe jumped out someone’s car, or, unbelievably, was abandoned.

 Anyway – again – Dale lifted her up and took her home.

As he has nobody indoors while he’s at work, he brought Eve – that’s his name for his adopted dog, but I prefer Poppy, which is a popular Indonesian girl’s name, and also catchier and easier for the canine to hear; time will tell – into work each day, where she instantly became the object of general adulation. Well, of course!

Poppy’s energy and character won everyone’s heart and we eagerly awaited Dale’s arrival at work, all trivial issues like lesson plans, salary disputes etc. shoved to one side while we took it in turns to play with our pup.

A week passed, and Dale was riding home last Sunday with Poppy/Eve in his bag, slung over his shoulder as was his wont.

Bikers Taking Their Chances in Jakarta

Many of my friends ride bikes here, but I don’t know of any one of them who HASN’T had an accident, several quite serious. Drivers of both motor-cars and motor-bikes here are largely deranged, and given the traffic conditions, it’s better, in my view, to sit or even stand safely on a bus.

No need for the details, but he had just reached the junction outside Seasons City Mall, way up in North Jakarta, when somehow he came off the bike and broke his collar-bone. The satchel went flying, and Poppy flew out of it.

While passers-by ran to help the human casualty, the animal was over-looked. My guess would be she simply pelted in terror for some place of safety, anywhere but the busy road, and I doubt the rescuers even were aware of her existence. When Dale was stood up, he made to search, but there was no sign of her and he was hardly in any state to pursue the fugitive.

Thus it was a gloomy staff-room on Monday. We’d been pottering about, killing time till Poppy arrived, and when Dale walked in with a sling and no dog, the disappointment and anxiety were palpable.

Apprised of what had occurred, no other topic was tolerated until a plan of action had been devised – make posters, offering a reward, and stick them on anything that would hold them, in the vicinity of the crash.

This having been done, a reward of Rp.200,000 agreed, all we could do was wait…and hope and pray, I’m sure.

And sure enough, within the day, the Tuesday, when the word was posted, calls came in. The reward, twenty bucks, more or less, may seem small beer to you, but to your average Indonesian it is a tidy sum.

One of the calls, from a female named Ravina, made no sense – not unusual here – but the other came from a woman called Indah, who claimed she had a pup that matched the photo on the poster. She was wary and wily, trying to get Dale’s (Indonesian) girl-friend, Marissa, to come to the kampung where she said she lived.

This could of course be the normal reluctance of such folk to leave the familiar confines of their neighbourhood, but equally, it might be more, a scheme to rip our Marissa off, seize the promised cash, maybe have no pup at all, and possibly take more, by force. Robbery is not unknown in present-day Jakarta.

No, we stayed adamant the meet take place in the mall. And since Dale, normally a handy lad, was still not fit, I volunteered to go along as ‘back-up!’

So there we sat, in the A and W, partaking of morning coffee and wondering if the caller(s) would show. By now, we’d worked out that both callers were linked, one as a go-between, for obscure reasons, the other being in actual possession – we hoped – of a dog, which we hoped was the dog we sought to reclaim.

The agreed time was 10am, last Wednesday, and when, with typical Jakarta punctuality, at 10.20, two hefty people entered, bearing pup, we darned near cheered.

The women, or rather girls, were about twenty something, but to my personal chagrin, were not the nifty nymphs one sees all over Jakarta. Subsequently, we agreed they were probably of the ‘cheerful’ variety of womanhood. Whatever, they gave us a small furry thing which we instantly recognised, though our poor wee pup was not the lively bundle she’d been before.

Poppy was in shock, I suppose, natural enough. Had I been hurled out of a bag onto a busy road, attacked by a cat or rat (judging from the scratches on her head) and had to fend for myself till somebody noticed my plight, at the age of TWO MONTHS – well, I’d have been truly traumatised myself, I reckon. 

She was made much of, but accepted our attentions listlessly, and when the sturdy wenches had departed with their prize money (with subsequent texted reproaches that they should BOTH have got 200 K !), she slept on my lap most of the taxi journey back through the city.

Back at school, Poppy was seen to be wobbly, so a vet was summoned, the diagnosis being she may have a dislocated hind leg, and, as already noted, in residual shock, so she’s gone home with another colleague. Pablo has a great big garden, three grown-up dogs, and a wife and a maid, at least one of whom will be there all day to mind the patient.

We are all delighted she’s back, are insisting on regular reports on her progress, and – perhaps – some of us will ride their bikes more attentively in future.