A DOG lover from Bewdley has released a children's book about her Instagram-famous golden retriever Poppy as she finds herself lost in West Midland Safari Park.

Inspired by visits to the safari park with her children, Gillian Young has self-published her first book Poppy on Safari, which is now on sale at local book shops and Waterstones.

Gillian originally wrote the story 14 years ago when her own children were little, but decided to share the tale with the world following a battle with cancer.

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The 48-year-old mum-of-two told The Shuttle: "I've always loved writing stories and my son loved Beatrix Potter. I used to read him Peter Rabbit and Benjamin Bunny all the time.

"I started thinking I'd love to write stories like this. I love animals, especially dogs, so that's how I started writing and doing my own illustrations.

"The original story was about my old dog Willow, a border collie. I used to take the children to the safari park quite often and one day I noticed they had dog kennels and it got me thinking about what would happen if one got out.

"I never seriously thought about writing a book. It was just a dream at that point - it was just something I enjoyed doing."

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As Gillian's children grew older her dream of publishing the book faded away - until a shock diagnosis four years ago caused her to re-evaluate her career.

"I was diagnosed with cancer and I was very seriously ill, which led to me having to quit my job," said Gillian.

"When I came out of hospital Poppy really helped me. She perked me up and lifted my spirits, she put a smile on my face even on the darkest days.

"I was watching her lollop around the garden one day and thought she would be the perfect star for a story. She's so full of character.

"I decided to pursue a career that I really loved and went back to my old story and started to rehash it."

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Since then, an Instagram page called Crazy Cream Retriever, set up for Poppy by Gillian's daughter Becky, has reached more than 12,000 followers.

Poppy on Safari features Gillian's own illustrations of Poppy, and of photographs from family days out at West Midland Safari Park.

The book sees the greedy but loveable pooch escape from the safari park kennels and embark on a quest to find her family, while also solving the mystery of the King of the Safari Park.

Aimed at children aged six to nine, Poppy on Safari is available to buy at Wyre Forest Books in Bewdley, at Castle Books in Ludlow, on Amazon and online at Waterstones.