The first time I met Storm was in October 2006, a couple of days after I had had to put my old faithful Rustie to sleep because of his age and ill-health. I knew that I would have to find a new dog, so I visited a couple of local kennels to see what I could find. When I went into the Deerness Kennels, near Durham City, I wandered around the concrete bunkers where the stray dogs were kept. The dog that caught my attention was lying at the back of his concrete-floored cage, not bounding to the front of the cage like all the other dogs, barking for my attention. He looked sharp and intelligent and very handsome; little did I realise until later that the look he gave me was one of fear! When I mentioned at the office that the only dog I was interested in was the dog called Storm, they said that Angie would have to have her say, since she was responsible for the dog.
I had never met Angie, but I eventually found out that she was Storm's saviour. The next day I returned to the Deerness Kennels and I was allowed to walk a short distance with Storm and a handler. Angie appeared whilst we were walking and after some consultation between the handler and Angie, she agreed that I would be a suitable person to take Storm home. (I had been looking after dogs for twenty-five years up to that point). Storm was then chipped and made over to me officially. Without any difficulty the handler walked him over to my LandRover and Storm jumped in as if he was used to that all his life. They told me they thought he was about eighteen months old.
That was the beginning of my troubles! Later, Angie told me what she knew about Storm's early life. She knew that the dog had been wandering around Bishop Auckland, a local town, for quite a long time, foraging for food and being chased by all and sundry. Then, during a severe thunderstorm, he was trapped in a shed in a back garden. Dog Wardens, fearing that he was savage, captured him by using a long pole with a noose, and then took him to the Kennels. He was found to be emaciated, flea-ridden, a badly suppurating wound on his leg and a broken bone in his chest which had healed in a way which left it sticking up in his flesh; the Kennel authorities were all for ending his miserable life, until Angie spoke up and said she would look after him. She had him washed, de-fleaed, she had the vet check his wounded leg, and she told me that she sat with him for hours in his cage, letting him get used to her, until very slowly he began to trust her. She called him Storm, because it was in a storm that he was brought in.
All this time she was praying that God would send someone who would have a quiet home and the patience to look after this very traumatised dog. Then I turned up! Angie certainly thought this was a divine answer to her prayers. When I got him home, he disappeared into the furthest corner of the back room in the house, and there he wanted to stay. I soon realised that he had never been in a home before, and since I had no secure area at that time in which to let him roam and do his business I had to cover the floor with plastic sheets and newspapers, and keep a bucket and mop handy. This went on for about six months, until a local metal worker completed a fence at the back of the house, to give Storm a place to roam. That was a difficult time, believe me!
I brought him to my house on a Thursday. I took him for a quick walk on Friday morning, and on the afternoon I decided to take him for a longer walk. As we walked down to the area here called the Desmesnes -very open grassland - he hugged the wall at the side of the road and was clearly terrified of everybody who came anywhere near. He was of course on the lead, and as we walked around the Desmesnes he suddenly backed away from me and and pulled the lead and collar off his head, And he was away! He was fast, and then some. He is a Saluki/greyhound. And the walk which should have taken about forty-five minutes lasted five hours, because he refused to come back to me. I was afraid that I had lost him on the very first walk which we had together. Several people tried to help to catch him, but it was only when he was practically exhausted (and me too!) that a lady-parishioner managed to talk him to come to her. We then both staggered back home for a rest.
Since that time he has gained a lot of self-confidence. He now sleeps beside my easy chair, and is happy in my house, though he has never once been upstairs and will only come and go through the back door of the house - he will not use the front door. He will not go into my car; so we can only walk from the house. I have realised that he is a 'ladies dog'; he will let a lady touch him, but he steers clear of men. He is very very handsome, and gets a lot of sympathy - I think that all the dog-people round here know his story. Whatever the first part of his life brought him, Storm knows that he now has a good life, with food and water laid on, with regular exercise and with friendship. He is a lucky dog!