Storm: A Puppy’s Journey of Hope
He did not have a name. Small, brown, too thin with a crooked tail, the puppy was lonely and scared. He quickly ran from one parked car to another, feeling safe only when hidden behind a tire.
The wind howled and the pelting rain blew sideways. He knew that something was terribly wrong. At four months of age, he was used to the calm, hot and sunny weather. The water on the street was rising and smelled of dirt and garbage. His belly hurt from hunger and he knew that he shouldn’t lap the filthy water even though his mouth was dry.
Hurricane Maria was smashing into his island home of Puerto Rico. Trees fell; street signs blew past; and in the distance, he could hear people crying in fear.
He had often befriended others like himself. They had no homes, no people to care for them. The Puerto Rican people called them Sato dogs. Sato dogs were unwanted, homeless and sickly. The people did not like them and a few would kick at them and call them ugly names. He was young yet had lived a hard life. He did not know the word, “love.”
The storm was one of the worst the island had experienced. It looked as if everything was broken… Houses were knocked over; the stores were in pieces and the roads were huge puddles of mud. He hid and shook. His wet body was chilly. He knew that if he slept he might die and so he stayed alert.
Two days later, the sun came out as Hurricane Maria travelled on. His fur began to dry and he ate the wet trash that was around him. The people looked frightened as they walked down the cracked roads in search of water and their friends. He was feverish and weak.
That afternoon as he tried to stand, he heard a kind voice. “Poor little one. You are barely alive. Come. Let me take you for food and water. Poor, poor thing. My name is Will.”
Will had been told by his father to not go near the Sato dogs. As a fifteen-year-old, however, he couldn’t stand seeing a puppy in such a horrible condition. Will knew he couldn’t bring the pup home, but he had an idea. “My neighbour, Mrs Sanchez, loves animals and has two dogs of her own,” Will told the pup.
He was so tired that he couldn’t growl or bite at this young man. People had been cruel and he didn’t trust them. He allowed the boy to pick him up and felt comforted by his gentle hands and his soothing words. As Will carried him, he let himself sleep. When he awoke, another kind person was saying, “Goodness, Will, this puppy is in bad shape. Because of the hurricane, the veterinarian doesn’t have electricity just like the rest of us. Let’s see what we can do for him.”
Will and Mrs Sanchez made a bed out of blankets, gave him a bowl of their precious water and Mrs Sanchez opened a can of dog food. He had never eaten real dog food and he gobbled it down in no time. Will took a clean cloth and began to wipe the mud off of his fur.
Mrs Sanchez stated, “Will, I’ve heard that some of these Sato dogs are being flown to Maryland where they receive medical care and are put up for adoption. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if this guy could have that chance? The island’s people need lots of help because of Hurricane Maria, so it could be weeks before the dogs are rescued. If you will help me every day, he can stay here until then.”
With a full belly and clean fur, he felt much better. To thank Will, he gently licked his hand. “I think he likes me,” Will said. What should we name him?”
“Hmm? How about Storm?” Mrs Sanchez answered with a smile.
For the next two weeks, Storm heard the Puerto Rican people busy at work as they repaired their homes, schools, churches and stores. Storm grew stronger each day but had a bad cough and a runny nose.
“When he gets to Maryland, Storm will be given medicine for his cold,” Mrs Sanchez explained. “I looked into it, and hopefully Storm will be taken next Thursday by the rescue organization. They have eighteen dogs now, just waiting.”
Thursday arrived. Will had tears in his eyes as he stroked Storm’s back one last time. Storm was frightened by the man who came for him and frightened by the carrier crate he was put in. Storm had gained some strength on his healthy diet and managed a small growl. The three people couldn’t help but laugh at this tiny one who was trying so hard to be a big, bad dog.
The plane’s noises were terrifying for Storm. He stayed calm by barking with the others and soon enough he was being carried off the plane to a waiting van. The sounds and smells were so different in Maryland. The man who had put Storm in the carrier sat with him and the others and talked. “Soon you will all see a veterinarian, get a lovely bath and have a great meal.”
Slowly, Storm was beginning to trust.
A year passed and Storm and another Sato dog named Samantha were safe and well cared for in their wonderful new home. The Flint family had adopted them and Storm and Sam were happy with their people.
Love was a word Storm came to understand as each night, young Patrick Flint would kiss him on his head and say, “I love you.”
The Puerto Rican people are working hard and are rebuilding their island lives.
“Storm came to stay
from an island that is far away.
Many people are kind and just.
From them, Storm learned to trust.
And given help to quickly mend,
He became a family’s dear, beloved friend.”