Kasper is a rescue dog and came from the Darlington Dogs' Trust.  We picked him up on Valentine's Day, 2006, when he was just six months old.  He was a bit of a nervous wreck and after a few weeks of sleepless nights we were seriously considering whether we were equal to the challenge of helping him settle into his new home.

He did eventually settle down though and I'll never forget just how rewarding it was to gradually gain his trust and friendship. 

The first time I let him off the lead was a worrying occasion - he's a lurcher cross - we'd done our homework and we knew that this breed can put on a decent burst of speed.  I took Kasper the full length of the beach at Roker, right up to Whitburn.  He was desperate to run with the other dogs but I held firm.  Once we reached the very end of the beach, I held my breath and felt my stomach flip as I released the clip on his collar.  He had only been with us for three weeks...  Would he come back, or would he just be a dog-shaped dot on the horizon?!

He belted forward and literally seemed to jump for joy - more like a springer than a lurcher, he launched himself into the air, twisting his body around and relishing his freedom.  As he got further and further away from me, I don't mind telling you that my heart was in my mouth, but I genuinely believed that I had to trust him, the way he had begun to trust us.

Well, he did come back after a five minute explosion of pent up energy, and we've never looked back.  He still has his quirks, as do all dogs.  He dislikes people in baseball caps with a surprising intensity; he still can't resist chasing pheasants but is utterly disinterested in hens, pigeons or anything else with feathers and he still hasn't quite got used to the idea that sofas are only for humans.  As he gets older (he's six now) we tend to pander to him a little more.  Even when it's obvious by his guilty look that he's been sitting on my wife's best cushions on the sofa, I pretend I haven't noticed.

He would be happy to be out and about all day every day, and I do take him with me on business up to Scotland where I occasionally have a job which involves a few weeks of intensive mountain climbing, taking photos for wind-farm companies.  Kasper always amazes me with his boundless energy, bounding through the heather for eight hours a day, seven days a week.

And that's Kasper's story...  So far!