A recent short documentary about a boy and his dog, both of whom have physical disabilities, is an Internet sensation! The little boy, Owen Howkins, suffers from Schwartz-Jampel syndrome, a genetic disorder which causes constant, permanent, and painful stiffness and tension in his muscles. The disorder requires him to use a wheelchair to get around, and he is acutely aware of his differences from other kids which, according to his stepmother Colleen Drummond, leaves him “practically agoraphobic.”
Fortunately for Owen, he has a best friend who is not another person, but an Anatolian Shepherd dog named Haatchi, who also has a disability. Haatchi has only three legs, a result of being struck by a train after being tied to the tracks as a puppy.
Drummond talks about their first meeting. “It was electric, spiritual, as corny as that sounds,” she says. “There was just like a communication that only they will understand. It’s like they both knew that each other were different and there was an instant acceptance of those differences.”
The connection between the boy and his dog has really helped boost Owen’s confidence, and with Haatchi by his side, the eight-year-old is coming out of his shell. Owen’s father Will describes the change. “It was something different for other people to look at as opposed to Owen. He was gaining confidence and talking to people about Haatchi as opposed to people staring at him—and he loved it.”
Owen adds, “I used to be scared of strangers before Haatchi came, and when he came, I wasn’t scared.” He adds that Haatchi, “does look after me. He’s special.”
The relationship between the two has been celebrated in a short film entitled A Boy and His Dog, which was created to raise awareness about the rare genetic disorder from which Owen suffers. It has now racked up more than two million views on YouTube, despite being nine minutes long.
Not only did Owen and Haatchi inspire the short documentary, they’ve appeared on local television programs—a major coup for a little boy who once was afraid to even leave his house. Now, there’s also a book about the extraordinary friendship between Owen and Haatchi. The book, entitled Haatchi and Little B, is every bit as inspiring as the documentary. Want to have a feel-good day? Watch the documentary! Anyone else out there with a special dog they’d like to publicly praise? We’d love to hear it!