Getting lost in a good book is one of my favorite ways to pass a quiet evening. Candles flickering and my dog Ivy Claire curling up next to me on the couch.

Without really noticing it, I’ll slowly become aware that she has inched her way closer and closer to me. She pushes at me with kangaroo-like legs, until I grant her more space. In the end, she has stretched out and hogged most of the sofa and will finally fall asleep, after she’s happily laid claim to three-quarters of the cushions.

I sometimes laugh when people ask me if I live alone. No. My wire hair fox terrier — Ivy Claire — lets me live with her. She’s in charge. She's always here. A devoted service dog in her own right. I have become extremely partial to the companionship of dogs.

If I am not reading, I do watch specials on Netflix via my laptop, and some (commercial-free) programs are quite delightful (and it is only $8 a month). But, I don’t get into the “social media” stuff, much. The Brits seem to have a corner on good programming. Their writers just seem to pay more attention, and it is from England that a wonderful story came, which I want to share with my gentle readers.

It is a heart-warming story about a boy, Owen Howkins, and his dog, Haatchi.

I fell in love with this pair — a brave boy and dog, both benefiting from friendship.

Owen was born with a genetic disorder called “Schwartz Jampel” syndrome, which causes his muscles and joints to seize up, giving this 12-year-old fellow a great deal of pain. He is very small for his age, and he looks like a miniature body-builder. Owen is not only strong, but he is wise. When it came time for Owen to get around in a wheelchair out in public, he found that he didn’t like to go out of the house. He thought people were laughing at him, so he’d keep his head down. His parents came up with an idea — they’d find a dog with disabilities, and let the two be friends.

Haatchie (Hat-chee), a large Anatolian Shepherd with adorable freckles sprinkled across his nose, was a dog down on his luck. First, he’d been abused and then tied to a railroad track in North London. When the train came along, it took off one leg and his tail. A good Samaritan found him bleeding profusely, and took him to an animal hospital, where he had a surgical amputation and learned to walk on three legs. Along came Owen’s parents, who adopted him and took him home. Owen happened to be lying down for a rest, and Haatchi walked through their house like he knew what his mission was — he found Owen, and put his giant head on Owen’s lap.

“Hello Haatchi,” the young boy said, and his life turned on a dime.

There was an immediate bonding between these two souls that had struggled alone, and now had a partner in life.

Owen understood that he had to take Haatchi for a walk, and he became more comfortable, because people would notice the three-legged dog; Owen would tell them all the story of his dog being tied to the railroad line, which would sometimes make the tender-hearted cry.

But they weren’t looking at Owen. So he became more confident, and began looking forward to their daily walks. The dog, on the other hand, began to wag his stump of a tail for the very first time.

It was clearly a match made in heaven.

Owen’s parents entered the pair in a local dog show under the companionship judging, and they won. Owen had never won anything, but now he was bursting with pride. They kept entering shows, and eventually qualified to compete in the Cruft’s Dog Show, which, as Owen liked to remind everyone, “is the largest dog show in all of the UK.” Again, they were the crowd favorite, and they went home with a big trophy, and Owen waved and thanked all of those who voted for them. Gone was the shy boy. “When you love a dog, you are in their soul forever,” he said.

Owen said his dog taught him to stay strong and never give up. Even though he is in considerable pain all the time, Owen says he has to “man up,” and remain strong for his dog. “Together, we will never give up. There’s nothing wrong with Haatchie. He’s just perfect.”

When Owen was asked during an interview what he would wish for if he could have one wish, instead of wishing to live without his disability, he responded that he’d wish that every living thing could be happy. A special boy and a special dog.

(Copyright © 2020 APG Media)

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