Dog helps boy overcome fear

Claudine Zap

Here's a tale of a hard-luck dog and a boy suffering from a rare condition that caused him to fear the outside world. And, spoiler alert: It has a happy ending for both.

The boy, Owen Howkins, suffers from a rare genetic condition, Schwartz-Jampel syndrome. According to the story in the Daily Mail, the disorder causes the seven-year-old's muscles to always be tense.

As Owen realized he was different from other kids his age, the Hampshire, England, resident became withdrawn and feared going outside.

Enter Haatchi. The dog's back story is also no walk in the park. The Anatolian shepherd suffered terrible injuries when he was tied to train tracks, hit by a train, and found days later with a mangled tail and back leg. The dog survived but lost his leg and tail.

The pup was taken in by Owen's family, after dad Will and his fiancee, Colleen, learned about Haatchi's tale on Facebook. Boy and dog bonded, and the puupy's love has given Owen a new outlook. Once shy and scared, the boy is now outgoing, taking Haatchi to dog shows.

The 15-month-old pooch recently completed his therapy dog training, and will be visiting war-veteran amputees and sick and terminally ill kids. Haatchi made such a difference to young Owen that the dog is being honored with the International Fund for Animal Welfare's Animal of the Year award.

Haatchi even has his own Facebook page. Not bad for a three-legged petand a brave boy.