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Beloved rescue dog who helped disabled teen dies of cancer

Owen Howkins with Haatchi
Owen Howkins with Haatchi Image credit: bbc.co.uk

A teenager with a rare genetic condition has paid tribute to his rescue dog after his four-legged friend passed away.

Owen Howkins, 15, from Basingstoke gained his confidence through his Anatolian shepherd, Haatchi.

The stray dog was taken in by the family after being found tied to a railway line and hit by a train which resulted in having one of its legs amputated.

Owen, who has Schwartz-Jampel syndrome, previously said: "I used to be scared of strangers, then Haatchi came along and now I'm not and that's how he changed my life.

"I didn't really meet many others with disabilities and felt like the odd one out, which made me really sad.

"But when I saw Haatchi and saw how strong he was, even though he only had three legs, I became stronger myself. I love him so much."

Nine-year-old Haatchi died of cancer with Owen by his side.

Following the death Owen’s dad, Will Howkins, said: "The changes were amazing when we first got Haatchi; Owen went back to his bubbly self and it was lovely to see.

"But going on from there the online presence and media has benefitted other people.

"Over the last eight years we know of five people who have been correctly diagnosed with the same condition as Owen because they have seen him and Haatchi's Facebook page.

"We are constantly getting messages about the impact it has had on peoples' lives, and that is more important than what he has done for us."

Haatchi earned first place in Crufts' Friends for Life category in 2013.