So many families are being torn apart during this life-changing pandemic it’s especially hard to hear about children who have to live apart from the parents who are frontline workers.
These people go to work every day knowing their own lives are at risk, deal with extremely stressful situations and don’t have the comfort of knowing they are going home to hug their kids at the end of the day.
But for 13-year-old Owen Howkins the separation means he no longer gets to see his best friend every day – a giant three-legged Anatolian Shepherd Dog.
Haatchi, who is also missing his tail, was rescued from a life of abuse seven years ago by Owen’s family and developed an instant bond.
Owen, known to his friends and family as “Little B” was born with a rare muscular disorder that affects his breathing, and was a shy 6-year-old when Haatchi arrived in his home.
He had become self-conscious about using his walker to get to and from school and as a result was withdrawn; his family were worried about him.
But when Haatchi arrived the two soon became inseparable and filled each other’s lives with so much joy their story became a best-selling book “Haatchi and Little B” by Wendy Holden.
But when Owen’s father and stepmother made the decision that Owen should live full time with his mom 40 miles away at her house near Oxford, England, Haatchi could do nothing but stare out of the window waiting for his best friend’s return.
Owen’s stepmother is a frontline worker for the emergency services and so to protect the 13-year-old he is living with his mom so he can be completely isolated until the danger of this virus has passed.
The two have been separated for six weeks and during that time Haatchi has kept an anxious lookout for his best friend, confused as to why he is no longer with him, the Daily Mail reports.
“It was really hard saying goodbye to Haatchi,” Owen told the Daily Mail. “He’s my best friend in the world. I tell him everything and snuggle up with him each night because he’s so big and cuddly.
“When I’m with him nothing else matters. Now I can only see him on my iPad and it’s not the same. I can’t wait to cuddle him again and kiss his freckly nose.”
Owen was born with a rare genetic condition called SchwarztJampel Syndrome that affects fewer than 50 people in the world, the Daily Mail reports.
It causes his muscles to permanently tense leaving him in constant pain and unable to walk unaided.
“After consultations with his medical team, school and family, it was agreed that the best thing for him was to move out until it was safe for him to come home,” his dad Will told the Daily Mail.
“It was devastating to send him away but we knew in our hearts that this was unquestionably the right decision and, fortunately, he is now old enough to understand.”
Haatchi, who can’t go with Owen because his mom has another dog, had been hit over the head with a blunt instrument and tied to the tracks of a railway line in East London when he was rescued.
The two immediately understood each other and Haatchi, the gentle giant, gave Owen the confidence he needed. Today he is a determined young man who can’t wait to see his best friend again.
We’re all looking forward to the day these two can be reunited for the biggest hug. Sending strength and support to Owen and his faithful friend.