8 Year Old Hampshire Boy To Host Book Signing
Schwartz Jampel Syndrome sufferer Owen Howkins is the star of a new book after he had his life transformed by a dog.
We've all heard that a dog is man's best friend but it turns out it's a boy's best friend as well.
He is one of only 100 or so worldwide sufferers of the rare disease Scwhartz Jampel Syndrome which is characterised by abnormalities of the skeletal muscles, including muscle weakness and stiffness.
It had had a profound effect on how Owen interacted with the outside world, often unwilling to go out of the house so as to avoid the prying eye of the public gaze that would accompany his every move.
But after his family rescued a dog from a railway track Owen's life changed for the better.
His dad Will Howkins says the change was instantaneous:
"Within about 2 or 3 weeks of getting Haatchi he was actually actively trying to drag me out of the house to take Haatchi for a walk because 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."
For Owen it represented not only a reason to leave the house but also the start of a wonderful friendship:
"He's very important to me and the best dog I've ever had. He's made my life better because I used to be scared of strangers and now I'm not."
The tale of the 2 chums was put to print by bestselling author Wendy Holden who was so moved by the story she wanted to help.
The book, 'Haatchi and little B,' is going on sale on the 13th of February but Owen and family will be at Waterstones in Festival Place on the 15th to host a book signing.
Our reporter James Hoxey caught up with Will Howkins: