HUNDREDS of people queued up in Basingstoke’s Festival Place to meet an amazing little boy and his beloved dog.
Owen Howkins, known to his family as Little B, drew a big crowd at the shopping centre, where he spent three hours signing copies of his book, Haatchi and Little B – a story of the incredible bond between him and his three-legged Italian shepherd.
Eight-year-old Owen, from Basingstoke, has a rare genetic condition called Schwartz-Jampel syndrome, which causes his muscles to be permanently tensed.
Haatchi was adopted by Owen’s family and is credited with giving the little boy a new lease of life.
The book, released on February 13 by Transworld Digital, tells the harrowing story of how Haatchi was abandoned on a railway line and was hit by a train in January 2012.
Somehow, five-month-old Haatchi survived the blood loss from his partially severed leg and tail and managed to crawl to safety.
A Facebook appeal brought him to the attention of Colleen Drummond and Will Howkins – the stepmother and father of Owen, who welcomed Haatchi into their home just six weeks after he was almost killed.
Owen immediately fell in love with Haatchi and the book tells the inspiring story of how Owen’s life was changed forever by the incredible friendship with his dog.
The book was written by author Wendy Holden, who accompanied Owen and Haatchi at the signing at Waterstone’s, where Owen used a stamp to print Haatchi’s paw on the books.
Owen said: “It was really good. I was surprised by the number of people who turned up.”
Doreen Phillips, 47, from Popley, was first in line at last Saturday’s signing event. The mother-of-two said: “I have followed his story and I love animals. The story is amazing. It was great to meet them. We are really looking forward to reading the book.”
Owen’s dad Will said: “I was surprised by the number of people. There had got to be over 100. Owen really enjoyed doing the book. It involved spending six months with Wendy, and he loved every minute of it.”
He added: “The story is about Owen and Haatchi before they met each other and when we first got him and what’s happened since. It’s the interaction between them. They have a trust and loyalty.”
Wendy said it was an “absolute delight” working with Owen and Haatchi. She got in touch with the pair after Colleen contacted her on Facebook.
She added: “It’s this wonderful relationship between human beings and animals and how special that is.”