One boy and his dog: How Owen Howkins was saved by three-legged Haatchi

Most dog owners will understand how positive and rewarding it can be to have a bond with your furry companion. But for Owen Howkins, this bond was nothing short of life-changing.

Owen, 7, suffers from Schwartz-Jampel syndrome, an extremely rare condition that leaves his muscles in a permanent state of tension. Before meeting Haatchi, Owen was nervous about leaving the house and scared of strangers, making life difficult for himself and his parents.

Haatchi, a three-legged Anatolian Shepherd, had been through a traumatic start to life himself, having been tied to a railway line and hit by a train before being left for dead.

Now the pair have been united, and the strong bond between them has allowed both Owen and Haatchi to begin enjoying their lives for the first time.

Owen’s stepmother Colleen Drummond said: “Owen used to be scared of strangers, but now he wants to talk to everyone about Haatchi and wants to go out all the time to dog shows. The difference we see in him can’t be put into words.”

“I feel really happy,” Owen explained. “He changed my life. I’m not scared of strangers now.”

Owen and Haatchi captured the heart of the nation when they won the Friends For Life competition at Crufts 2013. Since then, the pair have made guest appearances on ITV’s This Morning, had their story turned into a book and, more recently, had their bond captured in a 9 minutes short film, which has gained over 1 million views in one week.

To see the video, click on the link below:


Southampton dog owners warned over palm oil

Dog owners in Southampton have received a warning from authorities after palm oil washed up on Weston Shore.

Although not harmful to humans, palm oil can kill dogs and owners have been urged to keep pets on leads around the area for the foreseeable future.

The palm oil is currently being found in the form of white, chalky lumps, slightly smaller than a rugby ball, and gives off a sulphur smell.

Anyone who find any has been asked to either contact their local council or dispose of it safely.

Hampshire fire service advised: “Wear double vinyl gloves and place in a strong plastic bag over the substance and bag it up, place the outer gloves in with the oil, tie it off, then place into a second strong bag and also tie off.”

“This can be disposed of in ordinary refuse.”

Dog owners in Cornwall have also been told to look out for the palm oil, which is currently killing “a dog a day” along the county’s beaches.

The dog with ‘two’ noses finds a new home

A Belgian Shepherd who appears to have two noses has finally found a new home after being rejected by four potential owners at the Dog’s Trust Rehoming Centre in Uddingston, Glasgow.

Five-month-old Snuffles was born with a rare congenital defect which gives hime the appearance of having two noses. According to vet Angela McAllister, the problem is a defect in his palate which prevented his nostrils from being fused together, leaving them able to move independently.

After struggling to find Snuffles a home, the staff at the centre issued an appeal and, much to their surprise, they received 40 messages and 20 calls from people in the USA, South Africa and the UK.

Pamela Jackson from the Dogs Trust centre said that a number of families just “turned up” in the hope of adopting Snuffles, but the staff were determined to find the right home for him.

She said: “The eventual new owner took him for a walk to get to know him and they got on brilliantly. He said Snuffles was perfect and everything he was looking for.”

Centre manager Sandra Lawson added: “He may not have been blessed with the looks of Lassie but he has a heart of  gold and really can claim to be a dog in several million.”

Snuffles is set to begin his new life with a family from East Lothian next week.


Review: 3Peaks Rambler coat

This weekend we were lucky enough to visit the lovely Black Mountains in Wales, which offered us the perfect opportunity to give Lily’s 3Peaks Rambler coat a thorough testing.

Priced at around £12.00 to £15.00 depending on size, the Rambler certainly isn’t the most expensive coat on the market, and in our opinion it’s worth every penny.


The 3Peaks Rambler is advertised as being water resistant, wind resistant and breathable. Of course, it’s tricky for us to comment on the latter two, but we were able to test its resistance to water thanks to our water-loving spaniel.

Many spaniel owners will have the same problem – dog spots water, they’re straight in. But we were almost shocked by the level of water resistance demonstrated by the Rambler. Not only did it keep the rain off Lily’s back, but even after fully submerged for around 6 seconds the area covered by the coat remained bone dry.

But this water resistance doesn’t impact on the overall design – the coat was adjustable so wasn’t too tight around her stomach and it also features a soft fleecy underside, which I imagine is more comfortable than the exterior material alone when wet.

Aside from the water resistance, the coat also provides visibility strips, albeit thin ones, to make sure you can spot your furry friend, and its also machine washable so its easy to wash off a day’s walking.

All in all, the 3Peaks Rambler is a great buy and certainly an item we’d recommend to any dog owner with a water-loving canine!

Devoted dog owners fuel high street boom

Households across the UK are still struggling to beat the aftermath of the recession, but more and more dog owners are finding the money to splash out on their canine companions.

Despite general high street troubles there has been nearly a 10% increase in the number of pet shops open in the UK in the past two years. According to the Local Data Company, chains such as Pets at Home, Pets corner and PamPurred Pets have all expanded since 2012.

Analysts Euromonitor have also found that the amount spent on pet food and care products is up by 4%, while a number of high street supermarkets have expanded their pet ranges to fill the rapidly increasing demand from owners.

Dog services are benefitting from the latest pet boom, too, with daycare centres for dogs, walking services and dog bakeries opening up across the UK. Wannabe dog groomers are also enjoying the growth, with the number of people qualifying increasing by 75% over the past two years.

Head of pet care at Euromonitor, Paula Flores believes that many of the 9.5 million single-person households and 7.5 million couples without children are looking for pets as “replacements” for partners or children. She said: “More people treat their pets as a member of the family and are willing to give them nothing but the best.”


Dog reunited with owner after a night on a Lake District mountain


An owner has been reunited with his dog after he survived a 500ft fall on a Lake District mountain.

Bonnie the dog was left to endure a night of severe weather on Caudale Head after a whiteout caused owner to fall, leaving him unable to search for her.

Patterdale Mountain Rescue Team were called out to help the walker, who was left with only minor injuries after his 500ft drop, but the team had to wait until the following morning before they could begin searching for Bonnie.

The following day, five members of the team and Bonnie’s owner climbed back up the mountain and used snow shovels, avalanche transceivers and ice-axes to work their way through the snow.

A spokesperson from Patterdale MRT said: “After an hour of searching – and slipping and falling – the team spotted a dog sitting on a small rocky outcrop.

“Amazingly, the dog had survived the night, and with a bacon sandwich inside her and some dog treats she was able to walk down the steep mountainside to be reunited with her master.

“Patterdale mountain rescue team would like to remind those venturing into the fells that full on winter conditions exist on many high fell tops.”


Fire dog tested against technology

Fire dog Scrappy, the only hydro-carbon detection dog for the North East, has been put through his paces against the latest in detection technology.

Scrappy has been working to help obtain evidence at the sites of suspicious fires for five months by sniffing out flammable liquids at the scene.

Fully protected, Scrappy wears a harness and special boots, donated by a North East company, to make sure his paws and coat are kept away from the liquids and debris.

Teeside University are now comparing Scrappy’s skills to devices currently used by the fire service to detect hydro-carbons that may have been used to start fires.

Although the research is still in its early stages, the university has already found that the machine can’t trace chemicals after 8-10 days, while Scrappy can detect chemicals that have been left for far longer.

To keep up to date with Scrappy and his team, follow @ScrappyFireDog on Twitter.