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haatchi & little b: The Inspiring True Story of One Boy and His Dog    by Wendy Holden order for
haatchi & little b
by Wendy Holden
Order:  USA  Can
Picador, 2015 (2015)
Hardcover, Softcover, CD
* *   Reviewed by Rheta Van Winkle

In early January, 2012, a rail line manager in the London area found a large young Anatolian Shepherd dog on the train tracks. The dog's tail and one of its rear legs had been severed by a passing train, and the man called the RSPCA to help him take the dog off the tracks and see whether its life could be saved. The dog was quite young and an expensive breed, but they made the effort to get help for him because he had such a sweet nature, not acting threatening at all even though he must have been in extreme pain. The dog was treated by veterinarians, survived, and given the name Haatchi, but because he was such a large dog, there was a concern that he would not be able to get around on just three legs.

Meanwhile, Owen Howkins, who had been born with a rare genetic condition that caused his muscles to tighten so much that his bones were damaged, was having more trouble as he grew out of infancy and toddler hood. Walking was difficult and painful for him, and he began to have problems with his eyes and breathing. His father Will and his fiancée Colleen were concerned about Owen, who was given the nickname little buddy, which was quickly shortened to Little B. When he became old enough to attend school, he became self-conscious about his physical deformities and his need to use a wheelchair whenever he was outside. He was so afraid that people were looking at him that he no longer even wanted to leave the house. Since he had been such a happy little boy in spite of all his health problems, they were worried about his newfound shyness.

Colleen and Will already had a dog and one day when Colleen was looking online for a canine companion for their dog, she saw a picture of Haatchi and immediately fell in love with him. They were allowed to adopt this dog because of her experience training dogs and because of Little B. Haatchi and Little B quickly bonded and the dog had a good influence on this child.

I found the story of Haatchi's rescue and recovery and of Owen's illness and treatment interesting and engaging. Haatchi and Owen became so close, and having this big dog helped Little B regain his confidence. The book did seem to get off track for me when it turned to the many awards won by the two and the celebrities they met. Also, I didn't care for the cute Facebook posts and pretend doggy language. All in all, though, it is an absorbing story about the bravery of these two in dealing with tremendous difficulties.

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