When 7-year-old Owen Howkins of England met the three-legged Anatolian Shepard named Haatchi, he had no idea just how important this dog would become.
Owen suffers from a rare disorder called Schwartz Jampel Syndrome that leaves his muscles in a constant state of tension, which not only causes him pain but also affects his balance.
The condition made him scared to talk to people, but that changed when Haatchi came into the picture.
"There was an immediate bond," Colleen Drummond, Owen's stepmom, says in a documentary video by student filmmakers from the University of Hertfordshire in England. "It's like they both knew that each other were different, and there was an instant acceptance of those differences."
The RSPCA, an animal welfare organization in the United Kingdom, rescued Haatchi, who had been tied to train tracks in North London. Because Haatchi had been hit by a train, doctors had to amputate both his leg and tail.
While the RSPCA placed him with one family, it wasn't until he met Owen that Haatchi seemed truly at home.
When Haatchi's tail stump wagged for the first time, Drummond says, "I knew then that Haatchi had chosen us."
"He does look after me," Owen says about Haatchi in the video. "And he's special."
Now going out and seeing strangers is a lot less stressful for Owen, says his dad, Will. Whereas before the attention was focused on Owen and his wheelchair, now the focus is on his three-legged dog and the story of how Haatchi became part of the family.
"He just loved the attention he was getting, in a good way," Will says. "The confidence in Owen has just grown and grown throughout the last year."
Owen agrees: "He changed my life to not be scared of strangers now."