Owen Mahan has been through more in his 10 years than most of us could endure in a lifetime. At the age of 2 he fell into a bath of scalding hot water and suffered burns over 98% of his body. He has undergone countless surgeries since, including the amputation of both legs earlier this year.
This past weekend, Owen flew from Indiana to Arizona to meet one of his online heroes.
“It made me really happy,” Owen told ABC News. “We both got our legs amputated.”
The brave young man is not refering to a wounded veteran or a disabled athlete, but rather a very special rescue pup named Chi Chi. The 3-year-old Golden Retriever was liberated from a South Korean dog meat farm after losing all four legs as a result of severe abuse.
Owen first learned about Chi Chi from one of his teachers who showed him and his adoptive mom, Susan Mahan, online videos of the happy-go-lucky pooch.
Chi Chi was adopted by Elizabeth Howell and her family last year and has since become a therapy dog with a massive online following.
“The never-give-up attitude that she brings to her life every day; she’s a great reminder of that for us,” Howell said. “And forgiveness because she’s forgiven and moved on and learned to trust people again.”
Chi Chi’s limbs were amputated after she was found abandoned in a dumpster with severely infected wounds. South Korean rescuers believe her injuries were caused when she was bound and suspended by her legs.
She was fitted with four prosthetic limbs and lives a full, happy life with the Howells.
Earlier this year, Elizabeth Howell learned of Owen’s story and that he was a fan of Chi Chi’s. She began coordinating with acquaintances of the Mahans to fly Owen and his mom out to Phoenix. NASCAR star Tony Stewart even offered his private plane for the trip!
“Owen is an amazing young man and has persevered and overcome challenges like Chi Chi has,” Howell said. “That really spoke to us and we wanted to do something special to celebrate him.”
Owen and Chi Chi’s fun-filled weekend together included a NASCAR event, an NHL game, swimming, games of fetch and whiffle ball, plus some quiet moments of cuddling and bonding.
Susan Mahan adopted Owen when he was 3-years-old. She began opening her heart and home to special needs children after raising her three biological children. She now fosters two young girls in addition to caring for Owen and his two adopted brothers.
In response to a request from Howell, Chi Chi’s many fans around the world donated every single item on Owen and his siblings’ Amazon Wish Lists.
“Every night I have a nice little cry of how nice and wonderful people are,” Mahan said. “There is a lot more good in the world than there is evil.”
She hopes that meeting Chi Chi will give Owen the strength of spirit he will need as he navigates the challenges of adolescence.
“I don’t think Owen realizes he looks different than anyone else just because in the community we live in he’s so accepted,” Mahan said. “But someday, someone is going to point that out to him, so him meeting Chi Chi and seeing how someone besides him got up and keeps going will help him a lot now and as he gets older. He’ll see how well accepted [Chi Chi] is all over the world.”
H/T to WBRZ 2
Featured Image via Facebook/Chi Chi Rescue Dog