Hawking is a lively Pit Bull/Basenji mix with a beautiful brindle coat and big, goofy bat ears. He was born with two missing vertebrae and a condition that causes him to drag his hind legs. Because of this birth defect, Hawking was abandoned in a suburban Philadelphia alley when he was barely 8 weeks old. Fortunately, he was taken in by the local SPCA and he blossomed in a foster home. As it turned out, Hawking was destined to become the perfect dog for a local family with a disabled child...
Shortly before Christmas, the Burns family of Ardmore, Pennsylvania lost their beloved Boxer to a brain tumor. Cheri Burns discovered Hawking while searching for adoptable dogs on http://www.petfinder.com/ not long afterward. His disability caught her eye - in a good way.
"That sounds bizarre," she wrote in an email to Hawking's foster family, "but our youngest has a congenital defect... and she is our biggest fan of animals. No one really knows she has a 'disability' because she gives it her all, but [moves] a little slower than most."
Cheri was referring to her 4th grade daughter, Becca, who has a mild form of muscular dystrophy. Since Hawking faces similar mobility issues, Cheri decided that he would make a perfect match for 9 year old Becca.
On Christmas Eve the Burnses officially adopted Hawking, and he and Becca have been fast friends ever since. Together, they play endless rounds of fetch are building a reprotoire of tricks. As Hawking approaches his first birthday, his life is looking better than ever. He seems to have found a true kindred spirit in Becca, and she in him.
I love this story because it makes so much sense to me that special needs dogs be matched with disabled children. If anyone knows of a program which does this in an official capacity, please let me know!