Owen and Stormy

  • Child's Name Owen
  • Dog’s Name Stormy
  • Type of Service
    Traditional / Mobility Service Dogs
  • Training Program
    New Hope Assistance Dogs
PA

The Dog Who Chose the Boy

     Owen Burrows was 13 years old when he was involved in a snowmobile collision. While riding, he was struck by a truck. The accident resulted in the amputation of his leg. Before his accident, Owen had expressed wanting a dog of his own. His mother, Sally Burrows, remembers not wanting another dog. “We had a Shih tzu and I didn’t want another dog.”

By the time Owen was 14, he had spent his fair share of time in the hospital. Owen’s first experience with a therapy animal was during one of his hospital stays, “They used to bring dogs in,” Sally said. “Like, therapy dogs into the hospital.” While Owen was not fond of the hairless therapy Chihuahua named Zeke, he still expressed his desire for his own dog. It wasn’t until Sally’s sister–Owen’s aunt–offered to help, that the family began researching mobility service dogs. “She was like, ‘I know this will be so good for him,’” Sally said. “She researched it for me because we were so busy.”

After Owen’s aunt shared research, the family took a trip to New Hope Assistance Dogs in Warren, Pennsylvania. Sally and Owen met dogs that were in the process of being trained. “They brought this dog in and were like, this is Stormy,” Sally said. “And we were like, well that’s weird.” Before his accident and in his free time, Owen had been caring for a 4H show cow named Stormy with the goal of entering competitions. Unfortunately, Owen was unable to do anything with the 4H cow.  “Then,” Sally continued, “he (Stormy) went over and got this folder from a table and put it on Owen’s lap.” The contents of the folder that Stormy retrieved included information about service dogs. “It was right then that Owen looked at me and I was like, ‘Oh my God!’” Sally said. “‘We’ll do whatever it takes for him to get this dog.’ And that’s what we did.”

The family went back home with a lot to think about. A big piece of research that they needed to conduct revolved around fundraising. Owen came across CDK at this point and applied for one of the organization’s scholarships while simultaneously organizing and hosting additional fundraisers in his hometown. “He did paint nights, corn hole tournaments,” Sally remembered. “He sold T-shirts. He did a lot, and the community was great. He wrote letters to local organizations and they donated money, too. The community really stepped up and was great.”

Owen and Stormy finished training in November 2016. Stormy, a black Lab, is now 5 years old and trained as a mobility service dog. When Owen first got Stormy, he did not yet have a prosthetic leg. Stormy helped him by retrieving different objects as well as opening doors. Owen, who is now 18, turns to Stormy at this point more for emotional support, as he has since been fitted for and has a prosthetic leg.

Sally is grateful for Stormy’s presence in her son’s life. “I feel like the dog gave him purpose when he didn’t really have one,” Sally said. “He was only 13 when this happened. He was only 13 and it was a big change in his life. You know, he lost friends and people didn’t come around anymore. Stormy really helped a lot.”

Stormy also inspires Owen’s hard work and determination, which his mom is appreciative of. “Owen’s a hard worker,” she said. “Owen figures out a way to do anything.” Owen has even figured out how to bring Stormy along on trail adventures, having built a wagon-like contraption for Stormy to ride in behind his four-wheeler. “He makes me want to do everything,” Owen said. “To get up and go.”

  • Abigail Davis

Abigail (Abi) is a Professional Communication and Journalism student at University of Maine, Presque Isle (2020)