8-year-old Carter Blanchard of Arkansas has a new friend and a new comfort in his own skin thanks to one very special black Labrador from across the country.
Carter and White Eyed Rowdy, the black lab in question, have developed a heartwarming bond over the rare skin condition they share: both have vitiligo, an autoimmune disease that results in a loss of pigment in patches of the skin. The pair recently met for the first time in person after only seeing each other over the internet for the past year, reports WGN, after an anonymous local news viewer saw a story on the duo and donated $5,000 to make sure they could meet face to face — something Carter’s mother, Stephanie Adcock, said helped to fill her son with the confidence she always wanted him to possess. “Really, it was life-changing for him,” she explained. “It changed his childhood for the better. It was a gift I couldn’t give him.”
When Carter was first diagnosed with vitiligo in the middle of his kindergarten year, “he was really struggling with the transition on a personal level,” she told InsideEdition. “The kids weren’t being mean or vindictive, but they were saying what they observed and that was starting to bother him.” At one point, Carter stopped wanting to go to school at all because “I thought people would laugh, and tease me.”
But after some one-on-one time with Rowdy, everything’s changed. “He’s done a complete 180,” his mom explained. “We’ve come full circle. He’s proud of himself. He thinks we have boring skin because we don’t get to have vitiligo.”
Rowdy’s owner, Niki Umbenhower, was equally moved by witnessing the meeting. “I have goosebumps when I think about the moment they walked through the door,” she told KATU reporters. “I’m actually tearing up. It’s amazing.”
And Carter himself clearly found meeting a doggy-doppelganger to be amazing as well, joking that while the pups spots were fantastic, “he needs some more on his back.”
“It couldn’t be any other person that made him feel better,” his mom added. “It had to be Rowdy, it had to be a dog.”
But now it’s this very special dog that’s in need of help. The 14-year-old dog recently suffered a surprise seizure, and his owner, Umbenhower, has started a GoFundMe page to help support his recovery — not that any of that has stopped Rowdy from continuing to do what he does best: cheer up children.
Once Rowdy is feeling better, can someone please introduce both him and Carter to the amazing young woman who turns her vitiligo into art? Something tells us they’d be fast friends.
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