Carter Blanchard of Searcy, Arkansas, has had a rough time of it. It’s not easy to be an 8-year-old boy with a skin condition that makes people stare — but Carter’s feeling much less alone since finding out about a Labrador retriever with the same disorder.
Vitiligo is a condition that destroys cells that make skin pigment. Carter’s diagnosis came in kindergarten, and he quickly lost self-esteem and confidence as white patches developed around his eyes — something that would be hard for anyone to deal with, but especially a young child.
“He was at a big school with a lot of kids, and his face was transforming very quickly,” his mother, Stephanie Adcock, said to KATU. What he told his mom broke our hearts: “The first thing he’d tell me when he got in the car is that he hated his face and hated the way he looked.”
Enter Rowdy, a 13-year-old dog in Oregon — who received his diagnosis of vitiligo the very same year as Carter. (Soul mates, we’re thinking.)
Carter’s mom first spotted the pictures of Rowdy on — you guessed it — Facebook. Her son was thrilled. “When I showed Carter, he was so excited to see a dog that was famous for his vitiligo.” The internet does good things, sometimes.
Carter and his mom sent a big hello to Rowdy’s owner, Niki Umbenhower, and from there, built a long-distance, interspecies friendship.
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And the best part? KATU viewers donated money so Carter and Stephanie could travel to Oregon to meet Rowdy.
“It couldn’t be any other person that made him feel better. It had to be Rowdy. It had to be a dog,” Carter’s mom said. “When we walked in, I didn’t feel like we were walking in for the very first time. They were family already. You could tell Rowdy knew something was going on and felt the energy of the room.”
We are fully on board for a Lifetime TV movie on these two. Carter apparently hugged and petted and doted on Rowdy for two hours that first meeting, “and they’ve been together ever since.”
FYI: Carter thinks Rowdy needs more spots on his back.
On a sad note, Rowdy had a seizure this weekend and vets say tests are needed to find the root cause. There’s a GoFundMe page to help Rowdy get the care he needs.
We’re rooting for these two long-distance buddies for sure.