Eight-year-old Carter Blanchard of Searcy, Arkansas, who has the skin condition vitiligo, says he’s now proud to be different after finally meeting a dog halfway across the country with the same disorder.
Carter was first diagnosed in kindergarten and lost confidence as white patches appeared around his eyes, according to ABC News.
“He was at a big school with a lot of kids, and his face was transforming very quickly,” his mother, Stephanie Adcock, told the network. “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.”
After struggling with children’s comments and laughter, reassurance came in the form of Rowdy, a 13-year-old purebred black Labrador retriever in Oregon who was diagnosed with vitiligo the very same year as Carter.
When his mom first discovered pictures of Rowdy on Facebook, she immediately shared them with her son.
“I read that Rowdy had vitiligo, and I was blown away,” she told in Portland. “When I showed Carter, he was so excited to see a dog that was famous for his vitiligo.”
Carter and his mom reached out to Rowdy’s owner, Niki Umbenhower of Canby, Ore., and developed a long-distance friendship.
That relationship grew closer this past week after KATU viewers generously donated money so that Carter and his mom could travel to Canby to meet Rowdy.
Carter’s mom is thrilled the two buddies could finally meet.
“It couldn’t be any other person that made him feel better. It had to be Rowdy. It had to be a dog,” she told .
And the feeling seemed to be mutual, Adcock said.
“When we walked in, I didn’t feel like we were walking in for the very first time. They were family already,” she told ABC News. “You could tell Rowdy knew something was going on and felt the energy of the room.”
Umbenhower told the network that Carter hugged and petted Rowdy for two hours that first meeting, “and they’ve been together ever since.”
However, Carter thinks his canine friend could use something.
“He needs some more [spots] on his back,” he told.
Sadly, Rowdy suffered a seizure this weekend and doctors say more tests are needed to determine the cause. As we pet owners know, this is never cheap, so a GoFundMe account has been set up to cover the therapy dog’s unexpected expenses.