A little boy has learnt it’s ok to be different after finding a friend in a dog who looks just like him.
Eight-year-old Carter Blanchard suffers from vitiligo – a long-term condition caused by a lack of melanin, a pigment in the skin.
As a result Carter has white patches around his eyes and until recently suffered from a lack of confidence.
However, the little boy from Arkansas is now embracing his unique look after buddying up with a black Labrador called Rowdy – who has the same distinctive white patches around his eyes.
The 14-year-old dog, from Oregon, also suffers from vitiligo and was diagnosed with the condition in 2014 – the same year as Carter.
The pair first connected after Cater’s mum, Stephanie Adcock, reached out to Rowdy’s owner, Niki Umbenhower, after seeing pictures of the dog online.
They built a long-distance relationship but only met for the first time on Saturday (March 18) after donations from the public funded the trip.
Niki, 48, said: “In all honesty, it was as if they had known each other forever.
“Carter walked right in, took off his jacket and just knelt down and started petting him.
“He was on the floor playing and Rowdy just kept walking around him and laying down by him and he even was barking and hoping around because of all the energy and excitement in the air.
“Stephanie always shows Carter stuff I’ve posted online. I do some stuff on all his social media sites and he see’s it then makes comments and Stephanie will email or text me what he said. We do face time as well.
“Because of how close we have grown over the miles, when they walked through the door it honestly felt like they had met a million times over.
“This story has been an incredible journey. At first it started with people seeing Rowdy in person and stopping us on the street and asking questions and if they could take a picture with him.
“Then when he aired on the news because I submitted a photo to the local station, he went pretty viral at that point – all over the world.
“His Instagram that had about 200 followers started blowing up and before I knew it he had 5000 followers.
“Then as time went on and I kept posting photos on his social media, he started to snowball with followers and generating more interest.
“But when it all changed for me and I had that “ah ha” moment as to what I could do with this unique creature of mine, was when a mother from Searcy Arkansas reached out to me and shared her story about how my dog was changing the way her son was looking at his own skin changing due to vitiligo.
“I wanted to do whatever I could to continue helping Carter see himself like people saw Rowdy.
“So I would post a photo his mom would send me along side a photo of Rowdy and put an inspirational quote or congrats for getting straight A’s or something of that nature.
“We’ve helped that little boy do a 180 in the way he views his skin and we want to do that for as many kids and people as we possibly can.”