CANBY, OR (WPVI) -- An 8-year-old with a rare skin condition has a new best friend, a dog with the same condition.
Carter Blanchard and Rowdy are connected through their spots.
Rowdy, a Labrador retriever, was born with all black fur. Three years ago, his owners noticed white spots throughout his body.
"Around the age of 11, he started to get just a little white. I didn't think anything of it, I just thought he was getting old," Rowdy's owner Niki Umbenhower told KATU-TV.
It turned out they aren't just cute spots. Rowdy has a rare skin disorder called Vitiligo.
"The skin will develop a patch of pink or white, but it will lighten the skin in that area," Umbenhower said.
More than 2,000 miles away in Arkansas, Carter was diagnosed with the same condition.
"Carter was diagnosed and got Vitiligo the exact same month and year that Rowdy did," Carter's mom Stephanie Adcock said.
She said her son struggled on a daily basis with every new spot that appeared on his face.
For the last year Carter and Rowdy only knew each other digitally, but Rowdy taught Carter to love his skin despite vitiligo.
Stephanie says Carter gained the confidence she always wanted him to have.
"Really, it was life changing for him. It changed his childhood for the better, it was a gift I couldn't give him," Stephanie said.
Now seeing her confident boy doing flips, stopping just long enough to pet Rowdy in the living room of her new-found friend, she says even his darkest days were worth it.
"It couldn't be any other person that made him feel better. It had to be Rowdy, it had to be a dog," Stephanie said.
It was a long-awaited moment for Rowdy and his owner, Niki Umbenhower, too.
"I have goosebumps when I think about the moment they walked through the door. I'm getting emotional, it's amazing," Niki said.
As for Carter, he loves his four-legged friend, but says Rowdy needs more spots.
"He needs some more on his back," Carter said.
KATU reports that on Sunday, Rowdy suffered from a seizure. Doctors say he needs more medical tests to determine what's wrong. If you would like to help Rowdy, a GoFundMe has been set up.
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