A white German Shepherd puppy born without a paw has now found a new friend who understands his struggle — a girl born without feet.
On Monday, the nine-week-old puppy, named Lt. Dan, was given to three-year-old Sapphyre Johnson from Tennessee. “He’s just like me!”, was the young girl’s joyous reaction the first time she ever saw a picture of the puppy.
Lt. Dan’s original owner, the dog breeder Karen Riddle, explained that the puppy, who was born with eight siblings in a litter, was almost euthanized.
According to Greenville Online, the German Shepherd puppy was named after a character in the film Forest Gump who also lost both of his legs.
Despite the breeder’s initial impulse to have the dog euthanized, Riddle decided to try and find him a home for someone with special needs.
As her father was a Shriner, Riddle called Shriners Hospital to check if there was a special-needs child or a wounded veteran who might want a puppy in their home.
And Sapphyre has been in the hospital since she was just three-months-old.
Sapphyre’s mother, Ashley Johnson, said:
When I was seven months pregnant, they did an ultra sound and told us she may be missing some fingers and toes.
They don’t know what caused it.
Shriners provides prosthetics and orthopedic services to children under the age of 18, regardless of what their family’s income is.
She had just two really long toes on each foot. And when she was one, we had them amputated so she could be fitted for prosthetics.
Shriners even offered to make a prosthetic leg for the puppy when he grows big enough.
When Sapphyre saw a picture of Lt. Dan, she felt an immediate connection and knew she had to have him. Elaine Hardin who works at Shriners, recalled the scene:
The first time I showed her a picture of the dog, she looked at it for a moment, and she said, “That’s my puppy. He’s just like me.”
He’s a special dog and he’s going to a special child.
Hardin told Greenville Online that Lt. Dan will help the girl make friends and explain her disability to other children. She said:
In the future, I could see Sapphyre at her first show-and-tell in school and she could bring in her dog and explain about her dog and herself.
Everybody loves dogs and they’ll want to know about her dog that’s special like her.
On Monday, the girl was beyond herself with joy at having her new puppy. “Lt. Dan, Lt. Dan”, she kept calling out to her new canine pal.
For his part, Lt. Dan felt completely at home with his new human family and fell asleep in the car as they all drove home to Tennessee.
Source: Greenville Online.
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