Even though Carter Blanchard and Rowdy the dog live halfway across the country, these two have something in common: they both have Vitiligo.
Vitiligo is a skin disorder that destroys cells responsible for making the skin's pigment. Carter was first diagnosed with this condition in kindergarten when white patches appeared around his eyes, and since then, the 8-year-old has struggled with his confidence.
"He was at a big school with a lot of kids, and his face was transforming very quickly," his mom, Stephanie Adcock, told ABC News. "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."
Rowdy was diagnosed with vitiligo the same year as Carter and the 13-year-old purebred black Labrador retriever also has a loss of pigment around his eyes. Although Rowdy lives in Oregon, Stephanie saw photos of him on Facebook and shared the adorable images with Carter, who lives in Arkansas.
"I read that Rowdy had vitiligo, and I was blown away," she told KATU. "When I showed Carter, he was so excited to see a dog that was famous for his vitiligo."
Stephanie reached out to Rowdy's owner and a long-distance friendship quickly bloomed. The pair were finally able to meet in person thanks to donations from KATU viewers and after hugs and hours of petting, "they've been together ever since." Stephanie told KATU: "It couldn't be any other person that made him feel better. It had to be Rowdy. It had to be a dog."
Rowdy suffered a seizure shortly after his and Carter's heartwarming meeting. As he undergoes tests, strangers are donating money towards his medical expenses while Carter's family cherishes their unexpected connection. "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."