From Shy to Rowdy: How an Old Dog with New Tricks Changed a Young Boy’s Life

Little Carter was a normal boy growing up in a normal suburban home in Searcy, Arkansas. That is, until one day his life took a turn in a new and unexpected direction.

In August 2014, little white splotches began spreading across his face in a kind of curious reverse-freckle effect. First, a few dots here and there, next they formed clusters, and soon this little champ found himself with a rare skin condition known as vitiligo.

To a fun-loving boy just starting out in school, it was a shock. And not the kind that any mom would wish on her kid just starting out in life. Stephanie, Carter’s mom, put it this way: “There have been so many days where I would pick [him] up from school and the first thing he would say is ‘Mom, I hate my face. I’m tired of people talking about my skin.’ As his mother, it broke my heart.”

Life doesn’t always go to plan—and sometimes, that’s just what we need. Just when it seemed there was no hope for Carter and his incurable disease, Stephanie found the answer in her Facebook news feed. On a day that would change their lives forever, she clicked on a picture of a beautiful black Labrador with—curiously—the same white markings on his face as Carter.

An unbelievable path of discovery unfolded before them. The jet-black purebred (known to the world as Rowdy) already had his own website, Facebook and Instagram following, his own YouTube channel and Twitter account!

A post shared by White Eyed Rowdy (@white_eyed_rowdy) on May 28, 2017 at 12:09am PDT

Our 13-year-old four-legged furry friend was making it big online—and on the streets of his local Oregon. Owner Niki said of his curious white spots, “He’s like our own little celebrity around town. Everybody loves to stop us.”

Both dog lovers, Carter and Stephanie naturally reached out to her. They bonded online and soon discovered that the old boy had come down with vitiligo around the exact same time as Carter—in August 2014. This in itself could have been enough of a shock to break the isolation of being the odd one in the schoolyard. But what happened next just kept getting bigger and better.

In an Upworthy video of Rowdy which went viral, Carter’s picture cameo was also seen over a million times on Facebook. “When I showed [him] the video, he broke out in the BIGGEST smile. ‘Me and Rowdy are famous!’ he said. For the first time in 2 years, [my son] was PROUD of himself and his vitiligo,” said Carter’s mother Stephanie.

It was then that Stephanie knew they had to meet. In a stroke of luck, goodwill and media exposure, an anonymous viewer of KATU News donated $5,000 towards Stephanie’s and Carter’s airfares to Oregon.

The day they met, Carter and Rowdy bonded as though they had known each other a lifetime, changing Carter’s perception of his condition forever. She writes on Rowdy’s website, “We know in our hearts that Rowdy was put on this earth for [my son]. Instead of [him] hiding behind his skin, for the last week he has told everyone he knows that he is special because of his vitiligo. He has struggled for 2 LONG years. Rowdy changed all of that for him. We are forever grateful.”

What started at first as an incurable disease has become a blessing, a tale of hope and connection for all kids suffering from stigma, and a new best friend for a little boy named Carter. “Rowdy changed my son’s childhood. He changed our home and our lives,” she wrote.

UPDATE ON ROWDY . Rowdy saw a neurologist in the ER today. They are not sure if it was a seizure or a stroke or something else. They did a lot of tests and without a “much needed” (expensive) MRI and CT Scan, we may never know. He could have a tumor or a mass causing a lot of his issues. . We left with them prescribing a new medication for seizures as well as some codeine for his pain. This could be age related, an isolated event, or he may have more episodes like today. . I want to thank EACH AND EVERY ONE OF YOU for the prayers, well wishes, and support! It is truly overwhelming to see the kindness and love this pup has from around the world! We love you all! Please continue to follow along the amazing adventure we are having with Carter and his mom from Arkansas! While Rowdy started his day with a scare and a trip to the ER, he was able to end it meeting up with Carter, another beautiful little girl Emma from Eugene, and some dear family friends for a play date and then squeezed in a photo shoot to boot. . This dog never ceases to amaze me with his resilience!!

A post shared by White Eyed Rowdy (@white_eyed_rowdy) on Mar 20, 2017 at 12:10am PDT

This old dog will keep on changing the lives of so many others around the world, one click and new trick at a time.

A post shared by White Eyed Rowdy (@white_eyed_rowdy) on Mar 18, 2017 at 11:13pm PDT

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