A 3-year-old girl from South Carolina who was born without feet found a soulmate early in life when she was given a 9-week-old puppy named Lt. Dan who was born without a paw.
Sapphyre Johnson reportedly shouted, "He's just like me!" when she saw a photo of her soon-to-be pet, reports the Daily Mail. On Monday, she was given the German Shepherd who, unbeknownst to her, was almost euthanized at the suggestion of a breeder.
The dog's original owner, Karen Riddle, says she was determined to find Lt. Dan, who was named after a character from the film "Forrest Gump" who lost his legs in the Vietnam War, a home with a child with special needs or a wounded veteran, reports Greenville Online.
Riddle turned to Shriners Hospital, where she found Sapphyre, who has been a patient there since she was 3 months old. Shriners provides specialty orthopedic services to children, Greenville Online reports.
"When I was seven months pregnant, they did an ultra sound and told us she may be missing some fingers and toes," her mother, Ashley Johnson told Greenville Online of the birth defect. "They don't know what caused it. But she had just two really long toes on each foot. And when she was 1, we had them amputated so she could be fitted for prosthetics."
When Lt. Dan gets big enough, Shriners Hospital has even offered to make a prosthetic paw for him.
Shriners child life specialist Elaine Hardin told Greenville Online she believes Lt. Dan will help Sapphyre's social development.
"In the future, I could see Sapphy at her first show-and-tell in school and she could bring in her dog and explain about her dog and herself," Hardin said. "Everybody loves dogs and they'll want to know about her dog that's special like her."
Photo Credit: Heidi Heilbrunn/Greenville Online