Vitiligo is a disease that causes the loss of skin color in blotches. It occurs when pigment-producing cells die or stop functioning, which, as a result, makes some parts of the skin whiter than others. Humans aren’t the only ones who can get vitiligo, dogs can too! For dogs, it makes certain parts of their fur lighter than others.
It is particularly noticeable on this black lab, named Rowdy, because his natural fur is so dark. The vitiligo has caused light circles of fur around his eyes, which makes him look like he has a “reverse panda” effect. Although he looks different, he’s just like any other dog.
13-year-old Rowdy attracts attention wherever he goes, and his human is happy to tell his story. According to USA Today, about half of all people with vitiligo develop it in their youth, and it can lead to low self-esteem or depression. That’s where Rowdy comes in. The American Vitiligo Research Foundation appointed him as a representative for kids with the same condition. He does a great job teaching kids that being different can be beautiful.
One of those kids is eight-year-old Carter Blanchard who was once so ashamed of his vitiligo that he didn’t want to go to school. But when Carter and his mom flew more than 2,000 miles across the country to meet Rowdy, everything changed. After seeing Rowdy and the similarities they had, Carter began to feel better about himself. Rowdy was able to make Carter feel a lot more comfortable in his own skin, despite his vitiligo!
Carter’s mom, Stephanie, says he has 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,” she told KATU-TV.
Their vitiligo makes them unique and being unique is something to be proud of. There are so many people in this world, and striving to be your own person is something everyone should try to do. It’s important that we all feel comfortable in our skin. A big thanks to Rowdy for helping people do just that!
Watch Rowdy and Carter in the video below:
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