A three-year-old girl born without hands and feet due to a birth defect now has a special new friend, thanks to the forethought and generosity of a South Carolina dog breeder.
Though her family lives in Tennessee, Sapphyre Johnson has been a patient at Shriner's Hospital in Greenville, South Carolina since she was an infant. Greenville dog breeder Karen Riddle contacted the hospital asking whether they knew of any patients who could benefit from a puppy born without a paw. Though other breeders had advised Riddle to put the puppy down, she felt he was special and had a purpose. The hospital staff paired the white German Shepherd pup, named Lieutenant Dan after the character in Forrest Gump, with Sapphyre and her family. It's been a wonderful match.
While trying to find a patient who would appreciate Lieutenant Dan, hospital employee Elaine Hardin showed a picture of him to Sapphyre. The little girl became animated. Hardin said,
"She said, 'That’s my puppy. He’s just like me.’ He’s a special dog and he’s going to a special child.”