Meet Sapphyre Johnson, a 3-year-old Tennessee girl who was born without feet and fingers. Since she was 3 months old, this adorable toddler has been a patient at Shriners Hospitals for Children, undergoing many surgeries in order to be fitted with prosthetic feet. But she recently received care of a different variety—the puppy variety to be exact!
The hospital was contacted earlier this month by breeder Karen Riddle, who told them a recent litter of nine german shepherds included one very special dog born without a front paw. Riddle wanted this pup (whom she named Lt. Dan after the epic Forrest Gump character) to grow up with a child sharing a similar experience.
When Sapphyre’s mom Ashley showed her a picture of Lt. Dan, the little girl immediately fell in love, noting “He has a foot like mine.” And because Lt. Dan’s character is so nurturing and calm, he was a perfect fit to be a therapy dog for the toddler.
Riddle describes their first meeting:
“We said, ‘Sapphyre show him your feet’ and, oh boy, she threw off her prosthetics and her socks and said, ‘Look!’ Then Lt. Dan put his paw up at the exact same time.“
The little dynamic duo is now inseparable, and have a lifetime partnership ahead showing just how heartwarming diversity can be.