Toddler who lost both feet gets puppy born without a paw

Posted at 11:13 AM, Apr 22, 2015
and last updated 2015-04-22 11:21:40-04

GREENVILLE, S.C. –A three-year-old girl got a new buddy this week that has a little something in common with her. Sapphyre Johnson was born with a congenital condition that resulted in an amputation of both feet. Her new puppy, Lt. Dan, is missing a paw.

“A lot of kids don’t see other children or animals that have issues like they have,” the girl’s father, Matthew Johnson, told the Greenville News.

Lt. Dan, named after the character in “Forest Gump” who lost his legs in the Vietnam War, was one of nine puppies in his litter. He was the only one without a missing paw.

The Greenville News reported that some breeders told owner Karen Riddle to put the white German shepherd down, but she knew that was never an option. Many of her dogs have gone to people with special needs, so she decided to find a special child or wounded veteran. Shriners Hospital helped match the pup to Sapphyre.

“Our motto is ‘Love to the Rescue,’ and we see lives changed every day through the innovative medical care and services we are honored to offer,” Greenville Shriners Hospital Child Life Specialist Elaine Hardin said. “When community members, like the Riddles, reach out with such a generous donation and we are able to connect a patient with more ‘love’ from an unexpected place, it’s a beautiful thing.”