Boy and Dog Who Bonded Through Vitiligo Finally Meet


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Meet white-eyed Rowdy — the dog with Vitiligo who is melting our hearts with his unrequited love for children suffering from the same disease.

Rowdy — a 13-year old purebred black labrador retriever — lives with his mom, Niki Umbenhower, in Canby, Oregon.


She discovered “these crazy white circles around his eyes the past two years of his life,” Umbenhower said in a YouTube video. Umbenhower just thought it was a sign of aging but the spots turned out to be Vitiligo. This is a skin disorder commonly seen in humans where white patches of skin appear on different parts of the body. This happens because the cells that make pigment (color) in the skin are destroyed. Vitiligo can also affect tissue inside the mouth and nose and the eyes.

Source: Rowdy/Facebook

Umbenhower saw this rare development in her dog as a way to educate children to better understand the skin condition through her own dog’s eyes. “Hi — I am Rowdy. I have Vitiligo,” she wrote on Rowdy’s Facebook page. “I have had a crazy life! I am most proud of the fact that I help support children with vitiligo!” Rowdy also has his own website and the YouTube video to create awareness. In the video, Umbenhower says people on the street ask her about the white circles around his eyes. “[It is] a skin pigmentation but it’s basically like what Michael Jackson had, she said. “He loves the attention. He gets lots of treats out of the deal and people are wanting to stop and pose with him.”
News of the white-eyed dog and his Vitiligo spread quickly throughout the internet. It even caught the the eye of 8-year-old Carter Blanchard from Searcy, Arkansas who discovered Rowdy while scrolling through Facebook and saw the resemblance. “Carter was diagnosed and got Vitiligo the exact same month and year that rowdy did,” Stephanie Adcock, the mother of Carter Blanchard, told Oregon television station KATU. “I used to pick up Carter from school from kindergarten and first grade, and the first thing he would say is that he hates his face and hates his skin. I read that Rowdy had Vitiligo and I was blown away, and when I showed Carter he was so excited to see a dog that was famous for his Vitiligo.”

Carter Blanchard and his mom Stephanie Adcock/

Carter Blanchard and Rowdy became digital friends for years. After learning that Rowdy — now a senior dog approaching 14 years old — had been in declining health, it became urgent that the two should finally meet. A GoFundMe page was set up on March 15 to raise money for Blancard to fly to Oregon to meet his penpal. It was called ‘Road To Rowdy.’ One anonymous donor who saw the story on KATU news donated $5,000 for the mother and son to travel on a plane on March 18 to meet Rowdy. Their bittersweet meeting was posted on Rowdy’s Facebook page.
White Eyed Rowdy Finally Meets Boy With Vitiligo #RoadToRowdy White Eyed Rowdy Finally Meets Boy With Vitiligo #RoadToRowdy Posted by White Eyed Rowdy on Tuesday, March 21, 2017
After their meeting, Rowdy took to Facebook with an update of another little girl from London, Ontario with Vitiligo who will also get to meet him. “Life has been a HUGE whirlwind since this amazing boy and his mom flew in,” it ready on Rowdy”s Facebook page. “And now, tonight Ava and her Mom — from London Ontario Canada flew in and met Rowdy too! Thank you to allllllll of you who have supported, prayed, shared, and followed our story!”

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