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Just Like Me: 3-Legged Dog Gives Hope to Boy With Rare Genetic Disorder.

In times of fear, sometimes we just need a little nudge to help us be brave. For 14-year-old Travis Carpenter of Salt Lake City, Utah, that extra boost of courage came in the form of a three-legged dog named Lady.

Travis has a rare genetic condition that forced him to make a very difficult decision about his future. While he was born with two functioning legs, one of them was not working as it should due to his condition. 

“So, Travis has neurofibromatosis,” his mother Kelly Carpenter said. “It’s a genetic condition affecting one in 3,000, and it causes tumors to form on nerves anywhere throughout the body.”

In Travis’ case, the affected nerves were located on his left leg. A recent MRI showed multiple white spots indicating the presence of the tumors.

“There was literally almost no muscle in his thigh; his whole thigh was comprised of this, this tumor,” said Dr. Kevin Jones, orthopedic surgeon with Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah. “He just had such weakness in the bone that it just kind of gave up.”

After breaking his leg three times, it was clear that the bone was no longer growing and amputation had to be considered. Kevin told Travis that this was a decision he had to make on his own terms. 

As Travis contemplated this major health decision, his family got him a companion in the form of an Entlebucher Mountain Dog named Lady. She’s an adorable mix of brown, black, and white and, most importantly, she provides Travis with puppy therapy that has turned out to be just what the doctor ordered.

“It was a really good bright spot for all of us in this really, like, ‘Oh man, you know, this stinks, Travis broke his leg, but it was this really fun bright spot, ” Kelly said.

The best part of this bright spot is that Lady is a reflection of something Travis can relate to – Both he and Lady like to give high fives. Lady, however, likes to high four as she does so minus her one front leg. Kelly explained that Lady has a deformed limb that could have developed in the womb.

“When I saw her get around really well, I’m like, maybe I should do that so I can get around better than I am right now,” Travis said.

To see Lady so happy and living life to the fullest was an inspiration. On April 29, 2021, Travis had his left leg surgically removed. It was a difficult and emotional experience but, now, he had his four-legged friend for extra support.

“Mentally, it’s still tough, and you just, you still just cry,” Kelly said.

Some losses are just indescribable. However, Travis believes it allowed him to try new things and push past limits he had before.

“It was a very difficult decision because you can never get your leg back if you get rid of it,” Travis said. “And I just wanted to get rid of it so I can go out and have fun, go push harder than I ever have before.” 

While amputation was not any easy decision, Lady certainly helped Travis see the new life it could bring him. Their friendship was just the boost of courage he needed.

“I think it’s really cool to have a dog that’s just like me,” Travis said.

Share this story to remind a friend that the nudge to be brave can always be found.

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