Greeneville toddler with no feet adjusts to life with her new puppy, Lt. Dan

GREENEVILLE, TN (WJHL) – It is not unusual to hear of a bond between a person and their dog, but what about a little girl and her puppy?

Sapphyre Johnson, a three year-old from Greeneville, Tennessee and her new puppy Lt. Dan are adjusting to life together.

Sapphyre or “Sapphy” was born with a congenital disorder, Ectrodactyly, also known as split hand and foot.

“I was 7 months pregnant when we found out through an ultrasound visit she was going to have some fingers and toes missing,” says Ashley Johnson, Sapphyre’s mom. Ever since she was born, Sapphy has been visiting the Shriners Hospital in Greenville, South Carolina. Doctors amputated her toes and soon after began fitting her with prosthetics.

A few weeks ago, a German Shepherd breeder called Shriners Hospital and told them she had a puppy who was born with no paw and wanted him to grow up with a child in similar circumstances. The breeder decided to name the little puppy Lt. Dan, after the beloved character who lost both his legs from the popular film “Forrest Gump.”

Slideshow: Toddler born without legs gets dog without paws


Through coordination with Sapphy’s mom, Shriners, and the breeder, Lt. Dan and Saphy met for the first time a few weeks ago during one of her regular visits to the hospital.

“Sapphy just took off away from me and her Dad and ran straight for puppy and she took off her feet and showed Lt. Dan and he stuck up his little paw,” recalls Johnson. Sapphy left the hospital that day with a new puppy and best friend.

“She knows that she’s different and everybody’s different and that’s ok but its good for her to see somebody else that’s noticeably different like she is,” explains Johnson.

Copyright 2015 WJHL. All Rights Reserved.

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