Read Time: 4 minutes
Travis Carpenter: Lady, want it? Lady! Lady, fetch! She's just not playful. I love Lady a whole bunch and I think she loves me a whole bunch. I'm pretty sure she knows about all the challenges I have and they're very similar to hers. My condition is called neurofibromatosis.
Kelly Carpenter: Travis was about four months old when we kind of were first suspecting that he had neurofibromatosis. It was like, “okay, maybe, we'll see”. He only had a few of the signs, the birthmarks, the café-au-lait spots. And then at six months of age, his pediatrician confirmed. It was a bit overwhelming because it's such a variable condition. You can just have birthmarks and a few other signs and be fine the rest of your life, or you could have major issues, and there's no way of knowing which way it's going to go.
Kevin Jones, MD: He has been on a long road. This has been a marathon, not a sprint.
His condition is most punctuated by heavy involvement of the nerves to his thigh on one side. All the nerves that go to that side are so riddled with tumors that the thigh almost didn't develop normal muscle.
Kelly Carpenter: You want to do everything for your kid. You want to help them and guide them and here's something. We can't do anything. There's no effective treatment. There's no cure.
Travis Carpenter: Lady is our dog. She's a year-and-a-half and she was born with three-and-a-half legs.
Kelly Carpenter: She's a little bit smaller and it takes her a little bit more time. It's taken her longer to learn how to walk compared to her littermates. It took Travis longer to learn how to walk than his brothers. We immediately emailed her and said, we are not afraid of orthopedic issues, we would we would welcome this dog.
Travis Carpenter: So right before we got her, I broke my leg.
That was my third fracture out of, well, three.
Kevin Jones, MD: We did get his bone to heal, but it was still very, very weak. He became so afraid of breaking it again, because it had been so painful. He would come into clinic for a cast change or something. He was just terrified and this is a very brave kid. I'd seen him go through a lot of very painful things before and you know, taking them in stride. But this, this was breaking him. At some point along the way there, I said to him, “Travis, if at any point, you want to talk to me about what it would be like to get rid of this limb that isn't working for you, we can talk about that.”
Travis Carpenter: When I saw Lady like get around really well as a puppy, I knew with three-and-a-half legs, I knew I could do it.
Kevin Jones, MD: I think he saw in this in this puppy, “hey, I can do this.” If, my dog can do this, get around without one limb, I can do this too. There's no doubt that we need inspiration in those moments. We need to be able to see a bigger picture. We need to be able to see hope and you need to be able to see that there is something bigger and better beyond us in order to go through those moments of sacrifice.
Travis Carpenter: And even though she fell sometimes she got right back up and I knew if I fall I'll just get right back up. Lady is one of my best friends. I love Lady a whole bunch and I think she loves me a whole bunch.
Kelly Carpenter: Hi. Okay, here, get settled. I think on some level she recognizes Travis has a challenge walking compared to the rest of us.
Kevin Jones, MD: I think the idea of this dog sort of serendipitously showing up at the right time, just before he needed to make a very important decision. It was a blessing.
Kelly Carpenter: Some people call it serendipity, sometimes God winks, we just call it this was meant to be. She's the perfect fit for our family. She fits right in.
Travis Carpenter: I think it might be a little miracle. I never thought of it happening whenever we were looking to adopt a dog. I didn't know that that dog would help make me decide to amputate my leg. The future does look bright for me and Lady.