There’s nothing more special than the relationship between a boy and his dog, but the bond between Truett Palmer and his pooch in particular would not have happened without the help of a generous stranger.
When 2-year-old Truett family noticed how well he bonded with a therapy dog that visited him during his lengthy hospital stays, they realized they had to get him a Goldendoodle of his very own. Thanks to a woman states away, who heard about his story, that dream became a reality on Christmas morning.
“I don’t have a lot to give, but that’s been something that’s been very important to me and to be able to share that with another family, I couldn’t imagine anything better,” Gena Gray, of Kentucky, told InsideEdition.com.
Truett, of Owensville, Missouri, was born in 2017 with a genetic disorder and a congenital heart defect and has undergone more than a dozen surgeries, including three open heart surgeries.
But complications during his most recent open-heart surgery over the summer left Truett needing a heart transplant, which he received in October.
“As a mom, feeling torn between being there for Truett, taking care of my other children and being a wife as well, i’s taken a toll on our family but its taught us a lot," his mom Danielle Palmer told InsideEdition.com. "We’ve learned family is so important and our family bond is stronger than ever.”
One thing Truett looked forward to during his most recent hospital stay was weekly visits from a therapy dog named Zuri.
“She was a Goldendoodle and she had curly hair and it was just kind of different, because he suffers from sensory issues and he doesn’t like anyone touching his feet,” Danielle said. “But with Zuri, she would come in and he would just run his feet through her fur and he was just joyful when he was with her. It’s like the world didn’t exist.”
After Truett was discharged, Danielle began researching getting a Goldendoodle for the family, but found the breed especially pricey.
“Financially, going through a transplant and hospital stay and everything, it wasn't going to work out in our budget,” she said. “We put it off and prayed about it.”
She eventually came across a Facebook post Gray left in a group for Goldendoodle lovers. Gray explained her beloved dog just had puppies and she would love to gift one special needs child a furry friend in time for Christmas.
Gray, a nursing student, lives alone on several acres surrounded only by her many dogs.
“They’re my best friends. It gets lonely being by myself, but anytime I get sad or I’m upset, they just know. They’re such a good breed,” Gray said. “I had a couple puppies left and I felt I really wanted to bless a family.”
When she came across Truett’s story, she knew he would be the recipient of the puppy.
“He’s been through way more than I could possibly imagine, and seeing how strong he is and how strong his family is and how positive his family is about it all,” Gray said.
Following a combined effort by Gray and the Palmer family to transport Zeda across state lines, the Goldendoodle puppy was in Truett’s arms just in time for Christmas morning.
“They were so excited,” Danielle said. “Truett, you could just see the joy on his face the moment she was placed in his lap. He’s just so happy and calls her his baby. They’re just best friends.”
Truett is now on the road to good health and adjusting to his transplant well. Danielle said she hopes their story will encourage others to consider organ donation.
To learn more about organ donation, visit this website.