Boy bullied for dwarfism finds best buddy

Buddy, the pint-sized dog has been a blessing for Quaden. Photo / Facebook/Stand Tall 4 Dwarfism
Buddy, the pint-sized dog has been a blessing for Quaden. Photo / Facebook/Stand Tall 4 Dwarfism

A boy who was bullied because of his dwarfism has found the ultimate best friend - a short-statured dog called Buddy who suffers with the same height-defining condition.

Five-year-old Quaden Bayles was diagnosed with achondroplasia - the most common form of dwarfism - at just three days old and has suffered at the hands of bullies and online trolls.

Quaden, from Dutton Park, Brisbane, hated his disability so much he banned his family from even using the word dwarfism.

The average 5-year-old is about 100cm but Quaden is just under 80cm tall.

But his mum, Yarraka Bayles, 34 - an advocate for dwarfism awareness - is determined to help her son accept who he is and adopted a 9-year-old Shih tzu with achondroplasia to help him realise he isn't alone.

Friendship has blossomed between the pair, with Buddy helping Quaden finally come to terms with his condition and making him proud to be different.

It was pure chance that Buddy met Quaden after a vet friend contacted Ms Bayles to say there was a dog her son just had to meet that was being cared for on behalf of Animal Rescue Queensland.

"I couldn't believe it when she said she had a rescue dog that had achondroplasia. I had no idea the condition affects animals too," Ms Bayles said.

"As soon as Quaden saw Buddy, the bond was instant.

"Quaden just adores his new pal and they do everything together. Buddy comes up to Quaden's waist and is the perfect companion.

"Quaden is so proud of Buddy and the fact he has dwarfism too. We went to the park the other day and he was telling everyone they were both dwarfs. It was lovely to see.

"I feel like Buddy's arrival has really helped Quaden realise that he's not alone."

With Quaden being the only person in his community living with dwarfism, Ms Bayles became determined to help raise awareness of the condition that affects one in every 30,000 children born in world.

She has now set up a support group for families with children who have dwarfism called Stand Tall 4 Dwarfism.

Ms Bayles said: "Quaden has always looked different to other kids his age, which has made him an easy target for bullies.

"When I brought him home from the hospital, I didn't know much about his condition. But as he's grown up, I've seen first-hand how people respond to his appearance.

"Strangers in the street stop and stare at him and he's been called 'ugly', a 'freak' and a 'midget' by others. It's heartbreaking.

"All I've ever wanted for Quaden was for him to be happy and healthy. But by putting ourselves out there, it also gave bullies an opportunity to put him down.

"I've been able to shield him from most of it, but I can't stop people gawking at him in the streets or pointing and laughing.

"As soon as Quaden realised he was different from everyone else, I tried really hard to make him see it as a positive.

"I'd tell him 'It's good to stand out in a crowd. You're really cool' but nothing I said helped boost his confidence. The jibes really got him down."

Things got particularly bad when Quaden started school this year and was around young kids who regularly pointed out his physical differences.

Ms Bayles said: "I know the kids are too young to realise that their words are hurtful, but it really affected Quaden.

"He started shouting 'What are you looking at' to people he caught staring at him. He's very vocal about his how much he hates being made to feel different.

"One day he banned me and his elder sisters, Guyala and Yilan, 16, from using the word dwarf. He absolutely hated it.

"I knew then that I needed to do something to help him accept his condition otherwise he'd grow up with all sorts of issues."

Just like his pint-sized owner, Buddy has health issues too and the family have to give him medication every day for arthritis - a common complaint with achondroplasia suffers - to help him with the pain.

Ms Bayles said: "Quaden is so attentive to Buddy. He knows what it must feel like as they both suffer with the same side-effects of being born with shorter limbs.

"Buddy has been a blessing for Quaden. They really are in this journey together and I hope their story helps other people realise it's cool to be small."


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