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Dog With The Most Unusual Face Finds A Family Who Thinks He's Perfect

“He’s thriving and he’s just happy all of the time, and he’s wagging his tail all of the time."

No one thought that Murray would survive.

In 2013, rescuers found Murray and his three Weimaraner siblings on Dead Dog Beach, an infamous beach in Puerto Rico where people dump their unwanted dogs. But after being rescued, Murray and his siblings, who were only about 12 weeks old, started showing signs of distemper — a deadly virus that attacks a dog’s nervous system.

Female volunteers holding rescue dogs
Sato Project volunteers holding Murray and his siblings right after their rescue | The Sato Project

“I was holding him on the exam table and stroking him, and I was feeling a click in his jaw — that’s one of the signs of distemper,” Christina Beckles, founder and president of The Sato Project, a group that saves stray dogs in Puerto Rico, told The Dodo. “There’s no treatment at that point. A dog can then start to have seizures, and they can start to get brain damage.”

Beckles and the vet made the difficult decision to put Murray down, which they thought would be the kindest thing to do. But when the time came, the vet changed her mind.

Dog being examined by vet
Murray being examined by a vet several months after his rescue | The Sato Project

“She took him to the table and he wagged his tail ... and she couldn’t do it,” Beckles said.

Yet Murray only had a very slim chance of surviving — one of his sisters had already passed away from the disease.

When puppies get distemper, 80 percent of them don’t make it, according to Cathy Meeks, a board-certified veterinarian at BluePearl Veterinary Hospital in Tampa, Florida. The best way to prevent distemper is vaccination. But having been a stray, Murray and his siblings hadn’t gotten any vaccinations.

Woman holding rescue dog
Murray with a Sato Project volunteer just before he flew to the U.S. | The Sato Project

Yet to everyone’s amazement, Murray got better with treatment, although he has some ongoing health problems, including mild seizures. The distemper also made his head grow in an oddly-shaped way.

“Originally, his face was pretty symmetrical, and now ... it’s kind of crooked,” Mackenzie Gallant, the woman who ended up adopting Murray, told The Dodo. “Now his skull is pretty flat on his head.”

Dog with funny shaped head snuggling with stuffed animal
Mackenzie Gallant

Murray’s teeth also rotted and most of them had to be removed, which caused his tongue to start hanging out of his mouth.

Dog with tongue hanging out of the side of his mouth
Mackenzie Gallant

But none of these things mattered to Gallant and her family, which includes her mother Kristina, her dad Dennis, her two younger brothers, Wesley and Eli, their other rescue dogs, Pili and Fox, and their cat Daphne. In November 2013, they started fostering Murray, and they officially adopted him just before Christmas the following month.

Young woman hugging dog
Mackenzie with Murray shortly after her family officially adopted him | Mackenzie Gallant

“He’s my favorite dog,” Gallant said. “I love him. He actually sleeps in my room every night.”

Dog snuggling with woman on couch
Murray snuggling with Mackenzie on the couch | Mackenzie Gallant

In 2016, Gallant left home to start college — but she still makes sure to stay in touch with Murray whenever she can. “It was hard to leave all of my animals … but Murray is special,” Gallant said.

Dog siblings in sweaters
Murray with his two dogs siblings, Pili and Fox | Mackenzie Gallant

Gallant regularly FaceTimes with Murray, and Murray still sleeps in her bedroom.

Woman talking to dog through FaceTime
Mackenzie talking to Murray through FaceTime | Mackenzie Gallant

“Even when I’m at school, he still gets tucked into my room — he still has a pillow and a blanket,” Gallant said. “And he knows the words. You’ll say, ‘Murray, it’s time for bed,’ and he’ll run up there to my room.”

Dog sleeping in blankets
Mackenzie Gallant

When Gallant is home, she spends as much time with Murray as possible. One of the things she likes to do is take Murray, Pili and Fox out for long walks.

Dogs walking on leashes outside
Murray out for a walk with Pili, Fox and a foster dog | Mackenzie Gallant

“He absolutely loves going for walks,” Gallant said. “That’s the highlight for all three of our dogs. We say, ‘You guys want to go for a walk?’ And they all come running. One of my dogs will start howling, and Murray will start howling.”

Dog out for walk in snow
Murray out for a walk with his two dog siblings, Pili and Fox | Mackenzie Gallant

“He’s thriving and he’s just happy all of the time, and he’s wagging his tail all of the time,” Gallant added. “He loves all dogs and all people.”

Dog smiling with tongue hanging out
Mackenzie Gallant

Four years have now gone by since Murray’s rescue, yet Beckles still remembers Murray fondly — and she’s thrilled that Murray found the perfect home.

Family picture with dog in Santa hat
Mackenzie Gallant

“This dog looks different than all the other doggies,” Beckles said. “But he’s not — he still loves to go on walks and he will hike. They don’t treat him any differently than the other doggies.”

Dog with tongue sticking out of his mouth
Murray running out | Mackenzie Gallant

“Kristina [Mackenzie’s mom] and her family have been incredible, right from the get-go,” Beckles said. “I could not have wanted a better home for him.”

To help rescue more dogs like Murray in Puerto Rico, you can make a donation to The Sato Project. You can also follow Murray’s adventures on his Instagram page.