Murray and his three Weimaraner siblings were discovered by rescuers in 2013 on Dead Dog Beach, a notorious Puerto Rican beach where people dump their unwanted pets. Murray and his siblings, who were only around 12 weeks old when they were rescued, began displaying indications of distemper, a devastating virus that destroys a dog’s neurological system.
“I was holding him on the exam table and petting him, and I felt a click in his jaw – that’s one of the indicators of distemper,” Christina Beckles, founder and president of The Sato Project, a Puerto Rican organization that rescues stray dogs, told The Dodo. “At that point, there is no therapy.” A dog may subsequently begin to experience seizures and suffer from brain damage.”
Beckles and the vet took the tough choice to put Murray down, believing it was the most humane thing to do. When the time came, though, the vet changed her mind.
“She carried him to the table, and he wagged his tail… and she couldn’t,” Beckles explained.
Murray, on the other hand, had a very tiny chance of survival – one of his sisters had already died from the condition.
According to Cathy Meeks, a board-certified veterinarian at BluePearl Veterinary Hospital in Tampa, Florida, 80 percent of pups that contract distemper die. Vaccination is the most effective strategy to avoid distemper. Murray and his siblings, however, had not had any immunizations since they had been stray.
Despite this, Murray improved with treatment, despite the fact that he still has certain health issues, including moderate seizures. His skull grew in an unusual form as a result of the distemper.
“Originally, his face was really symmetrical, and now… it’s sort of crooked,” Murray’s adoptive mother, Mackenzie Gallant, told The Dodo. “His skull is now quite flat on his head.”
Murray’s teeth deteriorated as well, and the majority of them had to be extracted, causing his tongue to dangle out of his mouth.
But none of this mattered to Gallant and her family, which included her mother Kristina, father Dennis, two younger brothers, Wesley and Eli, two rescue dogs, Pili and Fox, and their cat Daphne. They began fostering Murray in November 2013, and he was legally adopted the following month, right before Christmas.
“He’s my favorite dog,” remarked Gallant. “I adore him. Every night, he sleeps in my room.”
Gallant went home for college in 2016, but she still keeps in touch with Murray whenever she can. “It was difficult leaving all of my animals… but Murray is unique,” Gallant explained.
Gallant FaceTimes Murray on a daily basis, and Murray still sleeps in her bedroom.
“Even when I’m at school, he comes into my room – he still has a pillow and a blanket,” Gallant explained. “And he understands the words. You’ll say, ‘Murray, it’s bedtime,’ and he’ll dash up to my room.”
When Gallant is at home, she spends as much time as she can with Murray. One of her favorite activities is taking Murray, Pili, and Fox for long walks.
“He like going on walks,” Gallant added. “That is the highlight of the day for all three of our pets.” ‘Do you want to go for a walk?’ we ask. And they all take off sprinting. Murray will start howling if one of my dogs starts howling.”
“He’s prospering, and he’s just happy all the time,” Gallant continued. “He adores all dogs and all humans.”
Four years have passed since Murray’s rescue, but Beckles recalls him fondly — and she’s overjoyed that Murray got the ideal home.
“This dog appears different from the others,” Beckles observed. “But he isn’t – he still enjoys going for walks and hiking.” He is not treated any differently than the other dogs.”
“From the beginning, Kristina [Mackenzie’s mother] and her family have been great,” Beckles added. “I couldn’t have asked for a better place for him.”