Rescue Team Found This Puppy Who Has a Tail Growing Out of His Forehead

By: Past Chronicles Staff | Published: Oct 16, 2023

Rochelle Steffen, the proprietor of a shelter in Missouri for dogs with special needs, has had her fair share of experiences with canines who require specialized medical attention. She mentions in an interview that some of the dogs have been mistreated, while others have been born with birth deformities such as spina bifida or even an extra leg.

One fateful day in 2019, however, Rochelle saw a puppy at her shelter called Mac’s Mission, who was unlike any dog she had ever seen before. The moment will live on with the animal lover forever because it was the day that changed her life.

Searching for Strays on a Cold Day

The number of animals abandoned by their owners or discovered as strays vary from state to state across the United States. The percentage of animals in shelters is higher in the American West than elsewhere. Jackson, Missouri, may not be in that region, but many dogs are abandoned there.

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Source: Facebook/Mac’s Mission

Thankfully, Mac’s Mission made it their purpose to frequently scope the place in case some animals needed rescuing. One particularly winter day, the team went out, checking the streets for any strays. If pets are left abandoned in the cold, they will likely freeze to death in a matter of hours. The team was not ready for what they were about to see.

Finding Two Abandoned Dogs

Mac’s Mission staff were correct in their judgment on going out that particular day because they found two abandoned dogs—an older dog and a puppy. Sadly, the cute little furball was injured. He likely suffered frostbite on one of his paws while walking around the chilly streets.

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Source: Facebook/Mac’s Mission

The puppy got the team’s full attention, but not because of its wound. They were all shocked, some with their jaws dropped. The group from Mac’s Mission, which specialized in helping animals with unique conditions, realized it wasn’t simply a regular pup they found since he had an extra tail that was protruding from his forehead!

Discovering the Big Surprise

Animals with extra parts are not unheard of. There was the calf born with two heads, a puppy with six legs, and a cat with extra fingers who could pick up things like humans do. These stories all made the headlines, so an additional body is not shocking to the team from Mac’s Mission.

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Source: Facebook/Mac’s Mission

What the abandoned puppy has, however, is something truly special. The animal experts have not encountered a creature with a body part between its eyes. The group did not have to get the opinion of vets on what was on the dog’s forehead, as they could see it was a tail. The next thing the team did was touch it to check if it wags. What happened surprised them further.

Is it Hurting Him?

The curiosity about the pup’s extra tail, which was approximately a third the size of his real tail, continued. The veterinarian’s X-ray found that it appears to have “no genuine use,” from what they can tell. According to Rochelle Steffen, there’s no medical need to remove it, which is why she decided that the forehead tail would not be removed for the time being.

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Source: Facebook/Mac’s Mission

She came to that conclusion because it appeared that the appendage wasn’t causing the adorable furball any pain. In fact, the pooch plays for hours, as told by the founder of Mac’s Mission. Nevertheless, that was Rochelle’s stand when she knew little about the puppy’s extra tail.

Will They Remove It?

The Mac’s Mission founder has stated that even if she believed the tail was there to stay, she was still unsure if it would need to be amputated. The entire team promised to keep everyone posted on their social media page once they’d had more time to have the vet look at him.

Source: Facebook/Mac’s Mission

Veterinarian Brian Heuring of Cape Small Animal Clinic in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, tells media that X-rays of the pup’s tail reveal that it is “all just skin.” Even though Rochelle was hoping his extra tail would wag like a dog’s, he was disappointed to see that the appendage lacked the vertebrae that normally make up a canine tail.

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Explaining the Extra Tail

Mac’s Mission’s vet stated there was no need to remove the appendage because an X-ray revealed no bones, and the puppy didn’t appear to be bothered by it. Professor Margret Casal of the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine stated that the most likely explanation for how the puppy got his face tail is not endearing. There was a good chance that the tail was the fur baby’s parasitic twin.

Source: Facebook/Mac’s Mission

Identical twins are extremely uncommon in dogs, who typically give birth in litters, unlike humans, according to Dr. Casal. Therefore, it is “very super, super rare” to find a dog with a parasitic twin. This, however, is hardly unprecedented.

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The Tail is Not What They Expected

When an embryo divides in half relatively soon after fertilization, regular identical twins are created. Conjoined twins can result when this split occurs too late in pregnancy, and the halves don’t completely separate. Asymmetrical late splits, in which one half of the embryo develops into a fully formed person, and the other becomes an extra body component, are even more uncommon, according to Dr. Casal.

Source: Facebook/Mac’s Mission

Above the puppy’s face and tail, Dr. Casal pointed out a small mohawk of fur that was growing backward, resembling the crest of a dog like a Rhodesian Ridgeback. She claimed that this might imply a twin’s “behind” on the pooch’s face.

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Different Expert, Different Opinion

David Kilroy had a different opinion on the puppy’s extra tail. According to the doctor, who specializes in head anatomy and development at the University College Dublin School of Veterinary Medicine, at first, he believed it was a computer trick and not real. Nevertheless, he claimed that after viewing the images and X-ray, he resolved that it appeared to be some strange protrusion of skin.

Source: Facebook/Mac’s Mission

Still, Dr. Casal believes the puppy’s tail is his twin. According to her, without signals from the top, the bottom of a spine cannot develop bones. So it could make sense that the appendage on the dog appears like only skin on X-ray, even if it is a parasitic sibling.

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Naming the Extraordinary Puppy

It wasn’t long before the puppy’s frostbite mended, so the next thing to do was for Rochelle and her team to name him. The group unanimously decided to call the fur baby “Narwhal the Little Magical Furry Unicorn,” or Narwhal for short. This adorable puppy’s name comes from a type of porpoise that develops a tusk on the center of its head.

Source: Getty Images/Historical Picture Archive

The Arctic waters near Canada, Greenland, Norway, and Russia are home to narwhals, also known as “unicorns of the sea.” Their tusks, which are most frequently found in males, can go as long as three meters! Rubbing together the ivories is assumed to be a method of information exchange, and research also suggests that narwhals utilize them as tools for feeding.

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He is From a Special Breed

As if the extra tail on his forehead doesn’t make him cute enough, Narwhal had to be of a mix of two adorable dog breeds, dachshund and beagle. The beautiful family watchdog known as the Doxle also goes by the names Beaschund, Beweenie, and Doxie. They are affectionate, fun-loving, and curious, combining some of the most remarkable traits of both parents.

Source: Facebook/Mac’s Mission

Despite being a “designer breed,” Doxles can be found in rescue organizations and shelters specializing in particular breeds. With how cute Narwhal looks, people who encountered him at the center could not understand why his owners abandoned him on the streets.

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The Mission of Mac's Mission

Narwal is not the only one special in this story, where he finds his way to was equally as special. Formed by Rochelle Steffen, whose pit bull Mac serves as the charity’s namesake, Mac’s Mission “specializes in special.” Overstretched shelter systems may choose euthanasia for dogs with special needs or medical issues unless Rochelle’s organization steps in to help.

Source: Facebook/Rochelle MacsMom Steffen

While they are based in Jackson, Missouri, they perform rescue services throughout the country. Those in most need are the ones the group assists. Many of them are newborn puppies with hydrocephalus and cleft palates. The group has a broad and knowledgeable neonatal program. Safe to say that Narwhal was led to a group of people dealing with his type of situation.

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Rescued by the Best Team

Mac’s Mission’s success stories are some of the most inspiring any animal lover will ever hear. There was Truman, a member of the presidential puppy litter, who was born in an appalling situation. He was severely ill and developed a full-body septic infection and joint infections.

Source: Facebook/Mac’s Mission

The poor pup required numerous blood transfusions and round-the-clock medical care. He seemed like he won’t make it, but the pooch survived and found his forever home and family. Then there is Cricket, who has obviously also been through a lot in her little life and is now looking a lot better after receiving some genuine tender loving care from the group.

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Becoming a Social Media Sensation

It was on November 8, 2019, when Rochelle posted the news of Mac’s Mission’s social media page. She stated that her team found one adult dog and a puppy about 10 months old. Along with the announcement, Rochelle made a request for donations.

Source: Facebook/Mac’s Mission

The highlight of the post, however, was when the Mac’s Mission owner explained that the rescued pup had an extra tail situated on its forehead. One look at Narwhal’s photo and people fell in love! His pictures and videos had amassed tens of thousands of “likes” in just one day. The most excellent part was that the popularity of Narwhal pictures has contributed to increasing public awareness of the rescue center’s efforts.

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Many Wanted to Adopt Him

According to Rochelle, the rescue group immediately received hundreds of applications from people wanting to adopt Narwhal, but they have had to turn them down since they are waiting for him to mature a little more and make sure the tail doesn’t become a nuisance. We could not help but imagine Narwhal’s former owners as one of those who filed an application.

Source: Facebook/Mac’s Mission

They probably wanted him back after seeing how the cute puppy got famous. Whoever they were, they likely regretted abandoning Narwhal because of his deformity. We don’t know about them, but his unique tail made him more adorable. No wonder he gained legions of fans who wanted to take him home! Yet, Mac’s Mission had a different plan for him.

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It Was Hard to Let Him Go

If people who saw Narwhals’s photos and videos instantly fell for him, what more do those who see him and interact with the pup daily? Rochelle disclosed that she had made the decision to house the dog herself a few weeks after the news of the rescue went viral.

Source: Facebook/Mac’s Mission

The Mac’s Mission owner shared that she had no intention at first to keep Narwhal, adding she was not alone in her decision. Rochelle told the Southeast Missourian that the whole team could not let the puppy go. As expected, the unicorn pup had endeared himself to her rescuers.

What could Narwhal’s future to the Mac’s Mission be?

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Future as a Rescue Dog

When asked for other reasons she kept Narwhal, Rochelle stated that she was concerned that the dog would be used for financial gain. She added that if money were to be made from the pup, she would prefer to see it donated to the rescue organization that saves thousands of canines.

Source: Facebook/Mac’s Mission

Additionally, Rochelle stated that she intended to train Narwhal to be a therapy dog. Many people hope for the best for this adorable pooch. It will be a shame if Narwhal has to go through any more hardships after enduring so much already. It’s comforting to know that he has Mac’s Mission on his side forever!

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