Rae was given the nickname “unicorn” due to her unique ear that sits atop her head like a horn
Rae — or “ear” spelled backward — lost her left ear shortly after birth (it’s believed the dog’s mother was too aggressive cleaning off the placenta or amniotic sac) and was immediately rushed to Family Friends Veterinary Hospital in Grand Rapids, Michigan. It was here that the vets not only gave Rae stitches atop her head and down the left side of her face and neck, but also where animal hospital receptionist Vorhees fell in love with the pup.
“I lost my precious golden retriever Loki to lymphoma last year at 4 years old, so I had a heart for golden retrievers to begin with,” Vorhees said, adding, “When they found out [Rae] need 24-hour care, I have a heart for golden retrievers, and I just knew that she was meant for me, essentially.”
“The minute I saw her,” Vorhees told GMA, “I knew I wanted to raise her and be there for her even though I knew the road to recovery wouldn’t always be easy.”
Vorhees told People that when Rae was healed from surgery and started to get bigger, her ear started migrating upwards, “and she almost looked like she was going to have a facelift.”
Soon after, the animal hospital staff dubbed Rae the adorable nickname she has today: unicorn.
“Rae has the most hilarious personality,” Vorhees said. “She owns any room that she walks into and has never been shy, and has always been the puppy to walk into a large group of dogs.”
Rae’s ear may not align with her ear canal, but she can still hear and respond to Vorhees’ commands.
“Everyone wonders how that one ear works since it’s so far away from where the canal was, but we don’t know how to answer these questions, we just know that it works,” Vorhees said.
Vorhees later took to Rae’s Instagram, @goldenunicornrae, to address the placement of the ear, writing, “I’ve had a lot of people asking how/why her ear migrated to the middle of her head. A lot of people wonder if her story is real.”
“She’s 7 days old here,” she continued, “and my precious baby has her right ear on the right side and you can see the left side healing nicely.”
Now, Rae’s Instagram account has 102,000 followers and counting. Rae’s also a star on TikTok, where a video of Rae was posted by Family Friends Veterinary Hospital vet technician Samantha Smith. That video, so far, has been viewed 3.8 million times and has more than 771,000 likes.
“I was going through a terrible time with a lot of transitions in my life personally, and Rae was a very positive distraction from a lot of things that were taking place in my life. She’s actually the one who saved me. I could focus on her to take care of her to love and get love back, and she was that for me, and kind of that’s why she means so much to me,” Vorhees told CNN.