Overcoming the Odds: The Story of a Dog Named Huey

Written by on September 20, 2015 in Sense of Purpose with 24 Comments

Tracy LystraA common characteristic of highly resilient people is the desire to support others by making a difference through social support, with many involved in the self-help movement as leaders or active participants.

For a few the need to contribute is a drive that one could only describe as a calling. And that’s what animal rescue and advocacy clearly is for Tracy Lystra.

When I asked Tracy for some background information for this article the stay-at-home mother of 3 who homeschools her children (Oh, and also happens to be a 4th degree black belt!) referred to her story as “My boring life.” but when you learn about a few of her exploits rescuing animals that most would call hopeless cases, you’ll see why her life is anything but boring.

“I don’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t care about animals, I was forever rescuing stray or abandoned creatures because in my young mind it seemed every one of them deserved to have a safe home. When I was in 2nd grade, I remember sitting on the playground during recess, writing to President Ronald Reagan, asking him to please stop animal abuse. What I received in return was a lovely autographed picture of him. Not exactly thrilling to a 2nd grader who wanted to snuff out animal abuse, but even at that early age it instilled in me the notion that if I wanted to create meaningful change I’d have to start closer to home.” ~Tracy

Tracy’s Mission

Through the years Tracy’s mission to help the helpless has led her to travel thousands of miles around her home state of California rescuing abandoned and abused animals.

In one particularly harrowing incident, she’d been contacted by someone about a pit bull puppy that was puppygoing to be used as bait for dog training. Tracy didn’t hesitate to contact the owner of the puppy who eventually agreed to release the puppy to her if she paid him $50.00. She drove to the address provided and as she pulled up a group of men came out and after searching the car she was allowed to enter the house. Tracy is the first to admit that in hindsight going alone to pick up the puppy probably wasn’t the smartest move, but all she could think of at the time was she had to do something to keep that puppy from the horrible fate that awaited it as a bait dog. Fortunately the puppy – barely 4 weeks old at the time of his rescue – has since found his forever home and is happy and healthy.

While many of her earlier rescues have been challenging, they pale in comparison to her experience with Huey.

I know some people are sensitive and prefer not to see or read about the bad things that go on in the world, so before we continue let me caution you that Huey appears to have been used as a bait dog. A bait dog is restrained, often with its mouth taped shut to prevent it from fighting back, so that dogs that have been bred for fighting can practice by taking their aggression out on them – and trust me when I say this is an extremely watered down version of what really happens.

Taking a Stand For a Dog Named Huey

A Dog Named HueyI chose to share Huey’s story, not for the shock value but because, despite the fact that dog fighting has been illegal for decades, it is happening every day, all around us. It’s a brutal “sport” with a lot of money and dangerous people involve, which makes the commitment of all of those working so hard to bring an end to this evil practice that much more courageous.

Huey was found on December 25, 2014, by a Good Samaritan who gave him shelter and food for the night. The next day 2nd Chances Rescue agreed to take on the responsibility for Huey and his vet bills.

Huey’s medical prognosis was grim as he had extensive injuries to his face, weighed just 33 pounds and was extremely malnourished and weak. As unpleasant as the photo may be for some to see, the reality was far worse. His jaw had been mangled beyond repair, with pieces of his bottom lip missing. The vet suspected multiple past breaks and his front legs are bowed due to lack of exercise.

While assisting with Huey’s initial processing, Tracy fell in love with him and the vet agreed that Huey could stay with her while he healed from his physical and emotional wounds.A Dog Named Huey Tracy slept little during those first few days as she cared for the weak, battled scared dog, but it was clear that Huey had the will to live.

Although you can see from this recent photo that Huey has made incredible strides since the early days of his rescue, his recovery is ongoing. He still occasionally suffers from nightmares, infections are an ever-present challenge, and the vet has mentioned the possibility of jaw surgery. However, the good news is that thanks to the donations of generous supporters Huey has participated in 2 separate training camps and is well on his way to becoming an Ambassador for his breed as well as for recovering fighting dogs.

Huey’s many fans continue to follow his progress and the story of his rescue and recovery has been picked up by both local and national media, including a feature on the CNN website … but this is just the beginning of the story.

In addition to caring for her family – which is now officially Huey’s forever home – and working to bring the attention to the horrors of dog fighting, Tracy continues to foster abandoned and abused animals and has launched a rapidly growing program to benefit confined shelter animals.

Hueys Reading Program

Huey’s Heroes Reading Program

The program is designed to help children improve their reading skills while providing socialization and human interaction with shelter animals. Research has shown that the confined animals benefit from the companionship, and the soothing voice of the child helps to greatly reduce their stress level.

In addition to the reading practice children benefit from their exposure to the animals and the program also helps to raise awareness of the problems of overcrowding in local shelters. Clearly a win/win!

The Faces of Those Rescued


Introducing the Saving Huey Foundation

On March 4th, 2016 Saving Huey officially became the Saving Huey Foundation and what an inspirational testament to Tracy’s dedication to the cause of rescuing abandoned and abused animals! This also represents one step closer to Tracy’s BIG dream of establishing an animal rescue center. With the amazing progress she’s made just in the past year, I have no doubt she’ll make that dream come true one day!

I always wondered why somebody didn’t do something about that … and then I realized I AM somebody. ~Author Unknown

The Humane Society estimates more than 40,000 people participate in organized dog fighting in the U.S., and hundreds of thousands more take part in impromptu street dog fighting events. If you’ like to learn more or find out how you can get involved visit Taking Action to Stop Dogfighting.

In closing, I’d like to thank Tracy for allowing me to share her story with you. Like her extremely proud aunt (yours truly) she is normally content to work behind the scenes, but this is an important cause and we can never have too many “everyday heroes” to inspire us. To learn more about Huey, the Foundation or Huey’s Hero’s Reading Program please visit her Facebook page – Saving Huey Foundation or his website at www.savinghuey.com

Note: This article was originally published January 22, 2015, and has been updated with new developments in Huey’s inspiring story.

Let today be the day you give up who you’ve been for who you can become.
About Marquita Herald

Marquita Herald

Marquita is an author, resilience coach and the chief evangelist at Emotionally Resilient Living. She’s also an unapologetic workaholic who loves red wine, rock n’ roll, road trips (and car dancing!), peanut butter cookies and (especially) a dog named Lucy.

She’s saddened and frustrated by excuses and cruelty and believes authentic compassion is the most powerful force in the world.

To learn more about Marquita and the mission of Emotionally Resilient Living  click here.


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  1. Karen Tudor Reese says:

    This beautiful true story and Tracy are so inspiring. Tracy and Huey are in my thoughts and prayers always. Everything she does inspires me to be a better person and to help all animals have a better life. Thank you, Tracy and Huey and all the rest of your family! ❤

    • Well, I admit to being biased, but I completely agree with you. Tracy’s passion and dedication to her cause is amazing. Thanks so much for taking the time to share your thoughts, and especially for supporting Tracy’s efforts.

  2. Lea Bullen

    Hi Marquita,

    This is a really incredible story. It’s really horrible what Huey went through but it’s really nice to see a beneficial program has been born from it.

    I’m glad Tracy allowed you to share her story. It’s really eye opening and should be done at many shelters around the country. This is a truly great thing.

    Lea Bullen recently posted…6 Remarkable Strategies To Put Your Past Behind YouMy Profile

  3. Dave

    Just as inspiring the second time around as it was the first 🙂 It is amazing how reading something a second or third time reveals things that you didn’t focus on the previous times. I am somebody. Those three little words are so empowering. Instead of leaving your dreams, ambitions, goals, and needs of the world to fall on the shoulders of others, it is enlightening when you realize you can be the one to make those things happen, when you choose to do so. Kudos to your niece and her inspiring story once again, it never gets old 🙂
    Dave recently posted…Opening NightMy Profile

  4. Sabrina Q.

    What a beautiful story about passion and life’s purpose. Thanks for sharing! I love the quote “Let today be the day you give up who you have been for who you can become.” I will be hanging this up in my office as a reminder every day. Thank you.
    Sabrina Q. recently posted…Texas Chili RecipeMy Profile

  5. Talk about resilient living – Huey is the poster child – or dog. Your niece is an incredible, big hearted person. Just shows how passion can drive someone to make a difference. Amazing story.
    Diane Howell Topkis recently posted…Unique Morning MagicMy Profile

  6. Mark

    Your niece is proof positive that there are most certainly guardian angels all about Marquita!

    What an incredible and much needed cause to take up and support! That little guy is quite a fighter! He’s survived so much! and it’s obvious that Tracy has the heart and soul of a giant! Who knows how much more much needed good will come out you then us sharing this incredibly awful situation! Of all the ways to both abuse animals (God’s creatures!) and make a buck!

    These two “dog bait” and “dog fighting” in my book anyway, have to be two of the lowest forms! It really makes you wonder about the true inner thoughts of individuals that gain some type of sick pleasure and financial benefit from participating in such credulity! Thanks so much for bringing some much needed attention to this barbaric activity M!
    Mark recently posted…How These Five So Called Best Friends Are Actually Sabotaging Your Chances For Long Term Success!My Profile

    • Glad you found value in the article Mark, and yes, I am very proud of my niece and her hard work … she is relentless with this mission! And you are so right about Huey. Before I met that little guy I was one of those people who avoided pit bulls – in part because there are a couple of guys with pit bulls who hang out at the park near where we live that seem to take great pleasure in terrorizing people walking their dogs. Logically I know the owners are the bad guys, but it’s hard to ignore all of the media stories about the breed. Now I also can see how sweet and loving they can be when treated properly. It’s been quite an eye-opener.

  7. I’m heartbroken, but also inspired. Thank you for sharing.
    Jessica Sweet recently posted…Get Inspired To Do Work You Love!My Profile

    • Thank you for taking the time to read Huey’s story Jessica. I realize there’s a downside to sharing this problem, but as you point out the story and work being carried out to save other animals from the same fate is truly inspiring.

  8. Suzie Cheel

    Thank you for sharing Tracy’s story , I fell in love with Huey too that face. So inspirational.
    Suzie Cheel recently posted…Reigniting My Creative SpiritMy Profile

    • I agree with you Suzie, Huey’s quite the charmer. Tracy posted a new image of him on their Facebook page over the weekend where he’s just staring at her face like he’s trying to communicate with her it is so amazing, and just a tad creepy. 🙂

  9. Kimba

    Huey’s story made me cry (and Marty you know I’m not a crier!) and recall the happy years we had with our rescued mutt Taz – who left us last years after 13 wonderful years in our family. We now still have our rescued cat – Bonz – who makes us laugh every day (she is certifiable, but lovable). Rescued best friends are indeed the best.
    Kimba recently posted…Midlife Swagger: We All Deserve An AnthemMy Profile

  10. Marla

    Great story Marty – it goes to show how powerful it is when we figure out what we’re prepared to take a stand for, and then actually take action. Everyday hero indeed!
    Marla recently posted…Solo Travel Feeds the Soul of an Introvert MomMy Profile

  11. Tracy is one of the most remarkable people I’ve ever read about, Huey is an amazing little soul, I love to follow what they do on a day to day and yet everyday I’m more amazed at the strength of Huey and the love and dedication of Tracy and all those that help keep Huey going. They both have created one of the most beautiful love stories. The way you worded this experience just melts my heart, they both deserve all the attention and followers they are getting.
    Keep doing what you do Tracy and Huey, we all will do the little we can do. I know every little goes a long way…
    Araceli Marino recently posted…Do You Believe You Can Change?My Profile

    • Thank you so much for taking the time to contribute to the conversation Araceli and for supporting Huey and Tracy’s work. They are both remarkable and I couldn’t be prouder of the work she is doing.

  12. Chelsey Novak says:

    Thank you for this beautiful article. I have been blessed in knowing Tracy for almost 30 years and every day her spirit is more and more loving. I had the pleasure of meeting spunky Huey last weekend-what an absolute love!

    I am so proud of you Tracy!

    • Thank you for taking the time to stop by and contribute to the conversation Chelsey. I know Tracy truly values the support and love she’s experienced from you and others in Huey’s fan club. 🙂

  13. Lesley Haskell says:

    This is a beautiful tribute to a beautiful person. The true heroes of the world are people like Tracy. Not athletes, not celebrities, but those who help the helpless with no expectation of compensation other than purrs and wet doggy kisses. I’ve been following the Huey story almost from the beginning and I feel like he belongs to all of us who have been. He’s such an inspiration. I would rather meet him in person than ANY athlete or celebrity!

  14. Dave

    This entire story and its participants (both canine and human) epitomize the concept of resiliency. It is both a sad, yet happy story to hear and share. Sad to realize just how insensitive people can be towards the value of a life. And certainly happy to see how individuals are able to look beyond and overcome those limitations to make such a profound impact on society and most importantly, on another life.

    Extremely well presented Marty, thank you so much for sharing such a heartwarming and inspiring story. And as a side note, it is supremely ironic that we have called upon the same quote from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in our latest offerings 😉
    Dave recently posted…Choice wordsMy Profile

    • Thanks for your kind words Dave. Ironically Tracy was a bit reluctant to share her story because as I mentioned in the article she didn’t think anyone would be interested in it, but I think the support she’s already received with her efforts to help Huey show that there are many people who do care. 🙂

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