Meet the Survivors: Lui

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Written by Becky Monroe

Meet Luis or Lui for short!

It was a fateful, quick decision when Nancy saw a puppy mill survivor in immediate need posted by HavaHeart Rescue. She and her husband had only been volunteers of HavaHeart a few weeks but she knew she needed to help.

Their Shih Tzu, Taz who was rescued from APA, had crossed Rainbow Bridge a month earlier and Nancy felt like it would be good start fostering because they wanted another dog soon. It was also during the pandemic and they felt like it was a perfect time to have a dog in their lives.

Lui, named to honor his Cuban roots, was listed as a purebred Havanese by the breeder. He was a little over 2 years old when he was rescued from the mill as a breeder release.

Eventually, Nancy would have a DNA test done on Lui only to find that he was actually:

      • 42% Havanese
      • 15% Chihuahua
      • 15% Shih Tzu
      •  13% Basset Fauve de Bretagne

She thought it was interesting that a breeder would list Lui as a purebred Havanese when that wasn’t the case at all. 

They agreed to take Lui in as a foster, but had never taken in a puppy mill survivor before and had no idea what to expect.

Lui came to them on a Sunday evening.

He was terrified.

His crate was full of vomit.

His coat was nasty and shaved down to his skin and he smelled awful.

It was as though he had never been bathed his whole life. But, as Nancy said, “He was free.”

She described how he stared at them from his crate just trembling with fear. As they took him from the crate and placed him on the grass, his little paws were rough and sore and his eyes were so sad and vacant.

They were amazed when they realized he had no idea what grass was. He just kept lifting his paws off of it.

For the longest time, Lui refused to eat out of a bowl and would only eat if the kibble was placed directly on the floor.

Nancy had dogs all of her life, but never one like Lui. He was so unlike any dog she had experienced.

Lui is full of love and is eager to be the best dog he can be, but he has so many fears. People, noise, other dogs, cars and wheels all scare him.

At first, the outside and the grass overwhelmed him, but now he loves to run zoomies around the yard.

Nancy and her family have tried numerous things to help Lui acclimate to normal dog life. They tried dog parks to help him socialize, but they didn’t pan out. He went to a training facility to learn to be around other dogs without fear and that helped some. He is also on Fluoxetine (doggy prozac) and wears a sentry calming collar- both of which Nancy believe have helped him cope. 

Lui was made an official part of their family only a month after they began fostering him and he has now been living a beautiful life for almost a year and a half.

He has traveled with them to the Smokies and to Northern Michigan. And, he has flown twice to Florida to enjoy the beach life. He is a great traveler!

While Lui has presented them with challenges, they have learned new ways to manage. He has taught them to be quick, to be aware and to try and channel their inner canine to help him learn, accept and love other humans in return. 

What do you think Lui would want to tell other humans?

“Lui is sweet. First, he would say, ’Thank you’ with a lick and a look with his huge brown eyes. He would then ask for humans to be patient and quiet so he can learn and absorb all he can. Lastly, he would ask that they just love him back like he wants to love them.”

Lui is learning to accept people, so he can join Nancy on spreading the truth about puppy mill atrocities. She said, “People are shocked when they see his before and after pictures.”

Lui will make a heartwarming little billboard to show the truth about puppy mills and pet stores. Not to mention the reality of canine registries. Far from a purebred Havanese – Lui is what most of us would call a mutt!

A lovable mutt for certain!

Nancy ended with, “We love Lui and are so proud of how far he has come. We are along for the journey and are happy to know he is all ours.”

Welcome to your new life Lui – sounds like you won the lottery! 

**Just a reminder – if you would like to share your Mill Survivor’s story with our supporters, I would love to publish it on Tails and Truths! Just email me at**