Tracy Lystra runs an animal rescue that specializes in abuse cases, which is sadly how she first met Kringle.
After receiving a call for help with a badly injured dog on an abandoned street in Tijuana, Mexico, Lystra found a small puppy with its ears cut off and suffering from severe burns.
Lystra believes is was only out of sheer cruelty that someone would have treated an animal this way. A lab analysis later showed that the dog was a Cocker Spaniel, which makes it unlikely that he would have undergone an ear docking procedure. Further, after cutting off the dog’s ears, someone tried to set the animal on fire.
“My first thought is just to get them to me immediately so that I can get him into the emergency hospitals that we work with,” Lystra says. “I’ve had the pleasure over the last however many years of gathering a wonderful medical team with doctors and surgeons. One of the great surgeons that I’ve had the pleasure of meeting does wonderful work with burns. It’s just a matter of getting him here as quickly as possible.”
Lystra says Kringle was found on December 14, 2020. The emergency veterinarian team worked quickly to clean up Kringle’s wounds, but they were severe.
Early on in the operation, Kringle’s body reacted poorly to anesthesia. He was dead for a few moments.
“After his eyelid surgery, he was great and within 10 minutes totally crashed,” Lystra says. “They were able to perform CPR and bring him back that was under his first surgery. He had so much stacked against him, the poor little guy.”
Kringle underwent multiple surgeries over the course of 32 days, and was eventually transferred to a facility in Ontario, California, where other specialists could assist in the recovery.
“His eyelids were burned off,” Lystra says. “His eyes started to bulge and they were afraid he was going to lose his eyes. He had plastic surgery by a plastic surgeon who works on humans.”
Kringle faces a long and challenging healing process, but there’s no doubt he’s in the right hands.
“It probably took a good three months before Kringle actually came into my care,” Lystra says. “And he’s been with me ever since.”
Coming to a new home, Kringle was anxious at first. Lystra says he had bonded with some of the vet techs who helped in the recovery, and may have felt afraid coming into an environment where he didn’t recognize anyone.
“I remember that my husband had gone to pick him up because I was ill. He brought him upstairs to my bedroom and I just I couldn’t believe that he was finally home.” Lystra says. “He had made it through so much and was finally with me.”
“One of the vet techs made Kringle him a little sweater,” she adds. “He just looked so adorable, and by that evening, the two of us were just absolutely inseparable. And we remain so today.”
Kringle’s future is looking bright, all because of one special human, though Lystra admits this wasn’t always part of her plan.
“When I took Kringle on, like so many other animals I’ve worked with in the past, my goal was to rescue and rehabilitate and then rehome him,” Lystra says.
She recalls being told that it would be impossible to find a home for Kringle. It turns out, that didn’t matter.
“At that point I realized he needs to stay with me,” Lystra says.
Lystra says she hasn’t felt such a connection with an animal since losing the namesake of her foundation, Huey. Lystra grew up around rescue animals, and has worked with special needs animals abuse cases for years. Like Kringle, she also met Huey under tragic circumstances.
Huey was a pit bull that had been found about an hour from where Lystra was living at the time.
“it was absolutely heart breaking; the condition that he was in, mentally as well as physically.” Lystra says.
Huey wasn’t expected to survive. Lystra was told at the animal hospital that they could euthanize him or send him home and let him live out his last hours in comfort.
Lystra and her husband spent that night on the floor near Huey in his crate.
“The next morning I kind of saw a renewed energy in him,” Lystra says. “He really beat the odds, went on to become such a handsome boy and such an inspiration for a lot of people, myself included. It was at that time we decided to actually name the foundation in his honor, and primarily work with abused animals.”
Huey lived for two and a half more years before he passed. While Lystra has been a big help to Kringle’s healing, there’s no doubt he’s helped her see the positive side of life, too.
She now calls Kringle her “unlicensed therapy dog.”
“He goes everywhere with me and just seems to understand me and I understand him,” she says. “The pleasure has definitely been mine to take care of him and I look forward to many more years together.”
Lystra says it’s a joy to be with Kringle, but the responsibility still has difficult moments. There’s always the worry that Kringle could get injured and need anesthesia again.
So far, he’s only been getting stronger.
“Now, it’s just understanding that he’s different,” she says. “When I take him out, he gets a lot of tears. A lot of people want to pity him. We like to look at the positives. And certainly that’s not Kringle’s past, but it’s his future.”
Hear Kringle’s story in the video below and learn more about Kringle on his Instagram page.