The debate over pet superiority – cats or dogs – has existed for years. Cats are furry, yes, and they’ll blink up at you with their wide eyes while meowing pitifully for their food; they have their own cuteness factor, and it’s not hard to see why people might choose them for their pets.
Dogs, however, are almost human souls on four legs. Their sense of loyalty knows no bounds, they can provide comfort whenever they’re needed, and their energy levels are through the roof. Plus, when have cats ever searched through rubble to find people in natural disasters?
Meet Frida, a seven-year-old yellow Labrador working with the Mexican Navy. Dressed in her own custom-made doggy goggles and boots, Frida has been working with relief workers and a canine unit to locate bodies in piles of rubble following the earthquakes in Mexico City and Oaxaca. She works with 14 other rescue dogs; together, they are working to sift through the destruction caused by the earthquakes.
So far, she has managed to locate over 52 bodies – more than any other Mexican rescue dog. One of her saves included that of a Juchitan police officer – and she’s not done yet. In fact, according to Captain Armando Segura, while Frida’s record of saves may be high, the total tally has not yet been counted, since Frida is still out looking through collapsed buildings.
“It’s a source of pride to work with Frida,” says Israel Arauz, who’s been Frida’s handler for two years. “She’s a very, very special dog.”
Frida’s accomplishments have gotten her widespread social media attention. Her likeness has supposedly made its way onto a man’s arm as a tattoo, and the hashtag #TodosSomosFrida on Twitter is filled with tweets lauding the rescue dog. Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto was one of the admirers, tweeting, “She is Frida, belongs to the canine unit of the @SEMAR_mx and has saved more than 50 lives in various natural disasters.”
Someone has even proposed the idea of replacing the face on the 500-peso note – currently painter Diego Rivera – with Frida instead. It hasn’t happened, but should Frida rescue enough people, she could take her place in history along some of the greatest humans in Mexican history.
Unfortunately, Frida can’t be out saving lives forever. She only has about a year left before her olfactory senses are expected to decline. At that point, she will be allowed to retire and will spend the rest of her life living happily with Arauz. Yet, even when she is sniffing at her dinner instead of at collapsed stone, Frida will still be a hero to many.
Perhaps that is the best part about Frida: she could represent hope in the aftermath of all of the destruction in Mexico City. Promotional videos show her paddling around in her boots like a literal ray of sunshine – if sunshine could be seen detecting people trapped underneath collapsed buildings. In a world where there are so many instances of doom, death, and destruction, an animal as kind and as loyal as Frida being recognized for saving lives is a beacon to treasure for a long time.
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