‘Her Bark Always Gave Hope’: Mexican Rescue Dog Frida Retires

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FILE – In this Sept. 28, 2017 file photo, Frida, one of three Marine dogs specially trained to search for people trapped inside collapsed buildings, wears her protective gear during a press event in Mexico City. Frida, a yellow Labrador retriever, retired Monday, June 24, 2019, from rescue work nearly two years after gaining international fame for searching for survivors in the rubble of a deadly 2017 earthquake in Mexico City. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell, File)

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After participating in 53 rescue operations, saving a dozen lives and finding over 40 bodies in disaster zones, Frida, the beloved yellow Labrador retriever from Mexico’s Navy unit, has retired.

The Mexican navy celebrated the canine’s contributions by honoring her in a ceremony on Monday, as part of the International Rescuers Day.

“Her bark always gave hope, and in moments of pain and uncertainty she brought relief,” said Deputy Naval Minister Eduardo Redondo.

The 65 pound and 10-year-old dog was part of rescue operations not only in Mexico but also in Ecuador and Haiti in 2010, after the deadly earthquake in Port-au-Prince. But it wasn’t until September 2017 that she gained international recognition on social media after the Mexican navy posted a video of her. 

In September 2017 two devastating earthquakes shook Mexico just days apart. The second one, on Sept. 19, killed more than 300 people, including 205 in Mexico City, and caused many structures to collapse. Frida assisted in rescue efforts in both disasters that month.

Wearing goggles and neoprene booties, Frida accompanied first responders looking for the children that perished in a school in Mexico City during the earthquake. The images traveled the world and became a trending topic to the point that celebrities like actor Chris Evans shared the video saying “What did we do to deserve dogs?”

Even though she didn’t rescue anyone during the aftermath of the earthquake in Mexico City, first responders agreed that Frida gave hope to people in the country and people watching the disaster from afar. 

“In social terms, this dog functioned like a transitional object because maybe she didn’t help us in anything real or concrete — meaning she didn’t rescue anyone — but she let us feel like there was hope and that there were things that could help us,” Fátima Laborda, a psychoanalyst and director of Casa Grana, a psychological assistance and research organization, told The Associated Press at the time.

Now, her gear has been hung up and members of the Mexican navy awarded their canine fellow with a chew toy for her to play in her upcoming phase.

Frida is expected to move to the countryside and help in the training of the rescue dogs next generation, according to Mexican authorities.

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