Her expressive brown eyes protected by what looks like a swim mask and her feet in blue booties, Frida—a 10-year-old yellow Lab—sat obligingly for the camera. After nine years as a member of the Mexican navy’s canine and urban SAR unit, she’s retiring, but instead of a gold watch, her reward is a new chew toy.
A veteran SAR dog, Frida’s credited with finding more than 50 people, 12 of them alive, during her career. In 2017, as she searched for survivors in the rubble of a Mexico City school that collapsed in a 7.1 magnitude earthquake, a tweet from the Mexican navy put her on the map—or rather, on the Twitterverse. While she wasn’t the only SAR dog on the job, she became the face of the rescue effort.
In no time, Frida went viral. On social media, people shared their Frida tattoos, knitted figures (complete with mask), piñatas, drawings, even a 500 peso bill on which her photo had been Photoshopped in place of the “other” Frida’s.
A symbol of hope and what can be accomplished by working together, Frida and her handler, Israel Arauz Salinas, were commemorated with a bronze statue installed in Puebla, Mexico, the following year.
In retirement, we understand, Frida will have a far more laid-back life as part of the Salinas family. Like all SAR dogs everywhere, she’s more than earned it.