Small Dog, Big Love

Pet Portrait by Carin Steen

Frankie, Acrylics on paper, 40 x 53 cm (©Carin Steen)

I absolutely LOVE dogs, but I admit that I'm not a big fan of Chihuahuas. A little too small, too fragile and too snappy for my taste.
Along came Frankie who stole everybody’s heart, including mine.

Frankie is a toy Chihuahua that was rescued from the coast of Guatemala. She was in a pretty bad shape. Somewhere between 3 and 5 years old, the poor thing was skinny and covered in ticks and fleas. A tremor in her right front paw and head are leftovers from canine distemper that she miraculously survived when she was only a pup, as the decay in her teeth reveal. The few teeth left were in terrible shape. Two of them were covered in rocks of tartar that made her cheeks look like a hamster’s. And on top of everything she tested positive for heart worm.

Worst of all: this poor dog had been used for BREEDING, despite her heartworm and distemper, just to make a quick buck. When she got too ill, she was discarded. Fortunately she was picked up by a lovely lady who had all the goodwill, but not the means to take care of her. Because of her lack of teeth, the dog can’t eat dry food, so the lady gave her soft bits of corn tortilla she got especially for her. The woman realised that the poor thing needed more specialised care and that’s why she gave the Chihuahua to my friend Francesca who is a bit of a serial dog rescuer. And that’s how I ended up fostering her at the home I stay in when I’m in Guatemala. All went well, except that we have failed at fostering, because this Chihuahua, Frankie, is not going anywhere anymore!

Thing is, Frankie is a hoot! She’s funny, mischievous, cute, cuddly and social. Loves people, adores her big sisters Chilli and Charlie and especially foster Jeanie who is about six times her size. Frankie is super playful and not at all clingy or snappy. She loves to go out on hikes, run in the field, chase and sniff. Until it gets dark. Then it’s lights out for her and she just wants to cuddle up on the sofa. What a delight to have around!

It’s been two months now since she first arrived and she is doing much, much better. She gained almost half her weight (from 3 lbs. to almost 6!) and now has lots of energy to play and explore. She’s on medication for heartworm which is quite complicated for a dog this small and not available in Guatemala. It was provided by our good friend and veterinarian Dr. Jim Bader, who has been monitoring her from a distance and sent her medication down. Another tricky part was her operation. She needed to be spayed and some of her teeth needed to be pulled. All vets involved agreed she didn’t need anaesthesia twice and that both procedures should take place before starting her second and more aggressive heartworm medication. Thanks to Unidos para los Animales, this risky surgery was done at Ortovet in Guatemala City and all went well. Frankie has completely recovered already. Hopefully after six more months of heart worm medication, she'll have a compete clean bill of health.

It really takes a village to save just one dog’s life. But what a joy to see her healthy and happy! Thanks a million to Francesca, Linda, Catherine, Jim, Unidos para los Animales

Jeanie and Frankie