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Woman Finds Sick, Skinny Dog On Street — And Knows Just What To Do

“I absolutely believe she knew she’d been rescued ... She looked at me with a constant thankfulness."

When rescuers found the dog, she was sickly, nervous and in desperate need of a good meal. She needed help — and quickly.

In May 2017, the dog had started turning up at a local school in Panajachel, Guatemala, begging the students for food.

Emaciated street dog
Ayuda Para la Salud de Perros y Gatos

“According to the students, she was shy and skittish for the first few visits,” Selaine d'Ambrosi, president and director of Ayuda Para la Salud de Perros y Gatos, an organization that helps dogs and cats in Guatemala, told The Dodo. “However, with kind hands and some decent food, she relaxed enough to be touched.”

But a few handouts of food weren’t going to be enough to save this dog, who would eventually be named Princesa Sofia. The dog quickly declined, getting weaker and weaker.

Emaciated street dog
Ayuda Para la Salud de Perros y Gatos

One student, an 11th-grader named Celine Boissy, contacted Ayuda Para la Salud de Perros y Gatos and asked if a rescue team could help the starving dog.

The team arrived as quickly as possible and caught Princesa Sofia. Then they got her to the vet. Besides being emaciated, Princesa Sofia had a bad case of mange, skin lesions, wounds and deep scars around her neck, which had probably been from a rope being tied around her neck.

Street dog curled up in bed
Ayuda Para la Salud de Perros y Gatos

At a local vet hospital, staff did what they could to help Princesa Sofia, but she still had a long way to go to fully recover. Andie Olive, a volunteer for Ayuda Para la Salud de Perros y Gatos, stepped in and offered to foster Princesa Sofia. Olive also made an unusual request — she wanted to treat Princesa Sofia with alternative medicine.

“We all agreed to give it a try,” d'Ambrosi said. “Andie is a trusted volunteer and foster care giver.”

Rescued street dog in kennel
Ayuda Para la Salud de Perros y Gatos

But Princesa Sofia wasn’t too sure about going home with Olive at first.

“She was terrified and defensive,” Olive told The Dodo. “But after 24 hours of food and kindness, she started to bond with me and allow me to apply balms to some of her wounds.”

Rescued street dog in cardboard box
Ayuda Para la Salud de Perros y Gatos

Olive treated Princesa Sofia with moringa, fish oil capsules and pineapple cider vinegar, and also fed her a healthy diet — and Olive quickly saw an improvement.

“For the first three days, she was so mellow and quiet, albeit obsessively looking for food crumbs in my kitchen,” Olive said. “Around day four, she started to come back to life, making more eye contact, seeking affection and wanting to go for walks.”

Rescued street dog in kennel
Ayuda Para la Salud de Perros y Gatos

Soon, Olive fell head over heels in love with Princesa Sofia, and Princess Sofia became devoted to Olive.

“By her second week, she was the most adoring, eager-to-please friend I could have asked for,” Olive said. “She was quick to learn commands and wanted to follow me everywhere. She had zero aggression towards other animals or women and children, though she was quite defensive around men with ball caps.”

Girl with rescue dog
Olive with Princesa Sofia | Ayuda Para la Salud de Perros y Gatos

The pair grew so close, it was hard for Olive to part with Princesa Sofia.

“I absolutely believe she knew she’d been rescued,” Olive said. “After she started to come back to life, she looked at me with a constant thankfulness and a desire to please. I’ve never had a harder time parting with a foster animal.”

Rescue dog with pink harness
Princesa Sofia after fully recovering | Ayuda Para la Salud de Perros y Gatos

But both Olive and d'Ambrosi were delighted when the perfect family stepped forward and asked to adopt Princesa Sofia.

“A local family was looking for a new family member after their old dog passed,” d'Ambrosi said. “The entire family adores her. She loves her laundry basket bed and her stuffed toys.”

To help Ayuda Para la Salud de Perros y Gatos rescue and provide medical care to more dogs like Princesa Sofia in Guatemala, you can make a donation.