“I saw his little face and plethora of medical records and my heart broke,” Kristina Helfer told People.
That was the end of one chapter and the beginning of another for a very old, very ill Chihuahua named Tito.
Because of nerve damage, Tito couldn’t walk. He had a tumor and his trachea had collapsed, and at 15 he had left the healthy, energetic puppy years far behind him.
He had an owner, but they had to be hospitalized. That left the elderly Chihuahua to fend for himself.
But who would want a broken-down dog? Who would be able to look at the ragged little 6-pound body and see love and hope instead of just dollar signs and sure heartbreak?
Helfer. Already a dog mom to two pit bulls, she couldn’t help herself and took him in.
The size difference between Tito and the two other dogs, Piper and Frank, is huge. They could easily step on him or accidentally hurt him — but they’re both gentle, careful dogs.
Especially Frank. Helfer even calls him “Nurse Frank” because of how intuitive he is with other dogs, and how kind he is to them.
Tito and Frank have a special bond. Frank often curls up next to the Chihuahua, and Tito licks the pit bull’s paws in thanks.
Because Tito is immobile, he can’t get out to do one of a dog’s favorite things in life: go out! Frank’s got him covered there, too.
Outfitted with a special pack that has Tito-sized pockets, Frank lets Tito hitch a ride so that everyone can go out together. The two seem pretty happy with the arrangement, especially if their outing destination involves food — which it often does.
Helfer is trying to make Tito’s life as fun as possible. “We are trying to do all the bucket list items we can think of,” she said.
So far they’ve gone to cafes, beaches and ice cream shops, with little Tito tucked in and secure in his friend Frank’s pack.
The world has fallen in love with the adorable duo and their story of friendship. Helfer is planning a big celebration for Tito’s 16th birthday, which is on September 14.
She’s selling tickets and making it an event, hoping to raise money to fund other hospice fosters who hate to see elderly dogs dwindling away in shelters but don’t have the expendable income to do something about it.
Tito may not have a lot of time left, but with the help of Helfer and Frank, they’re going to make his last days his best ones.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.