Tom Sharpe, The New Mexican
Posted: Friday, April 13, 2012
Chief Mike got Smokey, "the hospice dog," back.
Mike Martinez's students had given him the blue heeler puppy in late January when he retired from teaching martial arts due to health issues that have caused damage to his intestines, kidneys, liver and heart.
"My life here is finite," he said as he hugged 4-month-old Smokey. "They've already told me I have a definite time and I got him just to make that time longer. I just need him to make me last longer. I'm not done with what I have to do here."
Martinez, 65, is known as "Chief Mike" for his former chain saw repair shops on Second Street and Sawmill Road. He has taught at the New Mexico Tae Kwon Do Institute, coached Little League and volunteered for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northern New Mexico.
Late Wednesday morning, Martinez drove from his home south of Santa Fe off N.M. 14 to Industrial Road, off Siler Road, in his 1983 Mercedes that, he says, has more than 1 million miles on it.
Martinez said he thought he left all five of his dogs in the car when he went inside a shop to talk to a friend, but when he returned, there were only four. He figured Smokey, the smallest, had squeezed through a partly opened window, so he went up and down the street, over fences and into arroyos, screaming "Smokey." Finally, he gave up, drove home and told his wife, Wendy, that Smokey was lost.
On Thursday morning, he came to The New Mexican to place a lost-dog ad in the paper, checked the animal shelter and made 200 lost-hospice-dog flyers. He said he twisted his ankle putting up flyers and was getting discouraged that he would ever find Smokey, but when he came home that evening, "there he was at the gate."
As it turned out, Smokey had been found at the Dusty Dog Ranch, about a mile from Martinez's home in the San Marcos area. Mary Kirst, owner of the "free-roam" dog-boarding place, said an employee noticed the puppy at the gate around 1 p.m. Wednesday.
"When I came back, I let him in and kept him overnight and called the Humane Society," Kirst said. "They said, 'Well, we have a [report of a lost] dog matching that description, but he was lost in town.' ...
"He may have just jumped out of the car and [Martinez] didn't notice it. There are dogs across the road from me that his dogs bark at. ... Dogs come to my gate all the time. They're attracted to the fact that there are other dogs here."
Martinez said he's just glad to have Smokey back.
"Yesterday, I was lost," he said Friday, breaking into tears. "I have to make him make me last 15 more years, at least. That's why he's so important to me. I had my whole life set on him."