ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) – Mandi Smith’s 5-month-old puppy disappeared from the family’s Fort Campbell, Ky., yard 18 months ago. So when Smith got a call saying Pooka had turned up in northern New Mexico, she says she was more than a little surprised.
“At first I thought someone was playing a trick on me,” the 26-year-old Smith said Wednesday, adding that she played the voicemail from the Espanola Valley Humane Society more than once.
“I thought I’d never see her again.”
But it was no joke. The now 2-year-old Chihuahua-dachshund mix, also known as a “chiweenie,” was found wandering the streets in Espanola on Jan. 12. She was traced back to her military family by a microchip that Smith says had been installed just days before she went missing.
Smith and the dog were reunited Wednesday at Albuquerque’s airport.
Surrounded by cameras and reporters, it was unclear if Pooka recognized Smith. But she clearly looked content to be snuggled in her arms.
Pooka has been staying with a foster mom, Melanie Lopez, who brought the dog to the airport for the reunion. Also on hand was Claudia Inoue, a Santa Fe animal lover who donated Southwest Airlines frequent flier awards to Lopez. Southwest Airlines waived the $75 fee for Smith to carry the dog home on the plane.
Smith says she had Pooka for just four months when she disappeared after the family let her out to do her business.
“I don’t know if she got out through a hole in the fence or what,” Smith said.
Smith planned to head straight back to Kentucky, where she said the now full-grown dog would be welcomed into a much larger household.
With Pooka missing, Smith got two new dogs, a German Shepherd and a German Shepherd mix, because “I was depressed.”
And Smith recently gave birth to a fourth child.
Nina Stively, community outreach manager at the Espanola Valley Humane Society, said Pooka had recently given birth herself and was still nursing when she was found. Attempts to find her puppies were unsuccessful.
The rest of the dog’s story and how she traveled more than 1,220 miles to New Mexico, however, will likely forever remain a mystery.
“I have no idea,” she said. “And she’s not talking.”
Follow Jeri Clausing on Twitter at
(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
- The Pac-12 football season nears kickoff
- Tips to get ready for a pain-free golf season
- Protect your family with these 7 home security features
- How to train like an Olympic swimmer
- 2016 Olympics: A guide to must-see TV events
- The bride's guide to feeling your best on your wedding day
- Deciding when you need knee surgery
- Celebrating Fourth of July is much cooler in these AZ towns
- Top ten road trip bathrooms in America
- Six things causing a pain in your neck
- 5 things to make your summer move easier
- Three elements of a strong timeshare exit guarantee
- Stretches and exercises for carpal tunnel syndrome
- The best Major League ballparks have their own personality
- Comparing the best regular seasons: The '96 Bulls and '16 Warriors
- 3 Arizona road trips and the vehicles to get you there
- Colon cancer is preventable. Check these signs and symptoms to stay healthy.
- 6 of the biggest skin cancer myths
- Affordable small home makeover ideas
- Locals helping locals: 6 success stories you need to know about
- Sunscreen facts that could save your life
- 6 energy saving hacks for your home
- 5 tips for choosing a company to end your timeshare
- Overlooked water tips to save you money
- 5 of the most adored gentlemen in professional sports today
- The real danger of sitting at your desk
- Most surprising NBA playoff performances of the last 40 years
- 11 classic baseball movies you must see again
- Finally getting rid of fat: 3 methods that actually work
- 4 reasons cancer survivors should focus on food