WICHITA FALLS, Texas - Bruce Martin was watching movies in the middle of the night when he suffered a massive heart attack. His dog Clyde nudged him and, getting no response, trotted into the bedroom to awaken Bruce's wife, Mitch.
The Martins believe that Clyde, a 5-year-old pit bull/golden retriever mix, saved Bruce's life.
"Clyde's my insomnia buddy. He'd stay up with me while I was watching movies at 3 in the morning," said Martin, still recovering from the Feb. 11 collapse and subsequent bypass surgery. "That particular night I got up to cross the room and had the heart attack. I was unconscious, and when he couldn't get me to respond, he went to get Mitch."
"It took him two tries, but he led me to the living room," Mitch said. "That's where I found Bruce slumped over the back of the couch."
The couple said that shortly before Bruce's heart attack they had lost both a boxer and a cat from heart failure. Clyde, always close to Martin, seemed especially attentive.
When Martin, a lawyer, awoke after his collapse and surgery, Clyde was among his first visitors.
"It was such an incredible experience. So many people, attorneys, judges, people who have known and worked with Bruce all these years came to the hospital to visit him," Mitch said. "Knowing they cared so much meant a lot to us."
"I know a few of them came to see if I really was alive," Martin said, chuckling. "Rumors of my death had been sort of exaggerated."
Martin, 60, proudly shows how surgeons skillfully rejoined the gecko tattoo on his chest that had to be cut in two for the lifesaving bypass procedure.
With the help of physical, speech and occupational therapists, he is getting better. And throwing a tennis ball to Clyde helps strengthen his arms.
"Right now I'm up to walking up and down the driveway eight times, which is kind of a big thing," he said, scratching his buddy behind the ears. "But what I'm really looking forward to is taking Clyde for a walk around the block."