Anyone who comes to SMU in Taos soon gets to know the two fort dogs, Duke and Blanca.
Both dogs were walk-ons to the campus years ago. The caretaker, Joaquin Martinez, adopted them and nursed them back from neglect resulting from their homelessness. Duke is mostly boxer and is very friendly. He even escorts the students on hikes up to the ridge behind the fort. Duke is very good at sniffing out field mice who take up residence in the student’s casitas. Duke has a touch of thievery in his system, as he once ran off with a hiking boot left out on the library porch. There was no hiking until the shoe was eventually located across the fort compound. Duke is such a busy dog…. he has to rest…
Blanca appeared on campus with a broken rope around her neck. She also required tender loving care to calm and reassure her. It is believed that she is part wolf. She can be heard howling with that eerie lonely pitch that we all associate with the wilderness.
She and Duke team up to be effective hunters. While they know better than to tangle with mountain lions and bears that inhabit the hills and ridges around the fort, they do keep the wild animals at a distance from the campus.