**** VISUAL LEDE **** March 17, 2019 Atlanta: Atlanta United forward Josef Martinez makes a bicycle kick between Philadelphia Union defenders Auston Trusty and Jack Elliott that was blocked by goalkeeper Andre Blake during the second half in a MLS soccer match that ended in a 1-1 draw on Sunday, March 17, 2019, in Atlanta. Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com
Photo: ccompton@ajc.com/Curtis Compton
Photo: ccompton@ajc.com/Curtis Compton

Atlanta United’s Martinez, his dog are happily reunited

Josef Martinez loves his dog Hachiko so much that he has a tattoo of the dog’s paw print over his heart.

“He’s my kid,” Martinez said Wednesday.

So, when the 4-year-old Chocolate Lab went missing earlier this week, a post on social media and the ensuing shares and retweets helped find the dog and reunite him with his owner Tuesday.

“I don’t know exactly the name of the person who found him, but thank you to her,” he said. “My dog is a like a son to me.” 

Josef Martinez posted this photo of himself and Hachiko, one of his two dogs.

Martinez has had Hachiko, which also is the name of a famous Akita in Japanese history, since he played in Italy. When Martinez came to Atlanta United on loan in 2017, he brought Hachiko with him.

Martinez said Hachiko was missing for 1-1/2 days.

“I think he was looking for a girl,” Martinez joked.

Martinez said a friend created a poster and put it on Facebook. It was picked up and shared on Twitter, quickly getting more than 200 likes in a short time.

Hachiko’s tag had come off, making it difficult for anyone looking to know if he was Martinez’s dog. But the pair were reunited within a few hours.

“I was calm the whole time that we were going to find him,” he said. “Luckily we are in the U.S. If we were in another country, something bad could happen.”

Martinez shared last year that he loves children and dogs. 

“They see you for who you really are,” he said last year.

He talked Wednesday how much he loves his niece and his two dogs.

“My friends and family love them more than they love me,” he said.

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