Saturday, June 18, 2011
A Dog Named Smoky
Smoky was a very special dog heroine of World War II, and the most amazing thing about her was that she only weighed 4 pounds! Smoky didn't start out to be a war dog, but a soldier found her in a foxhole in the jungle of New Guinea in 1944. Then he sold her to an American Air Force PFC named Bill Wynne for a couple of Australian pounds, which was $6.44 in American money. And the reason he sold the dog was because he was in the middle of a poker game, and he needed some money so he could keep playing.
When Private Wynne first bought Smoky, he didn't even know what kind of dog she was, but then he saw a picture of the breed in a National Geographic magazine, and that's how he found out she was a Yorkshire Terrier.
Anyway, Private Wynne started training Smoky right away. He taught her a bunch of basic obedience stuff, and then he started teaching her all kinds of tricks. Smoky was smart, and she learned fast. All together, Smoky was with the 5th Air Force, 26th Photo Recon Squadron for 18 months. She and her dad flew 12 combat air/sea rescue and photo recon missions. They survived typhoons, kamikaze attacks, and lots of other yucky stuff.
Smoky had to live in the New Guinea jungle and the Rock Islands, where it was really hot and humid. She slept with her dad in a tent, on a blanket made out of a green felt card table cover. She ate C-rations and sometimes Spam. She didn't get medical care or a special doggy diet, like the "real" war dogs did, but she stayed healthy, and she ran on coral for four months without getting sore paws. The Yank Down Under Magazine gave Smoky an award for being the "Best Mascot in the South Pacific."
One time, when the troops were working on an airfield taxi strip, Smoky did a really heroic thing to help out. She went through a pipe that was 70 feet long, 8 inches in diameter, and partly full of dirt, pulling a string that was attached to some very important phone wires. It only took her a few minutes to do this, but if the men had had to dig up the pipe to put in the wires, it would have taken at least 3 days of hard and dangerous work out in the open.
Besides being a heroic war dog, Smoky was also the very first therapy dog ever, at least according to research done by Animal Planet. Smoky started her therapy career in July, 1944, when she went with some of the nurses at the 233rd Station Hospital in New Guinea to visit the wounded soldiers that were coming in from the Biak Island invasion.
At the end of the war, Smoky went home with her dad to Cleveland. While they were on the ship, she had to hide in an oxygen mask carrying case, but as soon as they got home, Smoky became famous, because her picture and story were in the Cleveland Press.
For the next 10 years, Mr. Wynne took Smoky all around the country to entertain people with her tricks. She was able to do really clever things, such as walking on a tightrope while blindfolded. There was a Cleveland TV show that Smoky was on a lot, and it was called Castles in the Air. Back in those days, TV shows were live, and not taped, which meant you had to do stuff right the first time. Anyway, Smoky did 42 TV shows without ever repeating a trick! And another thing she did was she visited lots of veterans' hospitals to entertain the patients there.
I am sad to say that on February 21, 1957, Smoky died. She was about 14 years old by that time. Mr. Wynne and his family buried Smoky in a World War II .30 caliber ammo box in Cleveland Metroparks, Rocky River Reservation, in Lakewood, Ohio.
A bronze sculpture of Smoky was placed exactly over her grave on Veterans Day, November 11, 2005. The monument is dedicated to "Smoky, Yorkie Doodle Dandy, and Dogs of All Wars."
Not too long ago, William Wynne wrote a book about Smoky and all her adventures. The name of the book is Yorkie Doodle Dandy: A Memoir: Or the Other Woman Was a Real Dog. You can buy this book at Amazon.com and probably some other places, too. I told Mom we should buy it, but she said we are way behind in reading all the other books we have, so she is not going to buy it, even though it is probably a very interesting book.