November 11, 2019

Remember our service people – Remember our dogs

Over the past few weeks, you would have noticed kindly ladies and gentlemen selling red poppies outside shopping centres and in strips around your suburb or town. On Monday; 11th November @ 11:00 am we reflected on a minute silence, remembering our servicemen and women representing our country in conflicts abroad. Originally called Armistice Day, November 11th is still a national holiday in France and Belgium.

War history is littered with stories of heroism; a strange phenomenon, glorifying the act, however, what is not missed is the true heroism of many animals, dogs included; that worked on all sides of conflict contributing to the saving of human lives.

As we remember our servicemen and women let us not forget the dogs of war.

Smokey

Bill Wynne was an American soldier based in Papua New Guinea during world war II.  Whilst serving in the jungle he found and adopted a tiny Yorkshire terrier pup and named her smoky.

Shortly after Bill was sent to the Philippines tasked with the seemingly impossible mission of laying telephone wire underground between camps, enabling soldiers to communicate with each other. The pipe was only 20cm in circumference; too thin for a person to fit through, requiring men to dig and so exposing them to enemy attacks.

Little Smoky came to the rescue.  Bill tied the wire to Smokey and through a trust built between man and dog, Bill could coax Smoky through the pipe, out of sight, stealthily and silently.  Within a week Smoky had laid the required wires and the story goes that through her efforts the lives of 250 men were saved.

During this period Bill became sick and was transferred to a military hospital. Bill’s mates brought Smokey to him and it wasn’t long before the nurses had fallen for the little terrier, taking her for walks and visiting other injured soldiers. Just having her around lifted the moods and spirit of not just the wounded and ill but also the nurses and doctors.

Smoky became the first therapy dog and in 1947, over 700 dogs were donated to military hospitals around the country.  Smokey lived to a grand old age of 14. Simply beautiful.

 

 

Gunner

During WWII a stray Kelpie pup, suffering a broken leg, was adopted and nursed back to health by servicemen at Darwin Air Force Base. Named Gunner by the crew, he lived on base as a pet, Gunner began to recognise the sound of Japanese planes and associated the noise with danger. His hearing was so acute he could reputedly hear the planes 20-60mins before they arrived.

Gunner began looking to the sky; barking a warning when he heard the planes. This early warning gave the base extra time to prepare and defend themselves. His hearing was so accurate that the base leading aircraftmen, Percy Westcott was given permission to sound the air raid siren when Gunner began his barking.

Two charming stories illustrating the relationship between humans and dogs, even at the worse of times. It is the connections that stimulate and inspire our lives and connection to our pets is one of the more endearing and nourishing relationships we’ll experience.

This week, when remembering those that deserve remembering also remember the dogs and other animals that shared the pain, the companionship and the love.

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