Friday, June 14, 2013

Fido Feature: Smoky the Yorkie Doodle Dandy

Even though I'm a certified cat lady of the highest order, I also adore dogs and enjoy giving them equal time on my blog. (Just don't tell Tara.) Over the weekend I was watching a show called Monumental Mysteries on the Travel Channel and was introduced to a famous Yorkshire Terrier named Smoky. This little four-legged war hero's story so touched my heart I immediately googled her and was thrilled to discover a book has been written about her!

For those of you (like me) who had never heard of the Yorkie Doodle Dandy, here's a little more about her:

Smoky, a Yorkshire Terrier, was a famous war dog who served in World War II. She weighed only four pounds and stood seven inches tall. Smoky is credited with beginning a renewal of interest in the once obscure Yorkshire Terrier breed.

In February 1944, Smoky was found by an American soldier in an abandoned foxhole in the New Guinea jungle. She was already a young adult Yorkie (fully grown). The soldiers initially thought the small dog belonged to the Japanese, but after taking her to a nearby prisoner-of-war camp they realized she did not understand commands in Japanese or English. Another GI then sold Smoky to Corporal William A. Wynne of Cleveland, Ohio, for two Australian pounds (equal to $6.44 at that time)—the price paid to the seller so he could return to his poker game.

For the next two years, Smoky back-packed through the rest of the war and accompanied Wynne on combat flights in the Pacific. She faced adverse circumstances, living in the New Guinea jungle and Rock Islands, suffering the primitive conditions of tents in equatorial heat and humidity. Throughout her service, Smoky slept in Wynne's tent on a blanket made from a green felt card table cover; she shared Wynne's C-rations and an occasional can of Spam. Unlike the “official” war dogs of World War II, Smoky had neither medical care nor a balanced diet formulated especially for dogs. In spite of this, Smoky was never ill. She even ran on coral for four months without developing any of the paw ailments that plagued some war dogs.

As described by Wynne, "Smoky Served in the South Pacific with the 5th Air Force, 26th Photo Recon Squadron [and] flew 12 air/sea rescue and photo reconnaissance missions." On those flights, Smoky spent long hours dangling in a soldier's pack near machine guns used to ward off enemy fighters. Smoky was credited with twelve combat missions and awarded eight battle stars. She survived 150 air raids on New Guinea and made it through a typhoon at Okinawa. Smoky even jumped from a 30-foot tower with a specially made parachute. Wynne credited Smoky with saving his life by warning him of incoming shells on an LST (transport ship), calling her an "angel from a foxhole." As the ship deck was booming and vibrating from anti-aircraft gunnery, Smoky guided Wynne to duck the fire that hit 8 men standing next to them.

In the down time, Smoky learned numerous tricks, which she performed for the entertainment of troops with Special Services and in hospitals from Australia to Korea. According to Wynne, Smoky taught him as much as he taught her, and she developed a repertoire beyond that of any dog of her day. In 1944, Yank Down Under magazine named Smoky the "Champion Mascot in the Southwest Pacific Area."

Smoky's tricks enabled her to become a hero in her own right by helping engineers to build an airbase at Lingayen Gulf, Luzon, a crucial airfield for Allied war planes. Early in the Luzon campaign, the Signal Corps needed to run a telegraph wire through a 70-foot long pipe that was eight inches in diameter. Soil had sifted through the corrugated sections at the pipe joining, filling as much as half of the pipe, giving Smoky only four inches of headway in some places.

Smoky’s work prevented the need to move 40 United States fighter and reconnaissance planes while a construction detail dug up the taxiway, which would have placed them in peril of destruction by enemy bombings. What would have been a three-day digging task to place the wire was instead completed by this little dog in minutes.

At the end of World War II, Wynne brought Smoky back to Cleveland to live with his family. For the long flight to the United States, Smoky was hidden in an altered flight oxygen mask carrying case. Upon their return, Wynne and Smoky were featured in a page one story with photographs, in the Cleveland Press on December 7, 1945.

Smoky soon became a national sensation. Over the next 10 years Smoky and Wynne traveled to Hollywood and all over the world to perform demonstrations of her remarkable skills, which included walking a tightrope -- while blindfolded! She appeared with Wynne on some of the earliest TV shows in the Cleveland area, including a show of their own on Cleveland's WKYC Channel 3 called Castles in the Air, featuring some of Smoky’s unbelievable tricks. Smoky performed in 42 live-television shows without ever repeating a trick. Smoky and Wynne were also very popular entertainers at the veterans' hospitals. On February 21, 1957, "Corporal" Smoky died unexpectedly at the approximate age of 14.

* Biography courtesy of Wikipedia and photos are copyrighted by Smoky's owner, Wm. A. Wynne.


Chick Lit Cafe said...

Oh my goodness - this is quite an accomplished little doggie! And just look at that face! Thanks for sharing this fun little nugget of history. :)

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