In awe of the Yorkie Doodle Dandy
by Ken Carpenter
I stepped into the house a few months ago and came face to face with a bright eyed, two-pound stranger. Jezzibel is her name and love is her game. She is a Yorkshire Terrier, and was eagerly adopted by my wife at the age of four months.
Eager would not describe my demeanor at the turn of events, but in no time Jezzie had wrapped me around her furry, little paw. It took a bit longer for her to ingratiate herself with the other three dogs, but she accomplished that in record time too. I can honestly say that I have never met such a loveable creature.
Yorkshire Terriers were number three on the 2010 top ten list of most popular dog breeds in America. They are consistently near the top, which I can easily believe after meeting the captivating Jezzie.
The breed is not an ancient or well documented breed, moving down to Northern England from Scotland during the Industrial Revolution of the mid 19th century. Scots were renowned as weavers, and their early model Yorkies kept the rats away from the yarn they relied on to make a living.
Early Yorkies were said to be almost 30 pounds, whereas they are now between four and seven. The Yorkshire Terrier did not make its appearance in the United States until 1872, but its popularity spread quickly. One study of dog intelligence ranks them 27 out of 132 breeds, and they are renowned as a quick study.
The following Yorkie tale will hopefully change the mind of any snobbish big-dog owners who look down their nose at lapdogs as a yappy waste of space. For the record, I have both, and have had few troubles with dogs of any size. It is the owners who usually have the problems.
In February 1944, a young Yorkshire Terrier was found in an abandoned Japanese foxhole in New Guinea, during the height of the fierce island fighting in World War II. Nobody had a clue where she came from, and while ecstatic to have company she did not respond to Japanese or American commands. The Private who rescued her needed some poker money, so he sold her to Corporal Bill Wynne for $6.44.
Bill named her Smoky and he set about training his new buddy, who weighed four pounds and stood seven inches tall. Despite the language barrier he was amazed how quickly she learned. She became his constant companion for the rest of the South Pacific campaign, almost two years.
She subsisted on the same C-rations Bill did, with an occasional can of Spam. She thrived on the diet, whereas other “official” war dogs needed a special diet to keep them healthy. She spent months at a time walking on coral, and got none of the paw ailments some dogs did.
Bill and Smoky served with the 5th Air Force, 26th Photo Recon Squadron. She spent the twelve combat missions they flew together dangling for long hours from his service pack next to the chattering machine guns that were fighting off enemy fighter planes.
Smoky survived 150 air raids on New Guinea, and saved Bill’s life during one. She guided him to safety when she sensed that incoming shells were going to be close, and the 8 men left in the vicinity died in the blast.
Engineers building a crucial airfield in Luzon were stumped about how they could run a telegraph line through 70 feet of 8-inch pipe. If they dug it up, 40 fighter planes would not be operational and would be sitting ducks. Bill tied a string to Smoky, went to the end of the pipe and called her.
The problem was, the pipes were partially filled with sand every four feet where the ends met. Smoky somehow dug and slithered her way through it though, and a dangerous three-day digging job was averted.
Smoky is known as the world’s first “therapy dog” of record, and her visits to island hospitals were wonderful morale boosters to wounded soldiers.
Smoky was awarded eight battle stars and named an honorary Corporal for her service in the Pacific.
At war’s end Smoky was brought back to Cleveland with Bill, hidden in a modified oxygen mask case, and became a celebrity. For ten years they traveled to Hollywood and all over the world, showcasing her remarkable skills. They were on live TV 42 times and never repeated a trick.
Smoky died on February 21, 1957, and was buried in a World War II .30 Caliber Ammo Box in the Cleveland Metroparks, Lakewood, Ohio. On Veterans Day, November 2005, a bronze life-size sculpture of Smoky sitting in a GI helmet, on top of a two-ton blue granite base, was unveiled there. This monument was erected on Smoky’s final resting place, and is dedicated to “Smoky, the Yorkie Doodle Dandy, and the Dogs of all Wars.”
There are five other Memorials honoring Smoky in the United States. A foremost dog historian who conducted a study over a 70 year period decided that no dog of the past or present is as great as Smoky. Many writers and editors of dog books agree.
Bill Wynne wrote a book about Smoky called, of course, Yorkie Doodle Dandy. At the end he is said to give up the secret of how this amazing dog had ended up in that foxhole. I can’t repeat it because I haven’t read it yet. He is also working on a sequel about her, Angel in a Foxhole, and I look forward to reading both of them.
I doubt little Jezzie will have a book written about her, but I’m still proud to have my own “Four pounds of courage,” which was another of Smoky’s many titles.