Writer Dave Tabar wants to make a movie called Angel in a Foxhole – about Smoky, the Yorkshire Terrier war dog. Until July 4th, Blackpool Records will match all contributions. Here is Dave’s email.
Smoky the WWII Dog – Short Film Project Update
96 year old WWII Veteran Bill Wynne needs your help! He has a Yorkie story that must be told – the incredible and inspirational TRUE story of “Smoky”, his 4 lb. Yorkshire Terrier, who literally became the tiniest Hero of WWII!
Little Smoky was stuck in a foxhole in New Guinea when she was rescued by Bill Wynne’s army regiment. With Bill by her side, Smoky went on to win an army mascot competition, grace the cover of the GI newspaper, Yank Magazine, become the first-ever Therapy Dog and literally save lives and planes during the war.
Her heart-warming story shows how much our four-legged friends can accomplish and the powerful impact they have on others’ lives, even when they’re only 4 lbs. Little Smoky did not stop there! After the war, she became a celebrity in Cleveland, Ohio and had her own local TV show [WXEL’s Castles in the Air].
Help us share her charming place in history as a movie! Please check out our Indiegogo campaign and donate whatever you can – no amount is too small. With your help, 3-time Emmy Award-Winning Director Dean Love can create a memorable short film that will touch all of our hearts and help us convince Hollywood to turn this into a blockbuster feature. Let’s put Smoky’s name in lights and make 96 year old Veteran Bill Wynne’s dream come true!
To all who have helped fund the “Angel in a Foxhole: Smoky the WWII Therapy Dog” short film / Indiegogo campaign: Thank you for your support!
Blackpool Records matches funds until July 4th
We are writing to inform you that we have received a generous offer from Blackpool Records to match all personal donations received during the final days of the campaign, beginning today, to assure that we reach our minimum $25,000 campaign goal!
Please consider a contribution, no matter how small, to take advantage of this offer. Otherwise, please forward this message to friends, family and others, as the current campaign ends on Wednesday, July 4th. Today we reached 50% of our minimum goal of $25,000 to produce the film that will put “Smoky” on the big screen at selected 2019 short film festivals, as we continue to work toward achieving a full feature film!
STUDIO A FILMS (Cleveland) and DEAN LOVE FILMS (NYC)
Angel in a Foxhole perks, and more about Smoky
Check out Indiegogo for great perks you get with your donation! If you want to know more about Smoky, see my review of Mr. Wynne’s book Yorkie Doodle Dandy. I also posted about the tribute Australia paid to her, as well as an email I received from Bill Wynne in 2015.
On July 20, 2012 in Brisbane Australia, Smoky the war dog was awarded posthumously the Australian Defence Force Tracker and War Dog Association medal for military service.
At the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, US Consul General Niels Marquardt accepted the medal on behalf of Bill Wynne, Smoky’s person.
The ADFTWDA Secretary, a tracker team veteran of Vietnam, read a poem in remembrance of all Military Working Dogs. Written by Connie Chronister, “I Wait By The Gate” is a tribute especially to those dogs who were left behind.
In a strange land I was sent, not knowing my fate; In a pen I was put and I sat by the gate. I watched and I wondered what do I do now? Then I looked up and saw you, as you walked up with a smile. We trained and we worked and I showed you my best; You rewarded me and petted me and I did the rest.
Through trails and paths and roads we did go; And I was to smell, for traps that would blow. Many times I stopped you from ending your life; From an enemy trap wire that was set to end your life. Never have I thought that we would ever part; Because of the love that we had in our hearts. Oh, I was proud to walk by your side; With all of your friends and being your guide.
Then one day you put me back into my pen; You smiled, you petted me, you said, “Goodbye my friend.” You looked back one more time, and I saw the tear in your eye; And I knew it was the last, and was your way of saying goodbye. My life, it so changed when you went back home; And I stayed behind to a fate still unknown.
It’s been over 30 years since I’ve seen your face; But I never forgot you, my friend and my mate. So please don’t worry, I’m waiting by Heaven’s gate; For my best friend, my brother, but mainly my mate.
The tracker dogs who served with the Australian armed forces in Vietnam were not brought back to Australia. They were Caesar, Janus, Juno, Mercian, Mila, Trojan, Cassius, Julian, Justin, Marcus and Tiber. According to an Australian government site, it was because of American military reports of their dogs dying from a disease believed to be transmitted by ticks.
An accidental soldier, Smoky’s wartime action saved lives and time and, in peacetime, she entertained thousands on stage and television. She also worked her magic in hospital and nursing home visits. Those visits showed the value of a dog in recovery and well-being, both physical and psychological, and led to official recognition of therapy dogs.
I hope that Smoky and all the dogs remembered in granite statues and in soldiers’ minds mean that no Military Working Dog will ever again be ‘the soldier left behind’.
Thanks to Mr. Wynne for sending me a video of the medal presentation, it was truly lovely.
From my St. Thomas Dog Blog, Aug. 10/12. On Dec. 12, 2012, a statue was unveiled at the Brisbane Hospital in honour of Smoky (photos right and above). The other side of the base reads “Dedicated to all war animals. They also served. Lest we forget.” The story is at Monument Australia with photos by ADFTWDA historian Nigel Allsopp.
After I wrote a review of Yorkie Doodle Dandy (St. Thomas Dog Blog, April 2012), I got a lovely email from author Bill Wynne.
Thank you so much for the wonderful review of my memoir about my dog Smoky… I’m working a on a second book because YDD has been popular and resulted in many diverse things happening. Among them, some readers asking for another book. It will be “Angel in a Foxhole: Yorkie Smoky and Her Friends.”
Below is what is happening currently with our 69 year old hero:
A British TV company will record an interview in Cleveland Ohio, for “SUPER TINY PETS” broadcast, at the Smoky Memorial to be aired in the U.K. May 9, 2012
Smoky will have a memorial in Brisbane Australia within the next month or two. There are six memorials for her in the U.S.A. The following is part of the program that will be printed for a Smoky memorial dedication in Brisbane Australia.
Through the encouragement of Nigel Allsopp, one of Australia’s foremost animal advocates and dog experts, Smoky is to be honored by the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital on an original site where she medically served at a U.S. Military Hospital in 1944.
I am so proud that she is to be remembered here, the land of our close WWII ally and in the city of her birth. Unwittingly we began the animal therapy movement which has proven its benefits for many of the maladies brought on during war and peace throughout the world. Smoky led the way, performing her special magic. Helping cure those in need in the unique way that therapy dogs are so innocently capable of doing. “Smoky is the First Therapy Dog of Record” (from Animal Planet, research)
My sincere thanks to the Board and Staff of Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital for establishing this memorial. To the Australian Army Forces who participated in the ceremony honoring ” WWII’s smallest soldier,” thank you…
See attached photo for many publications inspired by YDD. This photo was taken last Sept [with Smoky Too]. There are 11 publications out since.
Sincerely, Bill Wynne
Thank you, Mr. Wynne, for keeping the memory of this little dog – soldier, therapist and entertainer – alive. What makes Smoky so remarkable is that she was truly a Renaissance Dog – she did it all. By honouring her, we remember and honour them all. Military dogs, guide dogs, therapy dogs, search dogs, sled dogs – all working and service dogs, as well as those who simply excel at being our best friends. (From my St. Thomas Dog Blog, June 7/12)
I don’t know much about WWII, and even less about the American campaign in the South Pacific. I learned a lot, and felt it, reading about a Yorkshire Terrier. William Wynne’s book about his dog Smoky takes you to the war with him. He explains it so clearly, the geography of battle, the military sorties and the day-to-day existence of the soldiers.
Military history was not his purpose in writing Yorkie Doodle Dandy: A memoir. It is about a dog he acquired in New Guinea while stationed there as an aerial photographer. One part of the story of how Smoky came to be with Bill really struck me. Another soldier found the tiny dog alongside a road, trying to get out of a foxhole. He didn’t like dogs, but he couldn’t leave this little scrap of a being to fend for herself. He brought her back to camp even though he wasn’t even remotely tempted to keep her. That, in an environment where death, killing and suffering are part of everyday life, is the act of a truly good man.
When Smoky came to Bill soon after, he did basic obedience training with her for her own safety. Then, out of boredom and seeing how quickly she learned and enjoyed it, he began teaching her tricks. She became a star performer, providing entertainment for his mates and putting on shows for troops and in hospitals for wounded soldiers.
While Smoky was not an official war dog, she performed military duty, becoming a mascot of his squadron and given the honorary rank of corporal. She logged many hours of flight time, in reconnaissance and combat missions. Her most important military action was pulling telephone wire 60 feet through a drainage pipe. It took her minutes to do what would have taken men days.
Back in the USA
He brought her back to the States where she became a celebrity both as a war dog and performer. With Bill’s wife Margie, they spent time in Hollywood in the movie dog training business. He tells us about kennels and trainers known to all of us who love watching dogs in movies. They returned to Ohio when Bill was offered an aerial photography job in NACA (National Advisory Committee on Aeronautics), later NASA. But performing was in Bill and Smoky’s blood. They entertained in circuses, hospital wards, stage shows and on their own live television show. She also was the first therapy dog on record due to her work with wounded soldiers and later in US hospitals.
Yorkshire Terriers were not common in the US at that time and, with her, Bill became involved in dog shows and the Yorkshire Terrier Club of America. Smoky lived to a good old age, happy and pampered and forever the star, also forever the war hero. There are monuments to her for her war work and her irrepressible spirit of fun.
The greatest tribute to her is this wonderful memoir about her life by a man who deeply loved her. It also is a tribute to the soldiers who loved and protected their official and unofficial war dogs. He tells of the extraordinary measures they took to make sure their animals were part of ‘bringing the boys home.’ He didn’t intend the book as such, but it’s also a testament to him – a good man and a great veteran. Thank you, Mr. Wynne, for sharing your war and your dog with us.
From my St. Thomas Dog Blog, April 26, 2012. See my Angel in a Foxhole for more on a movie being made about Smoky and Bill Wynne.
– by Jim Stewart, originally published on the STDOA website
The WWII story of Sergeant Gander is one of courage, companionship, and sacrifice. Gander was posthumously awarded the Dickin Medal in 2000. Sgt. Gander, a Newfoundland dog, and other animals who served in Canada’s military are recognized on the Veterans Affairs Canada webpage. A grenade killed Sgt. Gander. He grabbed it and ran, taking it away from his men. It took his life when it exploded, but his action saved many.
The book Sergeant Gander: A Canadian Hero, by St. Thomas’ own Robyn Walker, is called “a fascinating account of the Royal Rifles of Canada’s canine mascot, and his devotion to duty during the Battle of Hong Kong in the Second World War”. Intended for children, it is very informative for anyone interested in Newfoundland dogs, Newfoundland or Canada’s role in WWII.
The Dickin Medal, at left, has been awarded to heroic animals by the UK’s People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA) since 1914. It has an amazing history and the list of recipients includes dogs, pigeons, cats, and horses. It is the animal equivalent of the Victoria Cross.
Judy, a British WWII dog (at right wearing her Dickin Medal), was the only dog to ever officially be listed as a Prisoner of War in a Japanese prison camp. First brought onboard HMS Gnat at a mascot, she proved invaluable in alerting the crew to dangers nearby.
Damien Lewis wrote about her and her partner Frank Williams in Judy: A dog in a million. (Here is an Amazon link to it and other books about her.) Mr. Williams and his wife and children settled in British Columbia in the 1950s. His family’s website tells about his life and Judy’s, and plans to make their story into a movie. (“A Tribute…”)
Flanders Fields’ Bonfire, WWI
Another faithful four legged friend who served in war was the horse Bonfire. Bonfire is shown here with John McCrae, born in Guelph, Ontario, who served as a field surgeon with the Canadian Army Medical Corps during World War I. The misery the two of them saw is hard to imagine. McCrae, who would become a Lieutenant Colonel, never returned to Canada, having passed away in 1918 from pneumonia. He was buried in France with full military honours. His flag-draped coffin was borne on a gun carriage and his mourners, who included Sir Arthur Currie and many of McCrae’s friends and staff, were preceded by Bonfire. McCrae’s boots were reversed in the stirrups. John McCrae wrote In Flanders Fields.
Eli and Colton Rusk, Afghanistan
“Fallen Marine’s parents adopt son’s bomb dog” read the headlines Feb. 2, 2011. In only the 2nd time that a US military dog has been adopted by the family of a handler killed in action, Eli’s leash was handed to Darrell Rusk, his wife and two sons who crouched down to hug and pet Eli, who lifted his paw. Because Eli was still considered operational, the adoption was approved with special permission of the Sec. of the Navy. Eli will join the other dogs on the Rusk ranch in Texas.
Eli was assigned to Rusk in May, 2010. On duty in Afghanistan, the two quickly grew inseparable. Military dogs are supposed to sleep in kennels when deployed. But Rusk broke the rules and let Eli curl up with him on his cot. He shared his meals with him. “What’s mine is his” wrote Rusk.
The day a sniper killed Colton Rusk, Eli was the first to reach his body. So loyal, he snapped at other Marines who rushed to his fallen handler. They had already found two roadside bombs that day, and had stopped when a vehicle had run over a third. Rusk was shot after the soldiers stopped to secure the area. Pfc. Colton Rusk was 20 years old.
One of them, in the photo on the left, is Balto. He was the lead husky in the dog team that ran the final leg of a run across Alaska to Nome in 1925. The teams were bringing serum to combat a diphtheria epidemic in the town.
The run made by these dogs and men is now commemorated in the annual Iditarod race.
Smoky – “Four pounds of courage”
Smoky was found by an American soldier in an abandoned foxhole in the New Guinea jungle in 1944. She was sold to Corporal Bill Wynne for two Australian pounds so her owner could return to his poker game. For the next two years Smoky traveled with Wynne, even on combat flights over the Pacific. Wynne was with the 26th Photo Recon Squadron and went everywhere – jungle and air – and was credited with being on twelve missions. Smoky was on all of them.
Wynne credited Smoky with saving his life by warning him of incoming shells on a transport ship, calling her an “angel from a foxhole”. Smoky guided Wynne to duck the fire that hit the eight men standing next to them.
In down time, Smoky learned numerous tricks, which she performed for the entertainment of the other troops with Special Services and in hospitals from Australia to Korea. With Wynne, Smoky 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 would later, after the war, perform in 42 live-television shows without repeating a trick.
From Bill Wynne’s website he tells us that, having had six lessons in obedience training in Cleveland in 1942, his experience when he obtained the four pound Yorkie in New Guinea was indeed limited. But soon Smoky was ‘playing dead’ and weaving between Bill’s legs as he walked along. She learned to walk on a drum and peddle a scooter made from an orange crate. And she was soon walking on a tight wire blindfolded.
Smoky lays wire
Smoky’s tricks made her a war hero in her own right. She helped when engineers built an airbase. They had to run a telegraph wire through 70 feet of pipe, which had shifted in spots. It was quite the moment when she emerged from the other end of the pipe with the string that had the wire attached. Her “trick” saved three days work as well as men being exposed on the runway in a very dangerous situation.
For most people, her ultimate trick was spelling her name out of letters by actual recognition, no matter how they were placed. Smoky and Bill performed for their buddies and at Army and Navy Hospitals. Many of her tricks are used today in agility trials. She and Bill were in show business for 10 years after the war doing the tricks Smoky learned overseas, all set to music. Bill also worked in Hollywood for a short time after the war, training and handling dogs in major movie studios.
First therapy dog
According to Wikipedia, Animal Planet determined that Smoky was the first therapy dog of record. Her service in this arena began in July 1944 at the 233rd Station Hospital, in New Guinea, where she accompanied nurses to see the incoming battlefield casualties from the Biak Island invasion. Smoky was already a celebrity of sorts, as her photograph was in Yank Down Under magazine at the same time, which made it easy to get permission. Dr. Charles Mayo, of the famed Mayo Clinic, was the commanding officer who allowed Smoky to go on rounds. He also permitted her to sleep with Wynne in his hospital bed for five nights. Smoky’s work as a therapy dog continued for 12 years, during and after World War II.
After the war Wynne brought Smoky back to Cleveland to live with his family. In Cleveland, Wynne and Smoky were featured in a page one story with pictures, and Smoky soon become 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. She appeared with Wynne on some of the earliest TV shows in the Cleveland area. They also had a show of their own, Castles in the Air, on Cleveland’s WKYC Channel 3. They were especially popular as entertainers at the veterans’ hospitals. According to Wynne, “after the War, Smoky entertained millions during the late 40s and early 50s.”
In 1957, at age 14, Smoky passed away unexpectedly. Wynne and his family buried Smoky in a World War II .30 caliber ammo box. Nearly 50 years later, on Veterans Day, November 11, 2005, a bronze life-size statue of Smoky sitting in a GI helmet atop a two-ton granite base was unveiled. The monument is dedicated to:
“Smoky, the Yorkie Doodle Dandy, and Dogs of All Wars”
Bill retired after 50 years of professional photography. After his experience in the 26th Photo Recon Squadron, he spent 7 years with the National Advisory Committee For Aeronautics (now NASA). He flew on research missions and worked on research programs that tested and developed equipment still used in modern aircraft today. Bill then worked as a photo journalist and photographer/writer with the Cleveland Plain Dealer for 31 years. He returned to NASA for four more years before retiring to write Yorkie Doodle Dandy, a memoir about his war experiences and Smoky.
United States War Dogs Association
War Dog adoption requests rose following the Bin Laden mission. Great interest is now on this topic. Are retired war dogs the new “hot” dog choice? The website United States War Dogs Association has a lot of research and information. You can turn the music off, too. There’s info on the modeling session and the finished scale model of the project they are working on. It is the U.S. War Dog Memorial to be located on the grounds of the New Jersey Vietnam Veterans Memorial in New Jersey.
The War Dogs Association website has lots of information and personal stories such as the one pictured here – Who Let the Dogs Out? – about the Vietnam era. It also has a War Dog Heroes page, and info on books about dogs in war.
One book it mentions, Always Faithful, is about Marine dogs of WWII. The story is told by retired Marine Corps captain and veterinarian, Bill Putney, who “writes a moving and heartrending account of his days as commander of the 3rd Marine War Dog Platoon, in which some 72 dogs and their handlers were his responsibility.”
Belgian Malinois or German Shepherd?
The Navy Seal team that took down Osama Bin Laden included one dog. Like other members of the Seal team, the identity is kept secret, including the breed at this point. The Seals have long favoured Newfoundland dogs. But a smaller breed, including one trained to sniff out explosives or booby trapped, may have been used, especially if the dog was strapped to the trainer and dropped from a helicopter into a desert compound.
Interesting coverage of the speculation surrounding which breed and other info is on Global Animal, which includes some other sources too. PS: The claim by one source that some trained military dogs have titanium teeth at a cost of $2000 each has not been verified. But that hasn’t stopped the story from spreading.
‘Vapor Wake’ trained dogs being used in NYC
In a new twist on combating terrorism, dogs specially trained to detect a ‘vapor wake’ left by explosives are starting to be used in the New York City subway system. Shown above is Rachel during a trial run at Grand Central Station. According to the article, it costs $20,000 to to breed and train these animals. Normal bomb-sniffing dogs are trained to find explosives that are stationary. But dogs like Rachel are trained to detect a moving scent.
Looking after the Dogs in War
Here’s something you don’t see in the Sears or Eaton’s catalogue: Dog Gear from K9 Storm Inc., a Canadian company that was awarded an $86,000 contract by U.S. Naval Special Warfare Group. The dog pictured above is wearing a K9 Storm Aerial Insertion Vest, which is part of their catalogue.
The photos above are from a photo essay at foreignpolicy.com. Great info with the pics too.
And as with any war action, there are wounds and casualties. The Holland Working Dog (MWD) Veterinary Hospital is established to handle the special cases that arise from military action. The hospital was named in memory of Lt. Col. Daniel Holland, killed in Iraq in 2006, the first Army veterinarian to be killed in action since the Vietnam War. The dog shown above is Taker, who is thankfully getting nothing more serious than a root canal (photo from Foreign Policy). And below – a bit of history for you from a 1935 Popular Science article.
Remembrance Day in St. Thomas, 2011
Remembrance Day ceremonies took place at the Boy Soldier Memorial in front of the St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital in St. Thomas. Despite the cold wind, there was a good turnout of people who paid their quiet respects to those who have made our society possible.
Newfoundland Mi'kmaq, family history, Coronation Street, etc.