Would you make a detour to see a statue of a tiny terrier inside a soldier’s helmet? What if the subject of the statue were a war hero?
Sweetums and I drove a few extra miles to see the bronze tribute to Smoky, aka Yorkie Doodle Dandy, who not only “served” in World War II but who is thought to have been the first therapy dog. I don’t think Sweetums was impressed but I decided this was the most adorable statue I’ve seen.
We learned the reason Smoky was depicted in the helmet is because her soldier-owner often photographed her that way to show how tiny she was. Smoky lived from sometime around 1943 to 1957, a very long life for a doggie who was often in
the line of fire.
According to the Vietnam Dogs Handlers Association, “Smoky, who was found in an abandoned foxhole in the jungles of New Guinea, came to be owned and trained by William A. Wynne, a photo specialist in the Army Air Corps. Wynne trained Smoky to do several hundred tricks, took her to visit wounded and sick troops in hospitals and carried her along on 12 air rescue missions. Smoky joined the ranks of ‘war dog hero’ when she pulled a line through a 70-foot culvert, enabling vital communications lines to be run under newly captured air taxiways, thus saving the many war planes stationed there from exposure to enemy fire and near-certain destruction.”
Smoky was seven inches tall and weighed only 4 pounds. She was found in an abandoned foxhole in the jungles of New Guinea when she was already fully grown. Interestingly, she did not respond to commands in Japanese or English, so no one is sure of her origins. She was purchased by Cpl. Wynne of Cleveland for the price of admission to a poker game. Smoky was credited with 12 combat missions (she was awarded eight battle stars), and survived 150 air raids on New Guinea.
Wynne said the dog saved his life by warning him of incoming fire (she reportedly felt the vibrations of anti-aircraft guns) while he was on a transport ship.
She remained with Wynne the rest of her life. Wynne later wrote a book about her.
Animal Planet determined Smoky’s visits to the 233rd Station Hospital in New Guinea to see patients made her the first therapy dog.