Like us on Facebook
Follow us on Instagram

Smokey the Yorkshire Terrier – The tiniest war hero and the first therapy dog

Goran Blazeski

Born sometime in 1943, Smoky, a Yorkshire Terrier, was a famous female war dog who served in World War II.  She weighed only 4 pounds (1.8 kg) and stood 7 inches (18 cm) tall. Smoky is credited with beginning a renewal of interest in the once obscure Yorkshire Terrier breed.

At the beginning of 1944, Smoky was found by an American soldier in the New Guinea jungle where she had been abandoned in a foxhole. The soldiers at first thought that the dog belonged to the Japanese, but she didn’t respond to the commands given in Japanese or English. After she was taken to the camp, the soldier that found her sold her to Corporal William A. Wynne of Cleveland, Ohio, for two Australian pounds, so he could rejoin a game of poker.

Smoky in a helmet. Wikipedia/Public Domain

Smoky in a helmet. Source

For the next two years, Smoky accompanied Wynne on combat fights in the Pacific where temperature and living conditions were deplorable. The equatorial heat and the poor conditions in the tents didn’t seem to be a problem for Smoky. 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. Smoky faced extreme conditions during these two years but remained strong and dedicated.

Smoky had access to neither veterinary medicine 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.

Smoky become part of the 5th Air Force and was credited with twelve combat missions and awarded eight battle stars.

Fifth Air Force Emblem. Wikipedia/Public Domain

Fifth Air Force Emblem. Wikipedia/Public Domain

She survived 150 air raids on New Guinea and made it through a typhoon at Okinawa. Smoky even parachuted from 30 feet (9.1 m) in the air, out of a tree, using a parachute made just for her. She managed to save Wynne and eight of his men of incoming shells on the transport ship. Also, she was given the assignment to help string communication lines between outposts in the Philippines.

It was a very dangerous assignment that would take many men and three days to be accomplished; Smoky did it in few minutes. And as Wynne says: “She did it because she was asked to.”

Smoky, the World War II Yorkie war hero. Wikipedia/Public Domain

Smoky, the World War II Yorkie war hero. Source

Smoky wasn’t just dedicated and brave, she learned numerous tricks, which she performed for the entertainment of troops with Special Services and in hospitals from Australia to Korea. While fun, her tricks played a key role in the building of the Lingayen Gulf airbase. 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.

Once the war ended Wynne and Smoky were featured in a page one story with photographs in the Cleveland Press. It didn’t take a long time for Smoky to become a national sensation. 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.

Smoky died unexpectedly on February 21, 1957, at the approximate age of 14. Wynne and his family buried Smoky in a World War II .30 caliber ammo box in the Cleveland Metroparks, Rocky River Reservation in Lakewood, Ohio.

Smoky was more than a dog; she was a dedicated soldier, the first therapy dog, a morale booster for injured soldiers, entertainer and what is most important she was a hell of a friend.


Goran Blazeski

Goran Blazeski is one of the authors writing for The Vintage News