By C. Nemeth, Army
Writing Type: Prose
By C. L. Nemeth
In my short army career, I recall two stories about dogs. Since Captain Rush outranked Lieutenant Barrett, I will start with his dog, Pouli. Stationed in Germany, we were living in a new barracks. It had the mess hall and all offices on the main floor. The second and third floors housed us soldiers, while the fourth floor was the bachelor officers' quarters.
Access to the upper floors was provided by a stairwell in the center of the barracks. This stairwell was open with tile floors and steps. Any noise made in the stairwell was immediately transmitted to all floors. It was almost impossible to enter the barracks or climb the stairs without everyone in the building hearing it. To say it as noisy was an understatement.
Pouli was a German shepherd. He had a pleasant disposition, and all of us petted and played with him. Captain Rush took Pouli almost everywhere he went, but when on base Pouli would be chained outside at the rear of the barracks.
The captain would come to the barracks at any time of the night, chain Pouli and go up the stairs to his room on the fourth floor. One would normally think that this would be the end of it until morning. If you do, you do not know the perverse minds of GIs. Captain would retire. Soon after that, a half-loaded GI would return from his carousing. Pouli was there to welcome the prodigal. Invariably the GI would release Pouli, hold the door open, and tell Pouli, "Find the Captain." Pouli, being an obedient dog, would start up the stairs, yelping and whining, with toe nails scratching on the tile floor. Reaching the fourth floor, he would scratch on the captain’s door, whining all the while. Of course, this woke up almost everyone, including Captain Rush, who came out of his room barking the foulest of epithets. He would lead Pouli down the stairs, out the rear door, and chain him up. As he returned to his room, he would continue his tirade. Of course, the perpetrator of this disturbance was nowhere to be found.
Almost always, after the barracks settled down and silence returned, another GI would arrive, and the entire event would be repeated. Those in the barracks who were not complaining were laughing. The captain found no humor in this and voiced his opinion loud and long the next morning, but to no avail. This continued almost every night until Captain Rush was re-assigned. We missed Pouli.
The second story would be diabolical if it were not so funny. Lieutenant Barrett had a registered female boxer. To say that the lieutenant was proud of his dog would not properly explain his devotion. We did not usually see the dog because he had it boarded off base. Lieutenant Barrett was not one of the most admired officers on the base.
Before departing the office, he would always tell us about his great dog, how he was waiting for her to achieve estrus so that he could mate her with another registered boxer, and how much money he would receive for the resulting litter of puppies.
We all were required to qualify with rifles annually. This was usually a three-day bivouac at a firing range and was the only time we camped out all year. It was a big event because it broke up the monotony of daily office duty. Lieutenant Barrett brought his boxer along to one of these outings, and that’s when she came into heat.
His mistake was that he left the dog at the mess tent while he was out on the firing range. A sergeant in our outfit had a small male dog of undocumented parentage who was with us. He, of course, sensed the female boxer's condition. That put him in a frenzy, but he could only make love to the boxer's hind knees because of his inadequate stature. Those of us around the mess tent were having a good time watching him, and, of course, it did not take long for us to connive to help him with his love affair.
Someone found a stout wooden crate. With one of us holding the boxer, several others put the small dog up on the box. I will leave the rest to your own imagination. This went on for most of the afternoon. I feel sure that if that small dog were still alive, his thanks to his “assistants” would be profound and endless. After mess, Lieutenant Barrett left with his dog and presumably arranged soon afterward for a proper hook up with a suitable boxer boy. For the next three months all we heard from the anticipatory officer was how much money he would make from the sale of his pregnant dog's progeny. As the days went by, the lieutenant’s anticipation, and ours, reached monumental proportions.
The happy event finally came, but the lieutenant walked into the office with a long face. As usual, someone asked if the pups had arrived yet, even though we were quite sure they had just by looking at the lieutenant’s countenance. “Yes,” the lieutenant said, “she had them last night. I just do not understand it. Most of them look like Sergeant Dixon's mutt. I just don't understand." After he left the office, pandemonium broke out. Even Captain Stein, the adjutant, roared with delight when he heard the tale. I never heard how the lieutenant disposed of all his “pedigree” puppies.