27.7.10

Just Nuisance

I love books and I love dogs, so I was very happy when I found this little book at a street sale a couple of years ago.  This is the first book ever to be published about one of my favourite legends, "an Able Seaman who Leads a Dog's Life".


Way back in 1939, Mr Chaney of Mowbray in Cape Town became the owner of an eleven month old Great Dane puppy who would go on to become a legend in his own right.  This young pup, being of a very friendly nature, caused so much inconvenience with his wagging tail in the home of his previous owner, that he earned himself the name of Nuisance.

Even on their first night together, Mr Chaney realised that Nuisance was no ordinary dog. He showed nuisance around his house and in the kitchen he pushed down on the handle of the refrigerator door, opening it, and told Nuisance that if he could do the same, he could have the two pounds of mutton inside.  The next morning the mutton was gone.

Shortly after Nuisance moved into the Chaney household, the household was moved to Simon's Town where Mr Chaney was put in charge of the United Services Institute.   Here Nuisance found a new group of friends and soon he accompanied them everywhere, even on the train to and from Cape Town.  He saw it as his personal duty to ensure that no sailor was left behind when the last train back to Simon's Town, left Cape Town station.


Of course the powers that were the then South African Railways were not happy with this huge dog travelling on their trains.  The SAR personnel would often put him off the train (two or three would have to join forces to achieve this), but he would just get onto the next train that comes by.   It is told that once, directly after he was put off and the train started moving to leave the station, a sailor opened a window and Nuisance, like a bullet, sailed through it back onto the train.  After much complaining and many defeats suffered by SAR employees when trying to keep Nuisance off the trains, there was a threat that he would be put down if found on SAR property again.

There was no way that Mr Chaney could curb his dog's inbred wanderlust and he decided to sell Nuisance and give the money to the Speed the Planes Fund.   However, by now Nuisance was known and loved by not only thousands of sailors, but also by the public of Simon's Town and Cape Town alike.  His worth as a mascot and companion was well established and at the last minute, the Admiralty stepped in and Nuisance was enlisted into the Royal Navy and he became an Able Seaman quartered at Froggy Pond, 5 miles outside Simon's Town.


Thus he became Just Nuisance and his date of birth was oficially declared to be 1 April 1937. According to his enlistment papers, he was bred by a Mr Bosman of Rondebosch, Cape Town. He was brought up to the trade of a bone crusher and his religious denomination was given as "scrounger". He volunteered on 6 June 1939 and commenced his duties on 25 August of the same year. Now Able Seaman Just Nuisance could travel for free, as an enlisted man, on any of the suburban trains in and around Cape Town.


Like any other enlisted sailor, he received rations as well as a bed to call his own.  Nuisance did not, like any other ordinary dog, curl up to sleep, he slept streched out, with his head on his pillow.  On occassion, a visiting sailor would get into his bed when he was out late, only to be ousted without ceremony when Nuisance returned.


After a not so long, but illustrious carreer, Nusaince were discharged from the Navy on 1 January 1944.   Great Danes never live to a great age and after being involved in a motorcar accident, he suffered with thrombosis.  Eventually, when paralysis started setting in, it was decided that he would be put to sleep.  So on 1 April 1944, on his seventh birthday, he was taken to the Simon's Town Naval Hospital where the Naval Surgeon put him to sleep.

On the following morning, at 11:30, to the sound of a gun salute and a lone bugler, Just Nuisance, wrapped in a canvas bag and covered with a white Royal Ensign, was laid to rest at Klaver Camp on top of Red Hill.  He was buried with full military honours and a simple granite gravestone marked his grave.

Today, if you visit Simon's Town, you can view a statue of Nuisance on Jubilee Square and should you visit the Naval Museum, you will find a special display about him, as well as a slide show about this not-an-ordinary-dog.

Of course one post could never tell the whole story of Nuisance.  If you wish to read more about him, you are invited to pay his memory a visit over here. 

6 comments:

Gaelyn said...

What an absolutely wonderful story. I'd have liked Nuisance for sure.

I lived with a friend's Harlequin Dane for several months and she was like an elephant ballerina, usually elegant, sometimes down right clumsy and always such a love. She too had her own bed.

leilani said...

i love this!!! what a beautiful story!

Argent said...

What a lovely story!

Nicole said...

What a sweet story! I love dogs (and books and knitting!)and on July 7th we lost our chow mix Sam. He was 15. He had been my buddy since I was 18. He still lived with my mom but I visited regularly. Not everyone understands the love we feel for our dog family.

Thanks for the lovely post.

janis said...

Oh what a lovely story indeed! I love it! I also love old books & dogs so this is a treasure!
Thank you so much for sharing this!

Lara said...

If you wish to see Just Nuisance's double.Go onto Facebook & check out a page called 'Tyson The Great'. So many similarities, not just in looks but nature, sleeping patterns, intelligence. I only wish that I could have met Just Nuisance, but i must believe Tyson is his offspring passed down from generation's. WHAT A LEGEND!