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December 12, 2012

The legend of Just Nuisance

Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Have you heard the one about the dog that joined the Royal Navy? They called him Nuisance … Just Nuisance. He was one of a kind, a hero to his fellow servicemen, and he is now a local legend.

“Dogs have given us their absolute all […] They serve us in return for scraps. It is without a doubt the best deal man has ever made” ― Roger Caras

On 25 August 1939 the Royal Navy enlisted a Great Dane into service. The dog – almost 2 metres tall when standing on its hind legs – had gained a reputation for taking up inconvenient sleeping positions and the name Nuisance as a result. He had become a firm favourite with both British and South African sailors in Simon’s Town, the home of the South African Navy.

When enlisted he was given the full name Just Nuisance, and a legend was born.

“Dogs love their friends and bite their enemies” – Sigmund Freud

Just Nuisance started off with the title of Ordinary Seaman but was soon promoted to Able Seaman, a title normally reserved for more experienced, human recruits.

Sailors who came across this canine comrade would enjoy his company on land (Just Nuisance never actually went to sea). He would accompany them on train journeys, and he would often escort them back to the base. He would also doze off in the sunshine with his fellow ratings (when the time was right, of course).

Like many swabbies, Just Nuisance had his rebellious moments. He sometimes went on trains without a pass, and could also be found sleeping in a comrade’s bed. Punishment for a four-legged transgression had to improvised (taking away any juicy bones seemed an appropriate measure for his poor choice of sleeping area, for example). He was also known to attack any ship mascots pulling into Simon’s Town.
 
“If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went” ― Will Rogers

After several years of service, Just Nuisance was involved in a car accident. He slowly became paralysed as a result of thrombosis, leading to a discharge from the Navy. He could not recover, and was put to sleep on 1 April 1944. He was buried with full naval honours to mark his service.

Today you can see a statue of Just Nuisance in Jubilee Square in Simon’s Town, as well as an exhibition about his life in the Simon’s Town Museum.

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