As we give thanks to all those who have served to protect our freedom, we pause to honor our canine war heroes too. Dogs play a vital role in every aspect of our lives, from hunting to scaring off intruders and herding our livestock. But did you ever think a YORKSHIRE TERRIER would become a true war hero? AND the first therapy dog? Meet Smoky! It’s true: Meet Smoky!


Dogs have played a big role in history, war, literature, art, and culture – even little Yorkies and Maltese.

the Famous WWII Yorkshire Terrier Smoky!

Owned by Corporal William A. Wynne of Cleveland, Ohio, Smoky became one of the most famous Yorkies ever.

Corporal Wynne picked up Smoky, who was a stray in the New Guinea Jungles, (southwest Pacific, just north of Australia) during World War II. He actually won her in a poker game.

The dog was such a fighter, she became a famous symbol of the times – even parachuting with Wynne’s platoon.

Smoky used her small size and cleverness to her advantage and helped to “run” communication wire through a culvert that was under an airplane runway.

Without Smoky’s assistance, laying cable would mean digging up the entire runway. The soldiers working on it would be exposed to enemy fire. The runway would have been inoperable for several days, critical during the war, but Smoky saved the day.


In total, Smoky went on over 100 missions with her troop.

Here’s Smoky, actually parachuting!

Smoky parachuted from 30 feet (9.1 m) in the air, out of a tree, using a parachute made just for her.

Smoky at work

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC Magazine ran this photo of Smoky at work, with the following caption:

Where in the world is New Guinea?

Located north of Australia, New Guinea is the world’s second-largest island, after Greenland.

New Guinea was invaded in 1942 by the Japanese. The highlands, northern and eastern parts of the island became key battlefields in the South West Pacific Theatre of World War II.

It was a fierce battleground; approximately 216,000 Japanese, Australian and U.S. soldiers, sailors and airmen died during the New Guinea Campaign in WWII.

It’s hard to imagine a 4 pound Yorkie abandoned and lost in this kind of landscape.

New Guinea landscape

smoky and col wynn

Here is Smoky with Col. Wynn. Strangely, Smoky was found wandering in the New Guinea jungle! How did she get there? Where was her human?  Wynn didn’t actually find Smoky – another American serviceman found her abandoned in a foxhole. He took her to the nearby prisoner of war camp, to discover she didn’t understand Japanese commands. Nor did she understand English commands.

Before too long, this serviceman sold Smoky to Wynn for two Australian dollars (equivalent to about $6.00) – he needed the money to get back into a poker game! 

smoky war dog

Smoky weighed four pounds and stood 7″ tall.

Wynn shares the details about her service:

“Smoky Served in the South Pacific with the 5th Air Force, 26th Photo Recon Squadron [and] flew 12 air/sea rescue and photo reconnaissance missions.”

On those flights, Smoky spent long hours dangling in a soldier’s pack near machine guns used to ward off enemy fighters. Smoky was credited with twelve combat missions and awarded eight battle stars. She survived 150 air raids on New Guinea and made it through a typhoon at Okinawa.

Smoky even saved  Wynn’s life:

Wynne credited Smoky with saving his life by warning him of incoming shells on an LST (transport ship), calling her an “angel from a foxhole.” As the ship deck was booming and vibrating from anti-aircraft gunnery, Smoky guided Wynne to duck the fire that hit eight men standing next to them.

No wonder he called her an “angel from a foxhole.”

Smoky and Wynn after the warAfter the war, Smoky returned home to Ohio with Corporal Wynne where she continued her “entertainment” career, visiting VA hospitals to cheer up Vets, and entertaining children in hospitals.

She also appeared on a number of TV commercials and made personal appearances across the country.

Owned by Corporal William A. Wynne of Cleveland, Ohio, Smoky became one of the most famous Yorkies ever.

In fact, Smoky was so popular she was credited with reigniting interest in Yorkshire Terriers, who had almost dropped out of sight as a registered breed during the War.

Smoky the Yorkie was the first true service dog

After Wynn returned from the War, he recognized that many people would love to see Smoky’s amazing tricks. First stop, the veteran’s ward at Wynn’s local hospital. You’ll recognize the name – this was the Mayo Clinic!
Soon Col. Wynne and Smoky were also visiting children in hospital, bringing cheer to everyone who saw the little dog perform.
When they arrived home from the war, Wynne and Smoky were featured in a page-one story with photographs in the Cleveland Press on December 7, 1945. Smoky soon became a national sensation.

Over the next 10 years, 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.

She appeared with Wynne on some of the earliest TV shows in the Cleveland area, including a show of their own on Cleveland’s WKYC Channel 3 called Castles in the Air, featuring some of Smoky’s unbelievable tricks.

Smoky performed in 42 live-television shows without ever repeating a trick. Smoky and Wynne were also very popular entertainers at the veterans’ hospitals. According to Wynne, “after the War, Smoky entertained millions during the late 1940s and early 1950s.”


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

Nearly 50 years later, on Veterans Day, November 11, 2005, a bronze life-size sculpture, by Susan Bahary, of Smoky sitting in a GI helmet, atop a two-ton blue granite base, was unveiled there. It is placed above the very spot that Smoky was laid at her final resting place. This monument is dedicated to “Smoky, the Yorkie Doodle Dandy, and the Dogs of All Wars”.



Smoky’s Memorial, in Lakewood Ohio.

By Aphillcsa – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

smoky's memorial

The BOOK about Smoky

You can get this paperback story of Smoky, written by Col. Wynn himself, on Amazon.


Yorkie Doodle Dandy is Corporal William A. Wynne’s story about Smoky, a tiny Yorkshire Terrier found in a New Guinea foxhole during World War II.

Smoky helped save the lives of servicemen who were faced with imminent airfield attack.

Wynne’s own life was spared while under a shipboard kamikaze attack–led by Smoky–Smoky is credited internationally for her therapy work in hospitals and care facilities.

Post-war, Smoky continued therapy work and performed on live television with Bill as trainer.

Smoky ultimately proved to the world the therapeutic value of dogs to people during war, conflict, and recovery, as well as in friendship, entertainment, and hope.