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Just Nuisance – Dog Days in the Navy

Being a dog can be ruff. You don't get a lot of respect. Having dreams of being a pilot, or playing basketball, may seem out of reach. That's not always the case. Just Nuisance was the name given to a dog with a dream.

His dream was to be more than a nuisance. The British Navy called to this intelligent and adventurous dog. Life led the massive hound to water, but he chose to sail.


Origins of a Legend


Just Nuisance was born on 1 April 1937 in Rondebosch, Cape Town, South Africa. He was a purebred Great Dane, and a hell of a specimen at that. The pup was healthy, and got certified and sold to Benjamin Chaney.

Benjamin took the pup along to Simon's Town where he took charge of the Royal United Services office. While working there, the dog who would become Just Nuisance became acquainted with the sailors from the local naval base.

Benjamin Chaney's original name for the dog has been lost to history. This could be because he never bothered to name the dog. Not until much later would the dog earn his name.

Just Nuisance was apparently an incredibly clever dog. He managed to figure out how to open and close the fridge after seeing Benjamin put a ham in it. The next morning, the ham was missing from an otherwise undisturbed fridge. All that was left was a clean bone.

He also figured out how to operate a faucet, in his youth. Going so far as to test the water with his paw to ensure that he hadn't opened the hot water accidentally. The dog who would become Just Nuisance was clearly unique.

Anyone who has owned or spent time with a Great Dane, knows that their bowel movements can be monumental. The Great Dane is one of the biggest dog breeds in the world, and Just Nuisance was no exception. In fact, he was a truly massive example.

So to counteract any bad blood with his owners, Just Nuisance taught himself to bury his leavings. This trait went a long way to improving his popularity with humans.


Got the Job by Showing Up


Sometimes getting a job can be tough. Other times, it is a simple matter of showing up and never leaving. This is exactly how Just Nuisance came to be enlisted in the Royal Navy.

The dog liked junior sailors, called Ratings. He especially enjoyed the treats they gave him. Benjamin didn't mind, and left the dog to its own devices during the work day.

The dog saw the Ratings leave on the train, taking their snacks with them. Naturally, the genius canine learned to take the train down to the Naval Base. He spent the day there before taking the train back home.

Dogs aren't supposed to ride the train. Conductors worked hard to remove him from the train, as he disturbed the regular passengers. He obeyed their wishes, got off the train, and would promptly get on the next train in line.

South African Railways and Harbors, the state-run operator of the trains, sent a letter to the dog's owner. He would have to be put down if he kept on riding the train for free and being a general nuisance. That's capitalism for you.

Benjamin Chaney wasn't about to pay for his dog's train fare. So he put the dog up for sale. This seemed to be the end of the line for the dog that was rapidly becoming known as Nuisance.

The sailors took note of the dog's predicament. As one, they implored their superiors to do something to save their friend. They opted to enlist him, officially in the Royal Navy.

Enlisted men were entitled to free travel on public transport. So the dog would no longer be subject to persecution by the Railway. The only problem was that an enlisted sailor needed a full name and rank.

His superiors only knew him as Nuisance, so they made his first name Just, and last name Nuisance. Considering that he had been working unofficially as a sailor for 18 months at this point, he was enlisted one rank above the most junior – Able Seaman.

Thus, Just Nuisance, Able Seaman of the Royal Navy was officially recorded by history on 25 August 1939. His religion was recorded as part of the “Canine Divinity League”, and his job as “Bonecrusher”.


Working Dog



Just Nuisance assigned himself many roles. He never truly became a sailor, preferring to stay ashore. That doesn't mean that the Able Seaman didn't work hard.

He accompanied sailors on train journeys, to pubs in the evening, and kept them safe when their thirst was satiated. Just Nuisance is also credited with saving the life of a sailor who passed out near the docks.

The seaman had contracted malaria, and the fever stole his consciousness while he was on his way to the doctor. Just Nuisance stood by the man, barking up a storm, until other sailors came to collect their fallen comrade. According to the attending physician, the man would have perished had he not received medical attention as soon as he did, thanks to Just Nuisance.

Official duties included going to fundraising events following the outbreak of WWII. Just Nuisance became an international sensation, his enlistment lifted the spirits of British subjects across the globe.

The Navy arranged a marriage for Just Nuisance to a Great Dane called Adinda. Of course, the event was publicized in an effort to drum up support for the Royal Navy. Soon after their wedding, Just Nuisance and Adinda were blessed with a litter of 5 pups.

2 of his pups were auctioned off in Cape Town as part of the fundraising effort. His descendants may wander South Africa to this day.


Rabble Rousing & Carousing


Just Nuisance was not the perfect soldier. Like many of the enlisted, he had a tendency to linger at the pub. He apparently enjoyed beer as well. His comrades feeding him several beers a night (alcohol being incredibly bad for dogs aside). This saw him written up many times.

His tendency for trouble didn't end there. Once, Just Nuisance got in trouble for taking over a Petty Officer's bunk. He went as far as kicking the man out of bed. This lost him his bone privileges for 7 days.

Just Nuisance had a tendency of getting into fights, just like any other soldier. Unlike other soldiers, he tended to get into fights with the animal mascots from other ships.

The Royal Navy has a long tradition of adopting animals as ship's mascots. Just Nuisance, being an enlisted seaman, had more rights than a mascot, who was just a pet.

Fights between Just Nuisance and mascots tended to go one way – Just Nuisance's way. He reportedly killed at least 2 mascots in single combat. Likely due to his superior size and strength.


Death of a Nuisance


Just Nuisance suffered from the defects of his breed. Hip issues are common, and so are heart problems.

He was an active dog. Known for jumping from moving vehicles before they came to a stop, and the aforementioned fighting. He once swam 3 miles (4.83 km) to shore after being harassed by his fellow seamen.

Eventually, he developed Thrombosis, which led to paralysis in his rear legs. The Navy discharged him on 1 January 1944. By 1 April of that year, his condition had deteriorated to such an extent that the Naval veterinary surgeon advised euthanasia.

Just Nuisance was given a full Naval burial at Camp Klawer. He was draped in the Royal Naval White Ensign, given a gun salute, and “Last Post” was played as he was committed to the earth.

A statue of Just Nuisance was erected in Simon's Town.

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