Real dog's life as British sailor

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 02 February, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 02 February, 2011, 12:00am


Just Nuisance is the only dog to have been a member of Britain's Royal Navy. The legendary animal, as tall as a man when standing on his hind legs, he is still fondly remembered today.


The Great Dane was born on April 1, 1937 in Cape Town, South Africa, which then had Britain's king as its monarch. Just Nuisance went to the Simon's Town naval base with his owner. He earned his name because he used to lie at the top of the gangplank - the narrow bridge linking the ship to shore. Sailors called him 'just a nuisance' because he was in the way.

Train Trips

At night, sailors often went by train to visit the city and Just Nuisance went with them. He knew when it was time to go back to the naval base and would visit all the places where sailors were and barked for them to leave. He got into trouble because he travelled without a fare and railway authorities threatened to have him put down. So the navy signed him on as a seaman. This allowed him to travel for free.


Just Nuisance was married to another Great Dane, Adinda, and they had five puppies. Two puppies were auctioned in Cape Town, and postcards and a book about Just Nuisance were sold to raise funds for the war effort.


Just Nuisance used to stop fights between his sailor friends. He would stand on his hind legs and push his huge paws on their chests. But he was a fighter, too, and killed two mascot dogs from other ships. He once got into trouble after sleeping in someone's bed; he was given no bones for a week. Yet he was much loved. Even the Royal Air Force let him ride in their aircraft when hunting for submarines. But the navy did not approve and charged him with being absent without leave.


Australian sailors once smuggled him onto their ship. He was found only after they had sailed. The captain called for a tug boat to collect him and had to be transferred to the tug in a sling.

The end

Just Nuisance became ill after being hit by a car and was put to sleep by a vet on April 1, 1944. He was buried with full military honours, a commemoration day parade is still held in his honour.

Now do this

1 Where did Just Nuisance live?

a. Argentina

b. Holland

c. South Africa

2 What was the name of Just Nuisance's wife?

a. Melinda

b. Adinda

c. Linda

3 When was Just Nuisance born?

a. May 2, 1940

b. August 7, 1938

c. April 1, 1937


1. c, 2. b, 3. c