Gulf War Dog Stories
Sniffles: Dog Of Duty
by Erica Lobo
Sniffles, a badly treated Golden Retriever mix was turned in to the SPCA.
Yolanda Wise, a pro-dog trainer in Sacramento, came to the shelter with her life partner Judy, looking for a twelfth dog she could train as a family pet. She hoped for a regal dog, like their pedigreed German Shepherd, Tantor.
But they chose Sniffles, a playful little rascal who charmed Judy when he sat up and begged to be taken home.
At first, Sniffles caused all kinds of trouble for the couple - hiding their cigarettes, chewing their sports bras and attacking the TV every time Daryl Hannah came on. But Yolanda's firm and patient training methods paid off, and Sniffles became a welcome addition to their home.
... there where even bumper stickers on tanks ...
Soon after, Yolanda and Judy went to live in Kuwait and opened a training school. When Yolanda got a call for a dog that could appear in U.S. Government training videos, she was sure that Tantor would be perfect. But once again, Sniffles stole the show - and the hearts of the Department of Defense.
Using the stage name of "Soldier", he was shown putting on gas masks, receiving vaccines, etc. After each
explanation of some military health or safety tip, his co-star, General Welfare, would ask, "Get it, Soldier?" This buzz-phrase soon captured the imagination of our Gulf War boys, much like Jim Carrey’s "Allrightythen!" had with U.S. civilians. Sniffles was on Armed Forces TV and Radio daily. He appeared in Stars and Stripes, Preventative Maintenance magazine, and there where even bumper stickers on tanks.
...pampered like a hero...
As the war heated up in the Persian Gulf, Yolanda and Judy decided to return to the U.S. The Department of Defense insisted Sniffles remain a few months longer, to fulfill the remainder of his military contract. When he finally left the region, there was a huge farewell party on board an aircraft carrier, attended by U.S. top brass and three ministers of the Kuwaiti government.
Sniffles, an unwanted and discarded dog at the SPCA, was pampered like a national hero!
After Sniffles returned stateside, his health began to deteriorate. He developed flu-like symptoms. Strange spots appeared on his legs, which soon spread to other body parts. Then his eyes swelled shut and his lips bloated until the skin cracked. When that malady cleared up, his joints developed an arthritis-like inflammation.
During the next three years, Sniffles became unsteady on his feet, increasingly tired and often disoriented, losing his way from the water dish to his favorite tree.
... Yolanda and Judy had to stop breeding ...
The syndrome appeared to be contagious. Yolanda and Judy had to stop breeding Sniffles when their bitches experienced abdominal cramping and intense burning sensations, as though their genitals were being torched. Sniffles' genitals burned as well, causing open sores and blisters that bled.
Some puppies were born with extra toes and tails, underdeveloped lungs, and missing body parts.
... It sent a shock wave all the way up to the President ...
Eventually Sniffles and all eleven of Yolanda and Judy’s other dogs had to be put down.
When high-ranking officers in the Department Of Defense heard of Sniffles’ (a/k/a "Soldier’s") passing, it sent a shock wave all the way up to the President.
The United States Government accepted full responsibility for the horrible syndrome’s effect on a pooch that devotedly served his country. Military transports rolled up to Yolanda and Judy’s home and unloaded $13.5 million in gold bars on their driveway.
Actor Darryl Gamon - "General Welfare" himself - presented the couple with a certificate ensuring lifetime health care for them and all dogs that would later be in their care.