|Unknown soldier with dog, WWI|
A previous post on this blog (“The Trench Dog”) discussed the important role that animals played in the First World War. A further testament to the comfort and companionship that dogs brought to the soldiers is the poem "The Mascot Speaks," published in March of 1919 in the Stars and Stripes, the American military newspaper that described itself as “By and For the Soldiers of the A.E.F.”
Written by an anonymous American soldier after the war had ended, the poem reminds us that the end of the war brought new hardships to the pets who had been adopted by the fighting men.
The Mascot Speaks
They say I can’t go back with him,
They say we dogs are banned.
They told him that. They didn’t think
I’ve had him pretty near a year,
Since I was just a pup.
I used to be a sort of bum,
And then – he picked me up.
We’ve slept together in the rain,
And snow, too, quite a lot.
Cold nights we kept each other warm,
Some days we ate—some not.
Once he went to the hospital.
I followed. They said, “No.”
He swore a lot and told the doc
Unless I stayed, he’d go.
He’s going to go home pretty soon
And leave me here—oh well—
I wonder if dogs have a heav’n?