Thursday, June 15, 2017

The Mascot Speaks

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
Unknown soldier with puppy
That I could understand.

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?
I know we’ve got a hell.

Italian soldier with dog on Asiago Plain


  1. I loved this poem. Simple, rhyming,nothing deep to understand, but makes me feel so sad again as to how war affects all. Even the dogs.

    1. Couldn't agree more - thanks for reading, Patty!

    2. Rags, that has to be the dogs name. Our farm dogs were called names such as Tip Wag Boy Spot and so on. Rags must have been a long haired something. Regulations didn't understand that the pets were also a large boost to morale in the tedious trench environment. They also performed their duty well as they had better noses and sharper hearing for danger.

    3. I love your recollection of your farm dogs' names, Alan -- and your perceptive comments on all that dogs did for the soldiers. Thanks for reading and responding.