And Now for a Shaggy Dog Story. . .

November 20, 2011

Corbin Rider was the Company Sergeant Major of a British Army Vehicle Depot in Belgium where, for my sins, I spent some time. It was generally agreed that Corbin was in the wrong profession because he was too genial, too good natured, forgiving and too good all–round-nice guy to be a CSM. However, on rare occasions, he would convince himself that he was ruthless and could administer discipline as well as any of the Army’s martinets.

Corbin had a long haired Alsatian dog, Fritzi, to whom he was devoted. Fritzi was similar to his master, in that he was really too sweet and docile to be a bona-fide German Shepherd. The two were inseparable and, on the rare occasions, when the dog could not accompany Corbin, on inspections or on parade, Fritzi would remain in Corbin’s office, front paws on the window ledge, eagerly awaiting his master’s return.

During his brief lapses, into that of would–be disciplinarian, Corbin could be sharp tongued and inclined toward bloody–mindedness. In the course of dressing down someone the CSM would trample on that person’s sensitivity and naturally anger him. On one occasion he offended Yogi Bear. This became memorable purely for what followed.

Yogi Bear was the nickname of the Staff Sergeant in charge of the guard dog section of the depot. The section comprised of a pack of extremely ferocious canine psychopaths, Alsatians, Dobermans and Bouviers who, with a passion, hated each other, all human beings, to include their own handlers, and any moving object in their immediate vicinity. Every night they would be allowed to roam free in the depot precincts to treat trespassers in the same way Hannibal Lecter treated his dinner guests.

Yogi was not, to say the least, the epitome of sartorial elegance when on parade, due to his rotundity. He was understandably sensitive when attention was publicly drawn to this. One particular morning, on parade, Corbin did exactly that. We were all to learn that Yogi was not one of the jolly, happy go-lucky, round individuals with a forgiving nature.

Immediately after this muster parade Corbin went, sans Fritzi, to inspect the billets, returning forty-five minutes later. As he passed he waved to the ever expectant Fritzi, standing at the office window, and entered the building. After opening the door to his office, he tried his usual party trick of throwing his hat, 007 style, across the office to land on his hat stand, beside his desk.

The hat undoubtedly saved him from a bad mauling as Sultan, a drooling, frothing at-the-mouth, four legged anti-social dead ringer, but only in physical appearance, for Fritzi, hurled his one hundred and ninety pounds of muscle, bone, hair and razor sharp teeth, into mid-air to chomp down on the red and blue No 1 Dress Cap and convert it into ragged and uneven shreds. Corbin barely managed to drag the door shut before Sultan engaged the door and wrenched the handle off.

Although he never praised him, CSM Rider nevertheless seemed to be entirely satisfied with Yogi’s turnout on all future parades.

Understandably so.

2 Responses to “And Now for a Shaggy Dog Story. . .”

  1. Sometimes, you just have to take a subtle hint…

  2. Robert Davidson Says:

    . . .administered with a length of lead piping.

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