Throwing My Loop…
By: Michael Johnson
In 1939 there was a young
doctor in our home town. His name was Ellis Blair McGee. His
dad had been the only doctor in town for years, and now his
son would be joining the practice...but there was a little
problem. The winds of war were blowing on the other side of
the world – and the young Dr. McGee had an idea.
My father, Cork, was twenty years old at the time, and
his sister had just joined Dr. McGee's practice as a nurse
(where she would remain for 53 years.) Dr. McGee approached
my dad and proposed the following, “Why don't you go enlist
in the Army? If you will do that, I can request you as my
medic. We can stay together and watch out for each other.
Once we have served our year, we can have our military
service out of the way, and come home.” My dad thought that
was a great idea. He would later say, “It took me five years
in Europe with Dr. McGee to serve that year.” But back to
My dad traveled down to the recruiting office on that
day he signed up. The recruiter took care of all the
paperwork and the deal was sealed...or so everyone thought.
The next day, my dad shows up back at the recruiter's
“Forget something?” asked the recruiter. “I hope you
are not going to try to back out. Bit too late for that.”
“No, no,” said my father. “Nothing like that. I just
“And what would that be?” asked the recruiter.
“My dog,” my dad said. “I forgot about my dog.”
My dad said, “At that point, I will never forget that
recruiter leaning back in his chair and saying, 'Oh, I bet
this is really gonna' be good.' ”
For the next ten minutes or so, my dad explained how
his crazy idea wasn't quite so crazy after all. “He's a big
dog. German Shepherd. Almost five now and has his full
growth. My mother and I read in the paper that the army
needs dogs for the K-9 Corps. So here's what I'm thinking,”
he said. “All these young people down there at the boot camp
in Brownsville, Texas - they're gonna' have to stay there
six weeks. They will be homesick. They won't know anybody.”
(Now the recruiter is leaning forward.) “Poochie – that's
his name, Poochie – would be a real morale booster. He's a
friendly dog. You could let him go to boot camp with us.
Some of my cousins are going with me. They all know Poochie.
Now,” my dad said beginning his conclusion, “...if you will
let Poochie stay with us at boot camp, when we are done, my
mother and I have agreed we will give Poochie to the K-9
Corps. Our only condition is that if the dog lives through
the war, you send him home.”
I guess nothing explains the magic of my father like
what happened next. He said the recruiter stared at him for
the longest time not saying anything. Then, he raised one
finger as if to say, “Hold it a minute.” He dialed a number
– talked a while. He hung up and looked at my father again
and grinned. “They are going to consider it.” Three days
later, my grandmother and father were notified that Poochie
would be going to Brownsville with my father and uncles.
After six weeks, Poochie would be taken into the K-9 Corps
with the promise that if he lived through the war, the dog
would be sent home. Poochie became a member of the K-9 Corps
and spent most of his time in Europe and... Poochie made it
home. Four years older, but just fine. My grandmother said
she received two telegrams about Poochie's service during
his time in Europe. He lived until he was 14.
My dad stayed at Dr. McGee's side for almost five
years. After a couple of years back stateside, Dr. McGee
would deliver his son...me. I grew up with my dad and
uncles, Dr. McGee, and stories of Poochie.
No one was ever more fortunate.
Ed. note – Cork on the
left, Poochie, and a friend in 1940 Brownsville boot
camp... doing a trick.
– Michael Johnson
BLUE and MIGUEL
Sharon and Rowdy