“Born on 1 April 1937 the Great Dane pup was sold to Benjamin Chaney, who moved to Simon’s Town to run the United Services Institute (USI). Many Royal Navy sailors frequented the USI, which was a hostel for sailors ashore. Just Nuisance became very popular among these sailors, who would often feed him treats and take him for walks.
Just Nuisance could reportedly spot a sailor by his uniform and would often follow them around. He would follow them aboard their ships. The HMS Neptune was his preferred vessel. According to legend, he would lie at the top of the gangplank, blocking anyone’s path. This caused sailors to curse him, saying, “You’re just a nuisance, why do you have to lie here of all places?!” And thus, his name was born.
He would often follow sailors onto trains when they went for a “run-ashore” to Cape Town. He became a regular, traversing the trains like an expert. Even when ticket conductors forced him out, Just Nuisance would simply hop from one train station to the next to return home. Ticket conductors sent demands to Chaney to either keep Just Nuisance off the trains, pay his fares or get rid of the dog. The conductors threatened to put him down if he persisted with his antics. Of course, sailors and fans objected. Many wrote letters to the Royal Navy Commander-in-chief to take action. The solution? He enrolled Just Nuisance in the Navy!
On 25 August 1939, Just Nuisance became an official member of the Royal Navy, making him the only dog to ever do so. He commenced his duties in the Royal Navy and was issued with his own sailor’s cap. A special collar was made for him in the Naval dockyard, to which his free pass was attached. Just Nuisance’s official documents say that he was a “Bone-crusher” by trade and that his religious denomination was a “Scrounger”. As with any other member, benefits came with the title. He slept on the sailors’ beds, attended parades and had a free train pass. He was promoted from “Ordinary Seaman” to “Able Seaman” for his valiant efforts. He was quartered at HMS Afrikander and even had his own bunk. A sailor was also put in charge of him to ensure that he was fed, bathed and brushed regularly.
His presence acted as a great morale boost for the sailors during WWII. He was brave, often breaking up fights between sailors by standing up on his hind legs and pushing his huge paws against their chests. He would also chaperone drunk sailors on the train to make sure they made their way home safely.
Just Nuisance became a married man to Adinda, another Great Dane. The pretty pair had five pups together, two of which were auctioned in Cape Town to raise funds for the war effort.
Living up to his name, Just Nuisance had quite the wrap sheet. He incurred infractions for sleeping in a Petty Officer’s bed, losing his collar, and refusing to leave a pub at closing time.
In 1944, Just Nuisance was discharged from the Navy after a motor accident left him with thrombosis which was slowly paralysing him. He was put down on 1 April 1944, to end his pain. His body was draped with the Royal Naval White Ensign and he was buried with full military honours on top of Red Hill. His final farewell included a firing party of Royal Marines and a bugler. The Royal Navy was heavily engaged at the time in fighting the War, nonetheless, a naval signal announcing Just Nuisance’s death and burial was sent to every naval ship and establishment worldwide. A granite gravestone on Red Hill was erected in his honour.” Abridged and adapted from from Cape etc
Do visit his grave and also, his statue, in Jubilee Square overlooking Simon’s Town as there is a lovely view over the bay, as you think about a very special dog.
The Simon’s Town Museum has Just Nuisance’s official papers, his collar as well as many photographs. A special display and a slide show is worth seeing. Since 2000 there has been an annual parade of Great Ddanes from which a lookalike is selected in honour of Able Seaman Just Nuisance.