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Flying with BGen Ross Bishop's dog Gus.

30 April 1956
Capt Bob Heitshu

The traditional liaison/communication role was, of course, still very much an Air OP role, and provides the second incident about the Air OP and man's best friend, the dog. Soldiers, in particular, love dogs and will do much for them. The Divisional CRA, Brigadier Ross Bishop and his wife Sylvia owned a frisky, cute Dachshund named Gus. When Mrs. Bishop, who was a very good, avid golfer, was away. on tournaments, Gus would accompany the Brigadier everywhere he went. At the OP on Mattawa Plain, his antics, such as keeping warm by crawling up coat sleeves amused both the Brigadier and all those present.

On 30 April 1956, Capt Bob Heitshu's logbook attests that the Flight Commander, Maj Fromow, called him into his office to inform him that Brigadier Bishop wished to be flown to Ottawa to join his wife who had been playing golf. He should be ready to take off within the hour. The first thing that came to his mind was "Who is going to look after Gus?" He said nothing, but he mused about the question, how do you strap a small dog in a "Bird Dog"?

Half an hour later, the Brigadier arrived in his jeep with good old Gus on his lap with his look that seemed to say, "Where he goes, I go!" A long searching look at his Flight Commander wondering what to do next elicited a resigned shrug. The CO proceeded to help the CRA into the back seat while Capt Heitshu held Gus in his arms until it was time to deposit him gently on the Brigadier's lap. During the run-up and short take-off over the Ammunition Depot into the prevailing east wind, Gus, although familiar with the sound of bursting shells, was not too happy with this new infernal noise and quickly snuggled deeply between the Brigadier's legs.

Capt Heitshu loves dogs, and like a lot of dog lovers, tends to attribute them with having human reactions and understanding. With this in mind, he levelled off as soon as he could in smooth air at about 4,000 feet over Pembroke and throttled back for the short one-hour trip to Ottawa. Gus became a bit more at ease, giving the impression that he wondered where he was and took a look outside. When his tiny face was high enough to look out of the perspex, he gave one startled whimper, and just like any startled human, placed his right paw over his eyes and dropped like a stone back into the folds of his master's greatcoat. He finally resurfaced on landing at RCAF Station Rockcliffe. The most amusing part of this experience was the end of the flight. The RCAF in those days was never quite sure what to make of Air OP Pilots who seemed to be always operating under rules and procedures that seemed odd to them. This was confirmed once more when they taxied to the ramp at Practice Flight. The Group Captain must be still shaking his head when he remembers saluting Brigadier Bishop and Gus, alighting rather ceremoniously for the occasion from Bird Dog Army 701!

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    Compiled by BGen R.G. Heitshu.