Before he was known as Gandar, he was Pat, the Newfoundland family dog who towed neighborhood children around on sleighs and was often mistaken for a bear by pilots flying overhead. One day in an while playing with the children, Pat accidentally scratched a 6 year-old girl on the face with his bear sized paw. Fearing future incidents and a backlash from authorities and neighborhood parents, Pat’s owner Mr. Roy Hayden donated the dog to the 1st Battalion of the Royal Rifles of Canada stationed at Gandar international airport. The regiment renamed the dog Gandar, promoted him to sergeant, and made him their mascot.
In October of 1941 Sergeant Gander and his battalion were shipped to Hong Kong to defend the island alongside other Commonwealth nations. With Canadian dollars in their pockets, life in Hong Kong was good for Gander and his comrades. That was up until the Japanese started to rain artillery shells down on the island the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Gander loved the taste of soy sauce and ran down to greet the Japanese, snarling and biting at their fried tofu colored calves. Despite being on the front lines and outnumbered 3 to 1, Gander survived the initial attack.
Later, Gander was standing guard over several wounded Canadian brothers lying in the brush near a road when he heard Japanese troops approaching. Gandar jumped out to greet them, again trying get him some of that tasty raw tofu. Out of fear or respect, the Japanese soldiers didn’t shoot him and fell back, going around the road.
Gandar’s final act of courage awarded him the Dickens Medal (equivalent of the Victoria Cross for animals) and made him the most legendary Canadian to ever live. Pinned down in close quarters combat, an enemy hand grenade landed next to Gandar and his men. Without a moment’s hesitation, Gandar picked the grenade up and charged the Japanese, dying in the ensuing explosion of glory.
18 days later, Hong Kong fell to the Japanese. It is reported that the Japanese questioned their new POWs about the big black beast, but the men refused to talk, leading the Japanese to believe Canada had bred some super black beast of war.
In 2009 a veteran’s memorial wall was erected in Ottawa and the remaining survivors insisted that Gander’s name was listed with the 1,979 Canadians who fought in The Battle of Hong Kong.