Wowser! (You can say that again!)

Wowser, the first dog ever transmitted by Morse code
Wowser, the first dog ever transmitted by Morse code | Source

“Wowser!” Yup. Say it again. “Wowser!”

Wowser!, indeed, for here you see the first canine ever transmitted a distance of greater than 100 miles by Morse code.

I say forget your G4 with the really cool app that lets you locate the hottest new sushi bar within ¼ mile while keeping track of your mother-in-law’s birthday and her address so it can automatically send her a cute but cheap card in time.

And, please! Set aside that tablet pad with the swirls of greasy finger marks all over the screen, if you would! You can do without the latest viral video of the dead drug-head celeb, the flying toaster-pastry cat, the hilarious groin injury, and the dancing baby for just a few more minutes!

Let up with the texting and friending and scrabbling and statusing and poking and downloading for a heartbeat or three!

Look away from those up-to-the-minute marvels and take time to take note of a true technological marvel from our nation’s past!

It was soon after Morse code went global in the 1930s that enterprising dog breeder Wilferd Wumpley of Manassas, Virginia realized something. (It was, in fact, only the second realization of his relatively young life. The first was at age 13, when he discovered he was left-handed.) It was in the early morn of St. Swithen’s Day, 1936 that WW realized he needed desperately to find a better method of shipping spotted mongrel pups half way across the continent. If not, the rising truck and flivver and rail transport costs would soon sink his farmstead doggie mill, his sole means of employment and only source of income.

Being a late-night amateur radio operator who had become quite adept at all the dih-dah-dah-dih-dit of Morse code messaging, Wilferd thought — in a flash of inspiration (well, more like a mere flicker) — if letters and numbers and punctuation could travel electrically along all those wires running down Rural Route 17 through the holler, then why not sires and dams and bitches?

So the suitably motivated Mr. Wumpley began toying and tinkering and tweaking, twisting wires and welding connections. Breeding litters and creating kennels and shoveling puppy chow and picking up poop. Before migrating up the mammalian branch of the animal kingdom’s tree, the methodical Wilferd began small and simple, down near its roots.

His old fourth-grade scold, Mrs. McGillicuddy, was therefore surprised one Tuesday afternoon by the sudden appearance of a nematode in the middle of her half-eaten meat loaf sandwich. Within a month of that bizarre occurrence, the shiny seat of the pin-striped navy suit pants of that nasty Manassas banker, C. Crotchit Carker (who had, unfortunately, yet predictably, turned down Wilferd’s most recent loan application) was mysteriously infested with a batch of biting cockroaches. And, several weeks after that event, Synthiaah Smores, a waitress at a Manassas diner not more than a mile and a half from WW’s farm, discovered a large and happy goldfish in the Soup of the Day.

By year’s end, Wowser had arrived ! — 118 miles distant, barking and tail-wagging, with water dish, leash and collar! (For some unknown reason, his spots remained behind in Kennel #4!) But poor Wilferd could never quite conquer the knack of the wire transfer of money to pay for his pups.

By 1942, another enterprising individual founded PupEx, the first overnight national canine delivery service employing the telephone, and, the rest, as they say, is history.

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