Moncton — Mysterious uniformed figures were recently spotted delicately picking their way around backyards in a northwest Moncton neighbourhood. CFB Gagetown confirmed in a press release that the suspicious people were in fact elite NATO combat engineers, or as they’re also known, “sappers.”
The sappers had been invited by a local instructor to test their landmine clearing skills by opening a path through the horrific mess of semi-solid dog waste that is the typical Moncton dog-owner’s backyard in early spring.
Captain Kent “Kaboom” Caissie, an instructor at the Canadian Forces School of Military Engineering at CFB Gagetown, organized the challenge, jokingly dubbed “Where Angels Fear To Tread.”
“I was giving a NATO-sponsored course with a half-dozen Europeans attending, and Saturday I invited them to come with me to my brother Roger’s place in Moncton for a barbecue, to get them off the base for a day,” said Caissie.
“Roger’s neighbours all have dogs, and the poor animals could barely get around their yards — there was so much shit accumulated from the winter. The guys felt really sorry for them, so on the spur of the moment I challenged them to a test of their mine-clearing skills. Bottle of scotch to the one who cleared the best path in five minutes without stepping in anything.”
Caissie’s guests were each assigned a yard and given a “shit-shovel.” Not too much beer had been consumed yet, which was a good thing.
Caisse said that curses in various languages could be heard with each misstep, as the combat engineers made their way among the patches of ice covered with melting turds and fetid puddles, grimly flipping gelatinous gobs left and right to create a safe passageway for the yard’s soon-to-be-exceedingly-grateful pooch.
“During the winter, people don’t bother cleaning up dog poop — the next snowfall buries it eventually. But the unique thing about the Maritimes is all those deepfreeze-rain-thaw cycles, so the turds are basically frozen goop in layers of ice, and in the spring it all melts together. If it’s a big dog in a small yard, the sheer density is staggering.”
Caissie’s brother Roger said that though each of the NATO sappers have tackled challenging minefields in their day, this was a whole different level of terror.
“The Belgian got sensory overload and almost fainted, and the Brit’s upper lip was trembling the whole time. The poor Italian was stopping every two steps to check his boots. The German kept repeating over and over ‘Mein Gott, how could anyone let it get so hideous?’
“The Spaniard commented afterwards that he couldn’t decide whether to shoot the dogs out of pity, or the owners out of anger. The Frenchman said he was used to just calling in an airstrike for something that bad.”
Roger said that in the end the German won, and passed the bottle of scotch around because everyone needed a couple of stiff drinks, although it wasn’t enough to erase the smell or the images from their head.
“They thought it was an interesting experience, but we ended up taking a pass on the barbecue and returning to the base, as they had all lost their appetite.”