I had an anthology of short stories from the 70's or 80's. It included a humorous short story about a space fleet captain who received notice of an upcoming inspection of his ship.

After checking his ship he found the only thing missing was an "offog". Despite his best efforts he and the crew could not identify this missing item. To avoid a black mark he sent in a report that the "offog" had broken up due to gravitational stress and the remnants used in the engines for propulsion mass.

After getting notice of a fleet wide emergency grounding of all spaceships he received a notice demanding further details on how the ships "Official Dog" had broken up.

I cannot remember the name of the story, author or the anthology it was in. Any help would be appreciated thank you.

  • 9
    Right here: scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/84295/… – Null Aug 29 '15 at 7:13
  • 1
    @user14111 (et al) - In the absence of a canon confirmation from the OP, our policy is to leave these questions open – Valorum Aug 29 '15 at 8:46
  • 2
    While it's nice to have enough information in the question to make it easy to answer, you could just have Googled for "offog short story", for which the number one result is the correct answer's entry in Wikipedia (and number two is now this question). – Mike Scott Aug 29 '15 at 9:00

It's called Allamagoosa and it's by Eric Frank Russell. Here is a plot summary from Wikipedia:

The story is set on board a military starship, the Bustler, but the tale is comic rather than heroic. The ship's officers and crew are facing an official inspection, and worry about having stores they should not have, or not having something that they should have. Checking, they discover that they are supposed to have an "offog", but no one has any idea what this is, so they create a bogus electronic gadget ("an imposing allamagoosa") and call it an offog to fool the inspecting admiral, pretending that it is a special device to measure the intensity of gravity fields.

As soon as they depart from the starport, they realize that it will be difficult to cheat a more experienced inspector in the future, so the offog must disappear from the inventory. Their great idea is to destroy it and report that it was broken. The captain sends an official report to the central command, explaining that the offog came apart under gravitational stress. Almost immediately, a message of maximum priority from the central command arrives: all starships must return to the nearest spaceport, Bustler included, for an immediate inspection.

Too late, the captain and crew learn that "offog" is a misprint for "off. dog," the ship's official dog, Peaslake, which has spent the whole course of the inventory making a conspicuous nuisance of itself. The animal's collar, drinking bowl, sleeping basket and (the unchewed half of) its cushion were correctly ticked off the inventory list without alerting the crew to their oversight. Obviously the central command is worried about how a dog could come apart, under gravitational stress or not.

| improve this answer | |
  • Welcome to SFFSE! In the future, could you add further details. As it stands this answer would be classified as 'link only'; we prefer more substantive answers to help the OP determine whether the answer is appropriate or not – Often Right Aug 29 '15 at 7:23
  • 3
    And it was previously identified in response to this question, and it can be found in these books or read online here. – user14111 Aug 29 '15 at 7:23
  • Weirdly, that first answer didn't come up when I was browsing, or I wouldn't have answered! But yes, more detail would probably have been appropriate... – user51347 Aug 29 '15 at 7:33

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.