A stray pit bull/terrier mix became the only dog promoted to sergeant through combat and the most decorated dog of World War I. The dog made friends with soldiers as they drilled at Yale Field in New Haven, Connecticut. Corporal Robert Conroy in particular took a liking to the dog and named him Stubby because of his short legs. When the soldiers shipped out, Conroy , not wanting to leave Stubby behind, took him on board. Conroy taught Stubby to salute the commanding officers, endearing himself to them.
Stubby served the 102nd infantry, 26th Division in France for 18 months. The noise of the bombs and gunfire did not bother him and he made it his job to go and find wounded soldiers.
Stubby was wounded in an April 1918 battle and sent to the rear to convalesce. After recovering, Stubby went right back to the trenches. During a gas attack by the Germans, Stubby nearly died, but learned to warn his unit of a coming gas attack. With his keen sense of hearing, Stubby was able to hear incoming artillery before his humans and could warn them to take cover.
Later, in the Argonne, a German spy began speaking to Stubby in his native tongue. Stubby understood that something was wrong and he attacked the spy and held him until his unit arrived.
When U.S. troops retook Chateau-Thierry, the grateful women of the town made Stubby a coat, pinning his many medals to it.
At the end of the war, Conroy smuggled Stubby home with him. As a well-deserved celebrity, Stubby marched in many parades across the U.S. He was greeted by 3 Presidents, Woodrow Wilson, Calvin Coolidge and Warren G. Harding. In 1921 along with Conroy, Stubby attended Georgetown University Law Center and became their football team’s mascot.
Stubby was honored with a life membership of the American Legion, the Red Cross and the YMCA. in 1921 the Humane Education Society awarded him a special gold medal in honor of his service to the country. Presentation of the medal was made by General John Pershing.
While Conroy held him gently in his arms, Stubby passed away in 1926. He lies in the Price of Freedom:Americans at War exhibit at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C. At a November 11, 2006 ceremony, Stubby was honored with a brick in the Walk of Honor at the U.S. World War I monument, Liberty Memorial in Kansas City, Missouri.
You can read more of Stubby’s adventures in Isabel George’s book.
- Pets in the Civil War
- Dogs in the Military
- Canine Hero Memorials
- Horses in Warfare
- Cats in the Military