The Story of Stubby

As documented in the history books but largely untold today, Stubby was no ordinary stray: he was a tenacious canine, a courageous scout, and a fiercely loyal friend who forged an everlasting bond with the doughboys of the Great War.

After the United States formally entered World War I in 1917, a massive military buildup began almost overnight. Storefronts became induction centers for young men to join the fight, back yards became “victory gardens” to avoid wartime food shortages, parks and schools became training grounds to convert ordinary citizens into combat-ready Soldiers…

That’s when our boys became doughboys.

In New Haven, Connecticut, the 102nd Infantry Regiment – part of the 26th "Yankee" Division – was drilling on the grounds of Yale University. Private First Class Robert Conroy noticed a small brindle mutt wandering around the field, watching the Soldiers and searching for scraps of food. He and his fellow doughboys developed a fondness for the dog, giving him a name that matched his unassuming personality and short, constantly-wagging tail: Stubby.

When the Yankee Division got orders to ship to France, Stubby somehow managed to find his way aboard. When he was discovered, the scrappy little stray demonstrated his military training by saluting the commanding officer.

That’s when Stubby became the official division mascot.

Stubby saw action in 17 different battles and received critical wounds during a chemical attack. When he recovered, his heightened sensitivity gave him the ability to detect incoming attacks and alert Conroy and his brothers-in-arms. He could also discern English from German speech, leading medics to wounded Americans on the battlefield. After catching a German spy in the Yankee Division’s trenches, Stubby was promoted to the rank of Sergeant, the first dog to be promoted in combat.

That’s when Stubby became a war hero.

After the war, Stubby and the Yanks returned stateside. He led parades through New York, Boston, and Washington D.C. He also met three U.S. presidents and received numerous medals for heroism, earning Stubby the designation as the most decorated dog in U.S. Army history.

Robert Conroy attended law school at Georgetown University and brought Sgt. Stubby along to attend pep rallies and sporting events; the Georgetown Hoyas mascot is a likeness of Stubby to this day.

Sgt. Stubby died in 1926 and his remains were donated to the Smithsonian Institution, where he is currently featured as part of the “Price of Freedom” exhibit in the National Museum of American History.

That’s when Stubby became a national treasure.

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