Sgt. Stubby — who was believed to be a Pit Bull mix — was the most decorated war dog in U.S. history. Here are some interesting things to know about this four-legged hero.
1. Stubby was a stray dog, wandering around a Yale University field, when he was rescued in 1917 by John Robert Conroy, a soldier being trained for World War I combat.
2. Conroy didn’t want to leave Stubby behind when his unit was shipped off to France. He concealed his dog inside an overcoat and smuggled him onto his ship.
3. Once he was discovered, Stubby became the “unofficial official mascot” of the 102nd Infantry, 26th (Yankee) Division in France.
4. He was hit in the leg by a grenade in early 1918, but that didn’t stop him. He kept other injured soldiers company as he recovered. (Perhaps he was the world’s first therapy dog!)
5. Not long after his leg healed and he returned to the trenches, he was sprayed with mustard gas. Did this stop our resilient hero? No way. In fact, he remembered the scent and barked to warn the soldiers of subsequent gas attacks, saving many lives.
6. Not only did his sense of smell save lives, but so did his sense of hearing. He was aware of the whine of artillery shells before the soldiers could hear it, so he would bark to let them know they should take cover.
7. Because he was a lot shorter than the other soldiers, he could easily scoot under barbed wire in so-called “no man’s lands” to bring supplies to wounded soldiers.
8. When a spy began speaking German to Stubby, the dog chomped onto the seat of his pants and held on until his fellow soldiers arrived.
9. He spent a total of 18 months in France, participating in 17 battles on the Western Front.
10. Legend has it that he even saved a little girl from getting hit by a car in Paris by pushing her out of harm’s way.
11. He was the first – and only – military dog to be promoted to sergeant.
12. At the end of World War I, Conroy smuggled him back to the United States, where the dog got a well-deserved hero’s welcome. He met presidents, led parades, and became an honorary lifetime member of the American Legion, Red Cross and YMCA.
13. In 1926, around the age of 10, he died peacefully in Conroy’s arms.
14. He is on display at the Smithsonian Institution in the exhibit, “The Price of Freedom: Americans at War.”
15. Sadly, this hero dog wouldn’t be allowed to live in housing on Army bases in the United States today. Pit Bulls, Rhodesian Ridgebacks, Doberman Pinschers and some other dogs are banned from military housing because these breeds are allegedly “dangerous.” But the only thing “dangerous” is the military’s unfair stereotyping of these dogs.
This story, one of i Still Love Dogs’ most popular, was originally posted on Memorial Day 2015. The computer-animated feature film, “Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero,” was released in 2018 and as of November 2019 is available on HBO.
Photos: Public domain; amhistory.si.edu