Private Jimmy Donovan, a young soldier serving in WWI was stumbling out of a Paris cafè late at night. He had been marching Paris’s 1918 Bastille Day parade earlier that day and was just headed back to the Barracks late that night. He had lost track of time and was well past his curfew. Dovovan knew he would be facing serious consequences for violating the curfew when he returned to base. 

However, Donovan had a stroke of luck as he made his way back when he tripped upon what he initially thought was a pile of rags. After further inspection, he realized that the pile of rags actually was a dog with matted fur. Seeing an opportunity, Donovan then picked up the dog and brought it back to base with him. 

Rebecca's War Dog of the Week: Rags the one-eyed dog – Foreign Policy

Upon returning to his unit he explained to the officers that he wasn’t breaking the rules, he was just recruiting a new mascot for the division! Soon enough the name Rags caught on and he began following Donovan wherever he went. Rags quickly became a favorite among the men in the unit. They would slip him scraps and play fetch with Rags during their downtime. 

Rags true form began to appear when he started to follow Donovan and the unit into battle. Rags was naturally adept at sensing incoming mortar attacks and would flatten himself on the ground whenever he sensed one coming. The soldiers soon learned to hit the ground as well whenever they saw Rags go down. 

As time went on Rags proved his abilities more and more. He soon figured out how to spot broken communication lines and would point them out by pawing at the broken spot. However, his most impressive skill during the war was delivering messages between soldiers. Rags would brave the open battlefield and deliver valuable intel even as enemy gunfire rained upon him.

Rags: World War I Dog Hero - America Comes Alive

Later on, Rags and Donovan were caught in a devastating mustard gas attack during the final American campaign in WWI. The incident caused Rags to be blinded in one eye and deaf in one ear, but he ended up making a full recovery. Donovan however was in much worse condition.

Donovan was scheduled to be sent back to Fort Sheridan in Chicago to be treated for his wounds. Thankfully, others made sure that Rags was smuggled onto the ship that Donovan was being transported home on. 

Unfortunately, Donovan eventually succumbed to his injuries and died in the hospital in 1919. Rags persevered and carried on eventually becoming a favorite at the base. Later on, the Hardenbergh family who lived on the base took a liking to Rags and ended up adopting him. It was his first true home and he spent the rest of his life with them where he was loved very much. 

Rags the Paris Terrier - WWI Mascot | Australian Dog Lover

The story of how Rags the little terrier who brought inspiration to many soldiers lives on to this day. There is even a biography written on him that is linked down below.