The story of how a short Boston Terrier became America’s most decorated war dog starts in Connecticut in the year 1917. The dog that would be later known as Stubby had humble beginnings in the town of New haven. There he wandered the streets mostly looking for food scraps and a scratch behind the ear. Until July of that year when he took a liking to a group of soldiers who were members of the 102nd Infantry Regiment. As they trained on the grounds of Yale University Stubby would follow them around and watch them train for the cobet ahead that faced them.
After Stubby came back day after day, a young soldier named Robert Conroy who especially liked Stubby, assumed that he had no home and decided to take the dog under his wing. Although dogs weren’t officially part of the military at that point, Stubby’s friendly demeanor and instinct instantly made him a favorite among the soldiers. By the time it came for the soldiers to deploy Stubby was sufficiently trained for combat and he even knew how to raise his paw to make a saluting motion.
The soldiers decided to stow Stubby on board the ship that was transporting them to their assignment in France. However, along the way Stubby’s presence was discovered by a commanding officer who was not happy to see a stray dog in the midst of his division. Stubby responded to the officer with a salute of the paw which left the officer stunned, cementing his place as the official mascot of the Yankee division.
Over the course of the next 18 months, Stubby proved his worth way beyond saluting with his paw. His keen ears allowed him to hear the whine of artillery shells in advance, giving the soldiers a much-needed warning. His natural sense of smell also proved extremely useful as he could easily detect incoming mustard gas attacks. This proved vitally important when he saved an entire company on the battlefield by alerting them to the imminent attack allowing the soldiers to equip their gas masks in advance. During his time in combat, he served in a total of 17 battles during WWI!
Perhaps Stubby’s most impressive feat came one night as he stood guard in the trenches when he heard a commotion break the night’s silence. Stubby then took off into the night and tracked down a German spy who then tried to deceive the dog. These efforts proved to be unsuccessful and Stubby jumped at the German, clinging onto him until the other soldiers arrived who were then able to capture and imprison the spy.
After Conroy and Stubby’s time was up serving they then returned to America where they were met with praise from the public. Stubby was awarded many medals and eventually given the unofficial rank of sergeant which superseded his master’s rank.
For the rest of his days, Stubby was loved and lived the rest of his life in peace. Eventually in 1926, Stubby passed away at home in Conroy’s arms. Stubby’s bravery and heroic acts live on to this day, he even has an animated movie based on his story which is linked below!