Harding officially received Stubby at the White House in 1921; in 1924, the dog passed review for Harding’s successor, Calvin Coolidge, three times. When Conroy studied law at Georgetown University, Sergeant Stubby became the official mascot of the Georgetown Hoyas- shortly before his death in 1926. Smithsonian National Museum of American History, Persians, Greeks, Assyrians, and Babylonians, Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington. He showed up at training camp one day on the grounds of Yale University, and was such a hit with the soldiers that he was allowed to stay (he would drill with them, and even learned to salute). Before he became the most decorated war dog in American history, Sergeant Stubby was homeless: unwanted, unwashed, unloved, and scrounging for scraps on the streets of Connecticut. He’s a decorated WWI Hero, friend to presidents, and a total looker. Another well-known military dog was Sergeant Stubby, a Boston Bull Terrier who served in World War I. Sgt. In 1917, Stubby, a Pit Bull puppy with a “stubbed” tail, was living on the streets of New Haven, Connecticut near an Army training camp at Yale University. According to Bausum, the two reportedly shook “hands.” Four months later, on April 29, 1919, Stubby and Conroy were demobilized at Camp Devens, Massachusetts. Stubby connected with the 102nd Regiment of the 26thDivision while it was training for war on the Yale campus. War dogs weren’t the only area in which the U.S. military was wanting. Stubby was there for the duration. Rags was another notable World War I dog. All rights reserved. But his story is worth revisiting, and not just as a cute, curious footnote. Airedale terriers were considered good messenger dogs. Sergeant Stubby was a pit bull type dog that was found and “enlisted” by Private Conroy during World War I. Yale University’s football stadium was the site of Camp Yale, where the soldiers of the 102nd Infantry, part of the New England–based 26th “Yankee” Division, were doing basic training prior to their deployment. A machinist onboard fashioned Stubby his own set of metal “dog tags.” By the time the troops disembarked in the port of Saint-Nazaire on France’s western coast, Stubby was the 102nd Infantry’s unofficial mascot. He attended the 1920 Republican National Convention, which culminated in the nomination of Warren G. Harding. Here the 26th Division was slated to board one of the largest freighters navigating the Atlantic, the SS Minnesota. Initially, he didn’t serve in an official capacity, but the dog was allowed stay with Conroy, even when he went on assignment as a dispatch rider delivering messages to command posts on horseback. The New York Times describes how Conroy eluded the ship guards by concealing Stubby in his Army-issue greatcoat. The 102nd Infantry headquarters were set up near a dangerous spot 1½ miles north of Mandres-aux-Quatre-Tours. Now you might be wondering how other war dogs end up earning their rank. Stubby’s story begins in 1917, when a young private, J. Robert Conroy found a brindle puppy with a short tail at Camp Yale where his unit was undergoing basic training, according to the Smithsonian. Stubby was described in contemporaneous news items as a Boston Terrier or "American bull terrier" mutt. Stubby, the foundling mutt, was thus an apt mascot for the U.S. forces: unpedigreed, untrained, an underdog. It’s also been said that he is responsible for saving the lives of an entire company! Was he mostly a Boston bull terrier or a bulldog or a fox terrier? Slate relies on advertising to support our journalism. He had reportedly comforted wounded warriors on bullet-strafed battlefields. For nearly a decade after the war until his death in 1926, Stubby was the most famous animal in the United States. He was a nothing dog who became a hero and was honored by three presidents. It is actually customary that all military working canines receive the unofficial title of NCO. The puppy’s short tail gave him a name, and the Army gave him a mission. Stubby’s tale offers a glimpse of the American Army as it prepared to fight its first modern war—and later, of a bruised nation as it commemorated a victory obtained at unthinkable human costs. “Stubby’s history overseas,” a Waterbury, Connecticut, newspaper wrote in 1922, “is the story of almost any average doughboy.” But of course Stubby was not a doughboy, and his renown was anything but average. Out of hiding and free to roam the freighter, Stubby proved popular with the crew. But the very fact of Stubby’s celebrity itself enlightens our understanding of the war and its aftermath. Sergeant Stubby was the most decorated dog of World War I. French soldiers in trench in Northeastern France, circa 1916-1918. Somehow, the dog and his master survived. Among the allies, France had the largest and most diverse dog units. The highest military rank ever achieved by a dog is in fact Sergeant, which is what Stubby was promoted to in combat for his great courage on the battlefield. At the peak of the war, Germany’s dog forces numbered more than 30,000: messengers, Sanitätshunde, draught animals, guards. Stubby’s ears are pointed up, and he wears a gruff expression. Like Rags, Stubby was a stray, and fell in with some soldiers drilling in New Haven, Conn. Cpl. After the war, Stubby was ubiquitous. Saddlebags stocked with water and medical supplies were strapped to their backs. Stubby came home to finish out his life as a normal dog. Although mostly forgotten today, one pit bull, Sergeant Stubby, became the only dog promoted in rank in American military history in recognition of his efforts in warning his unit of poison gas attacks and incoming artillery shells, locating wounded soldiers and capturing a German spy. It was at Chemin des Dames that Stubby reportedly saved the 102nd from a gas attack. A senior officer discovered the ruse. Stubby was later injured by a grenade, but he survived the large amounts of shrapnel in his chest and leg. Sergeant Stubby served as the infantry’s mascot during World War I. Stubby was found wandering the grounds of the Yale University campus in New Haven, Connecticutin July 1917, while mem… We would like you all to meet Stubby, Sergeant Stubby to be more accurate. He was also a mascot at Georgetown University. Stubby’s story started when he was found on Yale University Campus while a group of the 102nd Infantry was training. When the time came to ship out for France, his new friend was not left behind. German Shepherd? Army via Wikimedia Commons. On April 20, near Seicheprey, the Germany infantry led one of its first attacks against American troops. The regiment’s leader, Col. John Henry Parker, was a gruff, intimidating man, a veteran of the Spanish-American War and an expert machine gun tactician who eventually received a Silver Star for extraordinary heroism. The accounts collected in Conroy’s scrapbook broadly sketch the narrative of Stubby’s service that became familiar in the immediate postwar years. In this environment, Sergeant Stubby was an ideal World War I hero, because he was ideally stoic. His presence during recovery is said to have thoroughly boosted the morale of his fellow wounded soldiers. He met Presidents Wilson, Harding, and Coolidge. The book is crammed with documents and ephemera: fan letters, poems, drawings, an invitation to the White House from President Wilson. Miss Louise Johnson and Sergeant Stubby in a parade, May 1921. Photo by Sgt. Surely some measure of his popularity in the postwar period was due to the novelty of a canine hero. 1. He became the first dog to be given rank in the United States Armed Forces. He was excellent in locating the wounded soldiers and getting them help. Stubby later took part in the brutal offensives of Saint-Mihiel, Aisne-Marne, and the Champagne-Marne. And you'll never see this message again. While the rank is obviously not recognized by the military on paper, it’s not unheard of for these well deserving dogs to be awarded with medals, recognition, and sometimes even funeral ceremonies (as we now know, thanks to Stubby the war dog). They established the first military dog school in 1884, and by the start of the Great War, they had almost 7,000 trained dogs. He was the jaunty little creature who could be trotted out for parades, appear with politicians and military brass in photo opportunities, and was guaranteed to stay on message. According to several news reports, he first enters the historical record in July 1917 as an ownerless stray. Conroy named the puppy Stubby, and the pup was soon the unofficial mascot of Conroy’s unit, the 102nd Infantry, 26th Yankee Division. Dogs were part of Attila the Hun’s forces in his fifth-century European conquests. He was a dog of uncertain breed, described in early news stories as either a Bull Terrier or Boston Terrier, with a short stature, barrel shape and friendly temperament. On July 6, 1921, a curious gathering took place at the State, War, and Navy Building on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington. But the dog was also the perfect mascot for a war that had introduced human carnage on a scale never previously seen. The ceremony was presided over by Gen. John J. Pershing, commander of the American forces in Europe during the war. The two were soon inseparable.*. You’ve run out of free articles. The setting for Stubby’s debut was the Yale Bowl in New Haven, Connecticut. These exploits made the dog nothing less than a celebrity. Gen. John Pershing awards Sergeant Stubby with a medal in 1921. The process of demobilization was protracted, and troops stayed on for several months after Armistice. If you value our work, please disable your ad blocker. By June, however, Stubby had recovered and was back in action. The conventional wisdom favored pedigreed dogs: Jack Russell terriers for chasing rats out of trenches; German shepherds, Chiens de Brie, and Alsatian sheep dogs for sentry duty. They took part in four major offensives—Aisne-Marne, Champagne-Marne, Saint-Mihiel, and Meuse-Argonne—and 17 engagements. Pershing made a short speech, noting the soldier’s “heroism of highest caliber” and “bravery under fire.” The general solemnly lifted an engraved solid gold medal from its case and pinned it to the hero’s uniform. He became the first dog to be given rank in the United States Armed Forces. A wondering mongrel, Stubby latched onto the 102 nd Infantry regiment of Connecticut and accompanied it across the major battlefields of the Western Front in World War 1. He even captured a German soldier. The highest military rank ever achieved by a dog is in fact Sergeant, which is what Stubby was promoted to in combat for his great courage on the battlefield. At Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, a soldier who is missing a foot lights a cigarette for a soldier who is missing both arms, circa 1918. The occasion was a ceremony honoring veterans of the 102nd Infantry of the American Expeditionary Forces’ 26th “Yankee” Division, who had seen action in France during the Great War. As documented in history books but largely forgotten today, Stubby was no ordinary stray; he was a tenacious canine, a courageous scout and a fiercely loyal friend. Many of the countries involved in World War I had war dog training schools in place prior to the conflict. Courtesy of the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of American History via Carl Malamud. In 1915, the French government asked Allan Alexander Allan, a Scotsman living in Alaska, to provide its army with sled dogs. He endured an injury from a surprise grenade attack, and proceeded to bravely undergo surgery. The most revealing page in the Stubby scrapbook may be the one in which we find a note, inscribed in Conroy’s handwriting: “Criticism of Stubby which proves he is famous.” It is a single page, but its contents show that Stubby-mania wasn’t embraced by all Army veterans. Stubby’s rage at the sight of a German was reportedly so “savage,” in the words of an Associated Press account, that “it was found necessary to tie him up when batches of prisoners were being brought back, for fear that trouserless Germans would be reaching the prison pens.”, In the Argonne, Stubby sniffed out a lost German soldier hiding in nearby bushes. Stubby went on to become a very brave soldier who won lots of medals before reaching the age of two. For his keen instincts and fierce loyalty, Stubby is still recognized today as the most decorated canine in American history and the first promoted to the rank of Sergeant in the U.S. Army. Describing him as a dog of "uncertain breed," Ann Bausum wrote that: "The brindle-patterned pup probably owed at least some of his parentage to the evolving family of Boston Terriers, a breed so new that even its name was in flux: Boston Round Heads, American...and Boston Bull Terriers." He proved quick to learn. When did Sgt Stubby die? Despite his postwar stardom, Stubby has faded from memory in the century since the war commenced. Correction, May 8, 2014: This article originally misspelled author Ann Bausum’s first name. In December 1922, the New York Times reported that for the first time, the exclusive Hotel Majestic on Central Park had broken its own rules and allowed the dog to stay overnight. According to the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, he was the first dog ever given rank in the U.S. Army. At some point during the turbulent Atlantic crossing, Stubby was found out. Pvt. In September 1917, a few months after Stubby first embedded with the troops at the Yale Bowl, the 102nd prepared to ship out. Baldy sired 28 of the sled dogs sent to France by Allan during WWI. Here the lore of Stubby, as reported by various newspapers, takes on a suspiciously cutesy cast: The story goes that the dog charmed his way into the good graces of the officers who discovered him by lifting his right paw in a salute. Courtesy of Division of Armed Forces/Smithsonian National Museum of America History, On a steamy summer morning, news reports would later recount, Stubby wandered onto the massive field, where the soldiers were doing exercises. “It was enough to make one forget all about the war,” Allan recalled later. Sergeant Stubby among his buddies leading a Legion parade. Sgt Stubby – The War Dog The story of Stubby the war dog begins in the year of 1917, in Connecticut during WW1. Millions of Americans heard tales of Stubby’s courage. After living through a total of 17 battles, Sgt. Persians, Greeks, Assyrians, and Babylonians all used dogs in battle. For his valorous actions, Stubby is recognized as the first canine ever promoted to the rank of Sergeant in … Fighting was so intense that Maj. George Rau, commander of the 102nd, ordered his cooks, truck drivers, and even the marching band into the fray. At the start of the war, the United States was one of the few participants in World War I that did not maintain a canine force. Sergeant Stubby at the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of American History. Other breeds, other times Robert Conroy decided to bring Stubby to France when they shipped out, and smuggled him under his coat. Military canines are to be observed as partners, rather than subservients. Another photo, dated February 1919, captures Stubby in the town of Mandres-aux-Quatre-Tours, in Lorraine in northeastern France. Canines have been utilized in times of war for centuries. Today, he may be the last decorated World War I veteran that you can still see in the flesh. Heavy winter snows in the Vosges Mountains were holding back French supply lines; mules and horses couldn’t breach the impasse to move artillery and ammunition. He met three sitting presidents, traveled the nation to veterans’ commemorations, and performed in vaudeville shows, earning $62.50 for three days of theatrical appearances, more than twice the weekly salary of the average American. The award was not a formal U.S. military commendation, but it symbolically confirmed Stubby, who’d also earned one wound stripe and three service stripes, as the greatest war dog in the nation’s history. When it came time for the outfit to ship out, Conroy hid Stubby on boar… (Perhaps gas masks were to thank—man and dog alike were issued masks, though the New York Times reported that “Stubby’s physiognomy was of such peculiar contour that no mask could afford real satisfaction.”). He was recognized for his acts of heroism in several ways. For capturing an enemy spy, Stubby was put in for a promotion to the rank of Sergeant by the commander of the 102nd Infantry. Stubby was like a character out of Horatio Alger, or a sentimental one-reel silent movie: an orphan who made his way in the world with perseverance and pluck. At one point, the U.S. Army borrowed French-trained dogs for sentry duty, but the plan was eventually aborted because the dogs only responded to commands in French. Red Cross dogs, also called sanitary dogs or Sanitätshunde by the Germans, negotiated battlefields and no-man’s lands to aide wounded men. Sgt Stubby – The War Dog The dog sits in dappled sunlight, in a reflective pose on a wooden chair against a brick wall backdrop. Little Stubby was a stray, who used to hang around the infantrymen who trained nearby his dwelling place. Usually closed doors were flung open for Stubby. The dog gave chase, eventually dragging the soldier back to the 102nd. Stubby the dog, known to many as “Sgt. Known as “Dead Man’s Curve” because the hazardous turn required oncoming vehicles to slow down, the location made easy prey for the German artillery. In the 1870s, the German military began coordinating with local dog clubs, training and breeding dogs for combat. While his trip overseas as a stowaway was not necessarily ideal,  Sgt. Baldy of Nome, famed Alaskan sled dog, and his owner Allan “Scotty” Allan. Courtesy of Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History. The Royal lion hunt reliefs from the Assyrian palace at Nineveh, about 645-635 B.C., housed at the British Museum. In the Middle Ages, knights outfitted dogs with canine armor; Napoleon used trained dogs as sentinels in the French campaign in Egypt. Because they wore the Red Cross symbol, these dogs were, in theory, protected from being shot by the enemy. In one battle, Prusco, a French dog, located and dragged more than 100 wounded men to safety. Stubby got his first war wound at Seicheprey, when a German shell fragment lodged in his left foreleg. In the division of armed forces history at the Smithsonian National Museum of America History in Washington, there is a fascinating artifact, a testament to Stubby’s fame and the swath he cut across American popular culture in the immediate postwar years. All contents © 2021 The Slate Group LLC. Still, not everyone was captive to Stubby’s charms. Sergeant Stubby was smuggled back into the U.S. by Conroy at the conclusion of the war, where he continued to build on his list of things dogs don’t normally get to do. He served for 18 months in World War I as part of the 102 nd infantry, 26 th Division in France. J.A. Later, Stubby was injured during a grenade attack, receiving a large amount of shrapnel in his chest and leg. To the victor go the spoils: The Iron Cross medal that had been pinned to the German’s uniform thereafter adorned Stubby’s Army “coat.”. Ann Bausum, author of Stubby the War Dog: The True Story of World War I’s Bravest Dog, writes that J. Robert Conroy, a 25-old private from New Britain, Connecticut, forged the closest bond with the mutt. When you think of a military dog, what breed comes to mind? Dogs were forbidden in the U.S. military, but Conroy had managed to keep the stray as a pet throughout his three-month training in Connecticut. J. Robert Conroy and Sergeant Stubby at the capitol in Washington. The story of dogs in warfare is an old one, stretching back to antiquity. But given the documentation that has survived, it is difficult at times to separate the actions of the real dog from the mythology that sprung up around him upon his triumphant return with the victorious American Army. Stubby — who was believed to be a Pit Bull mix — was the most decorated war dog in U.S. history. Germany had a long tradition of military dogs and had the war’s best-trained canine force. Stubby, a pit bull type dog, was a hero of World War I. Join Slate Plus to continue reading, and you’ll get unlimited access to all our work—and support Slate’s independent journalism. Let us never forget the protection provided to us by the courageous souls that come inside of a much furrier package, bearing four paws, and a tail. Humble beginnings. And much of the criticism illustrates that commemorating Stubby did often mean neglecting the story of human veterans. Stubby single-handedly captured a German … Sergeant Stubby was the most decorated dog of World War I. The YMCA conferred a lifetime membership on the dog, stipulating that he was entitled to “three bones a day and a place to sleep” for as long as he lived. “Even when the shells were singing, to see a line half a mile long of dog teams tearing down the mountain to the base depot, every blue devil whooping and yelling and trying to pass the one ahead.”. In fact, he earned the rank of sergeant in combat. The Germans claimed victory, leaving 81 Allied troops killed, 424 wounded, and 130 captured. Marshall/U.S. Stubby was a brindle puppy with a short tail. The dog, it was said, “was the only member of his regiment that could talk back to [Parker] and get away with it.”, Stubby remained with the 102nd throughout the training period in Neufchâteau. It was Parker who gave special orders that Stubby remain with the 26th. Stubby was awarded several medals of honor, and even invited visit the White House! Dogs were also a key part of the Red Cross’ aid efforts, and every country had its own unit. In response, the Times reported, the solider “licked his chops and wagged his diminutive tail.” Sergeant Stubby, a short brindle bull terrier mutt, was officially a decorated hero of World War I. Many dogs, including Red Cross dogs, performed heroically. How about a small terrier? Stubby, the hero war dog, is back in the state. Courtesy of Division of Armed Forces/Smithsonian National Museum of America History. Richardson writes: Stubby died in his sleep in Conroy’s arms in 1926. The 26th would end the war as one of America’s most battle-scarred. THE TRUSTED RESOURCE FOR MILITARY FAMILIES, Sergeant Stubby: The Highest Ranking Military Dog in History. The year It is a truism that World War I was the first modern war, but it’s easy to forget what that meant 100 years ago. Stubby”, is one of my favorite artifacts in the Armed Forces History collections.He was the mascot of the 102 Infantry 26th Yankee Division in World War I. While Stubby was hailed with newspaper encomiums and ceremonial pomp, something was being glossed over: the grim details of life in the trenches, poison gas attacks, debilitating war injuries, death. Stubby was found wandering the grounds of Yale Field in New Haven, Connecticutwhile a group of soldiers were training. His taxidermied remains are on view at the Smithsonian, in a crowded display case alongside a mannequin doughboy and another World War I military animal celebrity, the carrier pigeon Cher Ami. The dog hung around as the men drilled and one soldier, Corporal Robert Conroy, developed a fondness for the Boston Terrier. By February 1918, the 102nd was bunkering along the lines of Chemin des Dames, the French-held “ladies path” on the Western Front, nervously anticipating the Germans’ launch of a spring offensive. Later, Stubby was injured during a grenade attack, receiving a large amount of … For capturing an enemy spy, Stubby was put in for a promotion to the rank of sergeant by the commander of the 102nd Infantry. Some say that he was a brindle bull terrier mutt, or pit bull mix, and others believe he was a Boston Terrier mix. Stubby proved himself extremely useful on the battlefield. Stubby lingered around Camp Yale after that first appearance. 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