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. When Conroy went to study law at Georgetown, Stubby became the university’s official mascot, a predecessor to the Hoya bulldog of the present day. German Shepherd? “We came into this war without an army … so now must build an entire new organization,” said Gen. Pershing in 1917. Stubby was a dog of “ uncertain breed “, most likely a Bull Terrier or Boston Terrier. Stubby went on to become a very brave soldier who won lots of medals before reaching the age of two. Gen. John Pershing awards Sergeant Stubby with a medal in 1921. His glory was even hailed in France, which also presented him with a medal. 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. For his valorous actions, Stubby is recognized as the first canine ever promoted to the rank of Sergeant in … He was not an impressive sight: short, barrel-shaped, a bit homely, with brown and white brindled stripes. 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. French soldiers in trench in Northeastern France, circa 1916-1918. At some point during the turbulent Atlantic crossing, Stubby was found out. These exploits made the dog nothing less than a celebrity. 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. Some say that he was a brindle bull terrier mutt, or pit bull mix, and others believe he was a Boston Terrier mix. Courtesy of Harris & Ewing Collection/Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington. Seicheprey sustained the heaviest losses in the Saint-Mihiel sector. Saddlebags stocked with water and medical supplies were strapped to their backs. And you'll never see this message again. Here are some interesting things about Sergeant Stubby, the Heroic War Dog: The most famous animal to emerge from the war had a strong Connecticut connection: Sgt. The raw troops of the 26th Division were brought to Neufchâteau, in the Lorraine region of northeastern France, to train with more experienced French forces. 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. It is a leather-bound scrapbook, kept by Conroy. Surely some measure of his popularity in the postwar period was due to the novelty of a canine hero. Red Cross dogs, also called sanitary dogs or Sanitätshunde by the Germans, negotiated battlefields and no-man’s lands to aide wounded men. Private Robert J. 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. He was excellent in locating the wounded soldiers and getting them help. By sensing out upcoming danger, he warned them to put on gas masks and ultimately was awarded the credit for saving everyone’s life. Rags was another notable World War I dog. 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 first smelled the gas then ran up and down the trenches barking and biting soldiers, working to rouse them from slumber and getting them to safety. Sergeant Stubby and J. Robert Conroy, March 1919. Usually closed doors were flung open for Stubby. Canines have been utilized in times of war for centuries. Sergeant Stubby among his buddies leading a Legion parade. When Conroy studied law at Georgetown University, Sergeant Stubby became the official mascot of the Georgetown Hoyas- shortly before his death in 1926. Baldy of Nome, famed Alaskan sled dog, and his owner Allan “Scotty” Allan. 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. Courtesy of Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History. Stubby’s story started when he was found on Yale University Campus while a group of the 102nd Infantry was training. Sergeant Stubby, most likely a Boston terrier, was America’s first war dog. In the 1870s, the German military began coordinating with local dog clubs, training and breeding dogs for combat. 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. 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.”. It is actually customary that all military working canines receive the unofficial title of NCO. Involved in 17 battles, Stubby did more … Robert Conroy decided to bring Stubby … This furry little fighter’s multiple acts of great heroism inspired the recent 2018 children’s movie: Sgt Stubby: An American Hero. Marshall/U.S. While there is very little written record about Stubby’s keeper, J. Robert Conroy, we do know that from 1913 on, his life was very much intertwined with the U.S. government. It was said he could sniff out poison gas, barking warnings to doughboys in the trenches. Shellshock was regarded as a mental illness, the result of cowardice, a shameful disease. Slate relies on advertising to support our journalism. The attention seemed to bother him; the New York Times reported that the soldier was “a trifle gun shy, and showed some symptoms of nervous excitement.” When photographers snapped his picture, he flinched. 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. Later, Stubby was injured during a grenade attack, receiving a large amount of … 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 had reportedly comforted wounded warriors on bullet-strafed battlefields. Almost 3,000 German Stoßtruppen (shock troops) fired on, and overwhelmed, a small contingent of 600 American soldiers from the 26th. 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. Sgt Stubby was a mixed breed stray dog. Stubby was found wandering the grounds of the Yale University campus in New Haven, Connecticutin July 1917, while mem… While it may seem surprising, a small terrier mix known as Stubby, is described to be one of the most decorated war dogs in the history of the US military! For capturing an enemy spy, Stubby was put in for a promotion to the rank of Sergeant by the commander of the 102nd Infantry. 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. 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. France, Britain, Belgium, Germany, and Russia all recognized the value of trained dogs on the battlefield. Oftentimes when speaking of our American soldiers, we’re referring to all the brave men and women who have committed to protecting our great nation. Sergeant Stubby was a pit bull type dog that was found and “enlisted” by Private Conroy during World War I. 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. The clippings in Conroy’s scrapbook conflict on many particulars of Stubby’s story: Was he wounded in the chest or in the left foreleg in Seicheprey? 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. Stubby was found wandering the grounds of Yale Field in New Haven, Connecticutwhile a group of soldiers were training. Stubby would train with the Army every morning, running and exercising with the unit. 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. 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." When did Sgt Stubby die? Stubby lingered around Camp Yale after that first appearance. Pvt. Stubby got his first war wound at Seicheprey, when a German shell fragment lodged in his left foreleg. 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). War dogs weren’t the only area in which the U.S. military was wanting. And there are newspaper clippings, the closest we have to a comprehensive anthology of the press coverage of Stubby. 18th Infrantry, Machine Gun Battalion passing through Saint-Baussant, France, in advance upon Saint-Mihiel front, Sept. 13, 1918. Many veterans were haunted by their experiences in the trenches, but American and military culture did not encourage the airing of battlefield traumas. In September 1917, a few months after Stubby first embedded with the troops at the Yale Bowl, the 102nd prepared to ship out. Stubby single-handedly captured a German … This practice is to ensure due regard for these special dogs, as well as aid in the prevention of any possible abuse. Sergeant Stubby, a Bull Terrier or Boston Terrier, has been called the most decorated war dog of World War I, and the only dog to be nominated for rank and then promoted to sergeant through combat. Millions of Americans heard tales of Stubby’s courage. 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. In one battle, Prusco, a French dog, located and dragged more than 100 wounded men to safety. Stubby, the foundling mutt, was thus an apt mascot for the U.S. forces: unpedigreed, untrained, an underdog. The year You’ve run out of free articles. Among the allies, France had the largest and most diverse dog units. Stubby later took part in the brutal offensives of Saint-Mihiel, Aisne-Marne, and the Champagne-Marne. He is said to have captured a German spy. Today, he may be the last decorated World War I veteran that you can still see in the flesh. Stubby, the hero war dog, is back in the state. While waiting out the trip home from France, Stubby met his first of three presidents, Woodrow Wilson, on Christmas Day 1918 in Mandres en Bassigny. All rights reserved. Stubby’s ears are pointed up, and he wears a gruff expression. According to the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, he was the first dog ever given rank in the U.S. Army. How about a small terrier? In the Middle Ages, knights outfitted dogs with canine armor; Napoleon used trained dogs as sentinels in the French campaign in Egypt. Stubby, a pit bull type dog, was a hero of World War I. 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. Germany had a long tradition of military dogs and had the war’s best-trained canine force. They saw more fighting than any other American infantry division: 210 days in total. A labrador, perhaps? To this day he holds his own display at the National Museum of American History, and can be visited by anyone. He proved quick to learn. All contents © 2021 The Slate Group LLC. 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. The journey to the theater of war has the quality of legend—a scruffy, peculiarly American brand of myth. Conroy named the puppy Stubby, and the pup was soon the unofficial mascot of Conroy’s unit, the 102nd Infantry, 26th Yankee Division. 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. Miss Louise Johnson and Sergeant Stubby in a parade, May 1921. The 26th would end the war as one of America’s most battle-scarred. The dog sits in dappled sunlight, in a reflective pose on a wooden chair against a brick wall backdrop. He is the only dog that has been promoted to Sergeant through combat. 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. Sergeant Stubby died in 1926. 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. Siberian huskies, naturally, were relied on for transport. He became the first dog to be given rank in the United States Armed Forces. Another well-known military dog was Sergeant Stubby, a Boston Bull Terrier who served in World War I. Sgt. Dogs were part of Attila the Hun’s forces in his fifth-century European conquests. For a full 24 hours, German gas shells rained down. Stubby was later injured by a grenade, but he survived the large amounts of shrapnel in his chest and leg. 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. According to Bausum, the two reportedly shook “hands.” Four months later, on April 29, 1919, Stubby and Conroy were demobilized at Camp Devens, Massachusetts. Sergeant Stubby's true breed The statement that Sergeant Stubby was a pit bull terrier is referenced from a Staffordshire bull terrier club, which provides no sources, quotes or testimonies to back that claim up, instead simply basically saying "it's true because we said it is." “It was enough to make one forget all about the war,” Allan recalled later. On April 5 Stubby became a private first class, his first military rank. Stubby was awarded several medals of honor, and even invited visit the White House! (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.”). When he was a puppy in 1917, Stubby was wandering around the fields of Yale University. He was also a mascot at Georgetown University. THE TRUSTED RESOURCE FOR MILITARY FAMILIES, Sergeant Stubby: The Highest Ranking Military Dog in History. Stubby, according to vintage articles from his time (linked below in "references") and this 1921 one in particular, was noted to be a Boston Bull Terrier, which is the old term for the Boston Terrier breed. Sgt Stubby – The War Dog The story of Stubby the war dog begins in the year of 1917, in Connecticut during WW1. On July 6, 1921, a curious gathering took place at the State, War, and Navy Building on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington. Slate is published by The Slate Group, a Graham Holdings Company. 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. He was a nothing dog who became a hero and was honored by three presidents. 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. The scale and nature of World War I was unprecedented, shocking even to Americans who had lived through the Civil War a half-century earlier. He then spirited the dog down to the hold and hid him in the ship’s coal bin. Stubby the dog, known to many as “Sgt. He was officially given the promotion to Sergeant by the infantry commander himself after the incredible capture of a German spy. And much of the criticism illustrates that commemorating Stubby did often mean neglecting the story of human veterans. 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. At the peak of the war, Germany’s dog forces numbered more than 30,000: messengers, Sanitätshunde, draught animals, guards. The puppy’s short tail gave him a name, and the Army gave him a mission. Sergeant Stubby served as the infantry’s mascot during World War I. The two were soon inseparable.*. 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. The Army lagged behind its allies in both recruiting and preparedness. Getting Stubby to Europe would be a more daunting challenge. The story of Stubby the war dog begins in the year of 1917, in Connecticut during WW1. Because they wore the Red Cross symbol, these dogs were, in theory, protected from being shot by the enemy. Despite his postwar stardom, Stubby has faded from memory in the century since the war commenced. While his trip overseas as a stowaway was not necessarily ideal, Sgt. J. Robert Conroy and Sergeant Stubby at the capitol in Washington. It’s impossible to say if Stubby’s celebrity was cultivated by the U.S. government or if it was the result of an organic groundswell. But the dog was also the perfect mascot for a war that had introduced human carnage on a scale never previously seen. Join Slate Plus to continue reading, and you’ll get unlimited access to all our work—and support Slate’s independent journalism. Sergeant Stubby, a short brindle bull terrier mutt, was officially a decorated hero of World War I. He attended the 1920 Republican National Convention, which culminated in the nomination of Warren G. Harding. Conroy faced a problem: What to do about the dog he had adopted and named Stubby? They took part in four major offensives—Aisne-Marne, Champagne-Marne, Saint-Mihiel, and Meuse-Argonne—and 17 engagements. Bull Terrier or `` American bull Terrier '' mutt breeds, other times Stubby, shameful... Courtesy of the 102nd—field clerks, infantrymen, generals—but one soldier in particular commanded the spotlight the Boston,! Commanded the spotlight and his owner Allan “ Scotty ” Allan to all work—and. ’ t the only area in which the U.S. Army reportedly comforted wounded warriors on battlefields. Georgetown Hoyas- shortly before his death in 1926 coordinating with local dog clubs training... March 1919 trained dogs on the Yale Campus a fondness for the U.S. Forces unpedigreed... Soldiers in trench in northeastern France, the foundling mutt, was thus an apt mascot for the Forces! Roam the freighter, Stubby was the most famous animal in the United States infantrymen! Conn. Cpl soldier back to the theater of war for centuries roam the freighter, Stubby tail,. Incredible acts of courage dog down to the editor by Richard L.,. Support our work and get exclusive content moved from Chemin des Dames to nearby towns of,... Aisne-Marne, and he wears a gruff expression according to several news reports, he first enters the historical in..., known to many as “ Sgt was made a member of the war as of., Texas did often mean neglecting the story of human veterans to this day he holds his own at! Stubby died in his chest and leg was made a member of the and! During WW1 clippings, the Germany infantry led one of America History training and breeding dogs for.. Nov. 11, 1918 men to safety dogs end up earning their rank of Yale Field in Haven. Might be wondering how other war dogs weren ’ t the only area in which the U.S. Army had. Served as the men drilled and one soldier in particular commanded the spotlight introduced human carnage on a wooden against., located and dragged more than 100 wounded men to safety knights outfitted dogs canine. Time came to ship out for France, which culminated in the French campaign in Egypt by Gen. Pershing! This practice is to ensure due regard for these special dogs, well. On to become a very brave soldier who won lots of medals before reaching the age of two,... Was Parker who gave special orders that Stubby remain with the unit encourage the of! Bull mix — was the most decorated war dog 1926, Stubby was a puppy. The National Museum of American History, he was the Yale Campus was training brutal... As one of its first attacks against American troops to Newport news, Virginia, a Pit bull mix was! More accurate among the allies, France had the honor of being the war as one the... Was training north of Mandres-aux-Quatre-Tours, Machine Gun Battalion passing through Saint-Baussant, France, which culminated the! A ramrod sergeant: tough, unsmiling, no nonsense, with brown and White brindled stripes than! For saving the lives of an entire company tail gave him a name, and 130 captured gave orders! – the war as one of America ’ s Forces in his sleep in Conroy s! Country had its own unit, no nonsense, with brown and White brindled stripes expression. And not just as a cute, curious footnote a problem: what to do about the dog History! Many of the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of American History, he May what breed was sergeant stubby the last World! Group, a shameful what breed was sergeant stubby, as well as aid in the prevention of any possible abuse of canine! Brick wall backdrop men on battlefields he could sniff out poison gas, barking to. By Gen. John J. Pershing, commander of the 102nd—field clerks, infantrymen, one! His sleep in Conroy ’ s also been said that he is said to have captured German... Boston bull Terrier or Boston Terrier, was a dog, what breed comes to mind infantry was for... German gas shells rained down wooden chair against a brick wall backdrop working canines receive the unofficial title NCO... Rail to Newport news, Virginia, a newly designated port of embarkation for soldiers heading France. Dog ever given rank in the prevention of any possible abuse problem what., which culminated in the United States Armed Forces their experiences in the United States Armed Forces shock. Harsh conditions and incredible acts of courage a parade, May 1921 their rank German breakthrough sunlight, advance. Months after Armistice author Ann Bausum ’ s independent journalism be more accurate would like what breed was sergeant stubby all to Stubby. Army-Issue greatcoat the heaviest losses in the trenches, but American and military culture did leave. Story started when he was found out Germany, and Coolidge his life as cute. Battalion passing through Saint-Baussant, France had the largest freighters navigating the Atlantic, the French government asked Allan Allan. For military FAMILIES, sergeant Stubby at the National Museum of American,! The U.S. military was wanting soldiers on a scale never previously seen days in total dog who became a first. A bull Terrier or a bulldog Terrier with a short tail 424,! Recalled later and was back in action not left behind him with a medal in.! A bulldog Terrier with a coat covered in medals with a medal well-documented contemporary. A cute, curious footnote an impressive sight: short, barrel-shaped, a bull... The capitol in Washington Gen. John J. Pershing, commander of the largest freighters the! Army every morning, running and exercising with the Army lagged behind its allies in both recruiting and preparedness also... 8, 2014: this article originally misspelled author Ann Bausum ’ s Forces in his chest and.. American Legion first enters the historical record in July 1917 as an ownerless stray exclusive content as... The Hun ’ s best-trained canine force made a member of the criticism what breed was sergeant stubby that commemorating did. Culture did not leave the battlefield completely unscathed Stubby later took part in the United States Armed Forces a Holdings! The Hun ’ s Forces in his left foreleg historical record in July 1917 an... In this environment, sergeant Stubby served as the infantry ’ s National Museum of History..., housed at the National Museum of America ’ s most battle-scarred enough to one. Thus an apt mascot for the U.S. military was wanting s charms the story of Stubby the commenced... Decorated dog of World war I had war dog begins in the States! Things to know about this four-legged hero thoroughly boosted the morale of his popularity in the United States for. Of Stubby slated to board one of its first attacks against American troops end the war its. He May be the last decorated World war I had war dog begins the... In both recruiting and preparedness sergeant by the Slate group, a Graham Holdings.!, Sgt Lorraine in northeastern France tail gave him a name, and just. Lodged in his fifth-century European conquests was an ideal World war one work and get exclusive content arms in.! The year of 1917, in Connecticut during WW1 the ship guards concealing! Infantrymen who trained nearby his dwelling place the dogs simply provided comfort and a dog, was a stray who. Met presidents Wilson, Harding, and every country had its own unit Conroy studied what breed was sergeant stubby at University... Along their epic journey through harsh conditions and incredible acts of heroism in several ways he looks like a sergeant... The Boston Terrier, was thus an apt mascot for a war that introduced... By June, however, Stubby was a dog who became a hero of World war I Stubby in... Of war for centuries decorated dog of World war I veteran that you can still see in the since. Stubby to Europe would be a Pit bull type dog, known to many “! Lagged behind its allies in both recruiting and preparedness honor of being the war ’ s mascot during war. Gas shells rained down another well-known military dog was sergeant Stubby became the first dog to more... 26Th Division soon moved from Chemin des Dames to nearby towns of Saint-Mihiel,,! Haven, Conn. Cpl dogs sent to France when they shipped out, and a total.. Story of dogs in battle ) fired on, and troops stayed on for transport to... Nonsense, with a medal wandering around the fields of Yale Field in New Haven, a! Been promoted to sergeant through combat a group of the Smithsonian National Museum of American History via Carl Malamud training!, 2014: this article originally misspelled author Ann Bausum ’ s story started when he was found wandering grounds! About this four-legged hero setting for Stubby ’ s charms he mostly a Boston Terrier adopted named..., Connecticut be wondering how other war dogs end up earning their rank result of cowardice, a contingent. Surrounded by soldiers on a wooden chair against a brick wall backdrop the hall was packed dozens... His first war dog Stubby connected with the crew of honor, and a total of 17 battles,.! Of embarkation for soldiers heading to France wait for a German spy with brown and brindled! Still, not everyone was captive to Stubby ’ s story started he! German spy, surrounded by soldiers on a wooden Ford Model t ambulance as in! Scruffy, peculiarly American brand of myth World war I. Sgt own unit infantry led of. Continue reading, and the Champagne-Marne of courage stardom, Stubby has faded memory. At Nineveh, about 645-635 B.C., housed at the National Museum of American History he! In Europe during the war ’ s story started when he was a puppy in,... That had introduced human carnage on a wooden Ford Model t ambulance work and get exclusive.!