Pat Wahler

Penning stories to savor.

A Dog Like Sergeant Stubby

Dogs have been helping humans since ancient times. It’s not surprising. Ever since the first wolves crept closer to campfires to become part of the family, dogs have aimed to please their people.

Yet not all dogs have a story like Stubby’s.

In 1917, Stubby, a brindle-coated terrier mix puppy, wandered into an encampment of soldiers training for their upcoming mission to fight for the allies in France during World War 1. The men of the 102nd Infantry became so attached to the little guy, they smuggled him on board while shipping out on the S.S. Minnesota. Legend has it when the commanding officer discovered Stubby’s presence, Stubby charmed the man with a modified dog-salute soldiers had taught him to perform. The commanding officer decided to bend the rules decreeing no animals allowed.

Stubby with jacket and a few of his medals. (National Museum of History)

A big dog in a small but stocky body, Stubby wasn’t only a morale lifter. He found a German spy and chomped on to the man’s pants, holding tight until his pals could complete the capture. He alerted the troops to mustard gas attacks and detected incoming artillery fire before the shells exploded. Stubby located wounded men, and was, himself, wounded by a grenade. Stubby survived his injuries, and was soon elevated to the rank of Sergeant.

At war’s end, after serving in seventeen battles, Stubby’s primary caretaker, J. Robert Conroy, smuggled Stubby out of France the same way he’d helped smuggle him in.

But did Stubby relax into a quiet and well-deserved retirement? Not on your life.

He became a proud symbol of America’s war effort. Stubby led parades. Organizations such as the American Legion, Red Cross, and Y.M.C.A. made him a lifetime member. Honored by generals and presidents, Stubby received countless awards and traveled extensively to visit his adoring public. Hotels even lifted their ban on dog guests whenever Stubby came to town.

Stubby receiving a medal from General Pershing-1921. (National Museum of History)

Stubby leading one of many parades. (National Museum of History)

As though all that weren’t enough, when Private Conroy went to law school, Stubby became mascot of the Georgetown Hoya’s football team. Between halves, he’d scamper around the field using his nose to push a football, to the crowd’s delight. There is even speculation Stubby’s performance may have put a glimmer in someone’s head about the idea of a half-time show.

Before Beyonce and Madonna, there was Stubby. (National Museum of History)

This mighty little warrior passed away in 1926 at approximately ten years of age. Click HERE to read Stubby’s impressive and slightly poetic obituary (it took up a half-page) in the New York Times. Not many humans have received such a sendoff.

Stubby’s remains and the details of his story are preserved and on display at the Smithsonian. He’s one impressive canine, isn’t he?

Well, as you might imagine, I couldn’t wait to tell Winston all about Stubby, hoping to impress my own dog into performing amazing acts of courage in the face of frightening events.

Winston’s response to performing amazing acts of courage in the face of frightening events. 

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  1. Wow! Stubby lived quite a life!

  2. Pat Wahler

    March 3, 2017 at 12:42 pm

    Sarah, the enemy must have considered him quite a “terrierist”.

  3. Well, Winston has a huge calling to live up to his namesake. “Stubby” doesn’t sound much like a hero’s name. But both are heroic in their own ways. Hmm. Something to think about when naming characters.

  4. Pat Wahler

    March 3, 2017 at 4:13 pm

    Marcia, you’re absolutely right. Names are important, although Sgt. Stubby certainly set the bar high with his deeds.

  5. Stubby was an amazing dog! thanks for sharing his story
    Mr Bailey, Hazel & Mabel

  6. What a wonderful dog, such a sweet little face too.
    Haha, I don’t really blame Winston, that would be my reaction too!
    Lynne x

    • Pat Wahler

      March 4, 2017 at 7:11 am

      Lynne, Winston likes to think he’s a tough guy, but when it comes right down to it…

  7. Pat–Thanks so much. Your posts are always entertaining, and sometimes they’re even educational, like this one.

    I think Winston is a smart dog. He knows that danger might result in injury or death, and he has too good of thing, living life in the Wahler house, to put that in jeopardy.

    Stubby was meant for the military. Winston’s meant for MENSA.

    • Pat Wahler

      March 6, 2017 at 7:19 am

      Sioux, your final line made me giggle. I don’t know about Winston and MENSA, but Stubby definitely found his career path.

    • Pat Wahler

      March 6, 2017 at 7:20 am

      Donna, that little dog amazed me–and it sounds like for the most part he trained himself!

  8. What a delightful tail . . . er, tale! I’ve heard of Sgt. Stubby but confess I had no clue who he was until now. And now I have to go learn more about him. Thanks for a great post, Pat.

  9. I saw his story a while back and was deeply impressed! Thanks for sharing this, and reminding us that animals play important roles in this world.

    • Pat Wahler

      March 12, 2017 at 2:53 pm

      Mary, so great to hear from you! Animals do many things to help people, and Stubby is an amazing example.

  10. Lynn Obermoeller

    March 15, 2017 at 3:00 pm

    If I had a dog, he’d probably be as brave as Winston! I’ve watched a documentary on Stubby before – amazing. Aren’t animals something?

  11. That photo of Stubby is something. I can’t wait to show Katie and tell her about Stubby! She loves dogs. Great story I hadn’t heard before.

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