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.
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.
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.
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.