Some soldiers were training at Yale Field in New Haven, Ct. When “Stubby”, a name he was given, wandered in and spent his time there trotting in and out of the ranks while they were drilling. Stubby, a Bull Terrier, slowly made friends with each one until he eventually had all of them wrapped around his “paw”.
No one ever discovered where Stubby came from, but all the men liked him, and, one soldier in particular developed a special fondness for him. . . . Corporal Robert Conroy who became recognized as Stubby’s particular master and friend.
When it was time for the men to ship to France, Corporal Conroy, with the assistance of the others, hid Stubby on board the troop ship.
Stubby, still displaying a camaraderie with all of the men, accepted Corporal Conroy as his master.
Stubby saw his first action at Chemin Des Dames where it was discovered that he was a superior war dog. The artillery fire never fazed him and it was not long before he did as the men did and ducked when any of the big ones came too close. Stubby could hear the whine of the shells well before the men could so it became the thing to watch Stubby. When he ducked; they ducked.
One very quiet night in the trenches, some of the men caught quiet naps in the muddy dugouts. Stubby was sleeping alongside of Conroy. Very suddenly his ears perked as a sign of alertness. He sniffed the air cautiously and emitted a low growl. Springing to his feet, he bounded from the dugout and out of sight.
Within a few seconds there was a anguished cry of pain along with a scuffle outside. Conroy grabbed his rifle and bounded toward the direction of the noise that had awakened him.
Conroy was stunned at the sight he saw. Stubby had captured a German spy who was wandering through the trenches. The spy struggled unsuccessfully to loosen the grip of this Dog who had attached himself to his derriere, but Stubby was not about to loosen his canine grip.
It took Conroy seconds to capture and disarm the “Hun”, but it took a bit longer to convince Stubby that he could let go.
Stubby was known to every regiment, division, and army as well as the whole American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) by the end of the war. He was honored over and over. He was introduced to President Woodrow Wilson who “shook his paw”. Medals and jackets covered with emblems were bestowed upon him for every valorous deed, plus a wound stripe for his grenade splinter. The Marines actually made him an honorary sergeant.
After the Armistice was signed and Stubby returned home, he was acclaimed a hero and grew more popular than ever. Eventually he was received by Presidents Harding and Coolidge. Stubby was given a medal made by the Humane Society and declared by General John “Black Jack” Pershing to be a “hero of the highest caliber.”
That was not the end for our hero Stubby. He was invited and accepted invitations to tour the country. He led more parades than any other dog in history. The American Legion promoted Stubby to Honorary Sergeant which made him the highest ranking dog to ever serve in the Army.
In addition to being made an honorary member of the American Legion, he was also made an honorary member of the American Red Cross.
The YMCA issued Stubby a lifetime membership card which was good for “three bones a day and a place to sleep”.
When Stubby’s owner, Robert Conroy returned to civilian life, he headed to Georgetown University to study law. According to a 1983 account in Georgetown Magazine, Stubby once again did yeoman’s duty by serving as mascot to the football team. As part of his duties in this capacity, he would nudge a football around the field, during halves. This delighted the crowd.
This wonderful little warrior with such a brave heart finally succumbed to old age, and on April 4th, 1926 he became ill and died in Robert Conroy’s arms.
The bravery of Stubby and a few of his friends inspired the creation of the United States K-9 Corp and just in time for World War II.