Every dog has his day! But, none like Stubby, commonly referred to as Sgt. Stubby. His is a story of exceptional service, trust and loyalty.
Wondering how the story of US’s most decorated dog began? Well, it started in Connecticut, crossed the Atlantic, moved into the battles of World War I, and finally returned home to a hero’s welcome.
Now, that we know where it all began, it’s time we find out who Stubby was and how he became one of the most decorated dogs of the United States of America. When the dog was born, no one knows, but it is believed to have been during the first half of World War I.
Stubby was a dog of uncertain breed, described in earlier news stories as a Bull Terrier with short stature, barrel shape and friendly temperament. Till 1917, he wandered the streets of New Haven, Connecticut scrounging for scraps of food. And following the end of World War I, he had become the most decorated dog in American history.
It was in July 1917 that Stubby’s fortune completely changed when he began hanging around a group of soldiers, the members of the 102nd Infantry Regiment. Among the group was a 25-year-old private named Robert Conroy, who took a liking for the young dog and began to take care of him, calling him ‘Stubby’ for his stature and tail.
During those times, the US military did not have ‘military working dog’, but with Stubby everything changed. And when the unit left for France, Private Conroy took him along in the ship. Interestingly, when a commanding officer discovered the dog’s presence, the dog responded by saluting him.
Stubby was involved in numerous battles, including the second battle of Marne (July 1918) and the battle of Chateau-Thierry (July 1918). The dog’s sharp ears and ability to hear the whine of artillery shells before they landed were extremely useful; he was particularly helpful in locating wounded soldiers in no man’s land. His sense of smell meant that he could easily detect mustard gas attacks: Overall, Stubby was present for four offensives and 17 battles in total, serving for around 18 months.
One of Stubby’s most significant achievements occurred late one night on the western front when he managed to capture a German spy. And for his heroic effort, Stubby was issued an Iron Cross medal that was initially given to the German spy.
Post the war, Stubby returned home to the United States. And here, he was honoured with a medal for heroism from the Humane Education Society and met with President Woodrow Wilson, Calvin Coolidge and Warren G Harding.
Stubby further went on to become the mascot for a sports team at Georgetown University, Washington DC and was given the unofficial rank of sergeant – a rank higher than that of his master. In 1926, Stubby died at home, reportedly in Conroy’s arms.
A dog with such bravery and an inspiring story, it comes as no surprise that his life was made into a film, "Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero".
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