In the spring of 1917, a small brindled puppy of indeterminate breeding wandered into a training session of the 102nd Infantry at Yale University. The dog—soon named Stubby for his short tail—made friends with the soldiers and became their unofficial mascot. When it was time for their division to ship out to France, Corporal Robert Conroy smuggled Stubby on board under his coat and then later snuck him off again and into camp. The story goes that when Conroy’s commanding officer found out that Stubby had been taken along, which was against the rules, he let the dog stay because Stubby raised his paw to his eyebrow in a dog salute and won the officer over.
Stubby proved to be a valuable member of the regiment. After falling victim to a mustard gas attack, Stubby became sensitive to the poison and would warn the soldiers whenever he sensed any. He also helped search for wounded soldiers in no-man’s land and was even wounded in a grenade attack. After convalescing in a hospital, Stubby went to work making friends with injured soldiers in the hospital and raising morale. Stubby’s most famous adventure during the war was when he caught a German spy all on his own. He heard the spy and ran off barking to where the man was hidden making maps of the Allied trenches. Stubby then kept the man pinned down until help arrived.
Stubby served in seventeen battles and four offensives and received many medals, making him the most highly decorated dog of the war. When he came home, he was a national hero. General Pershing himself awarded Stubby with a medal, and the dog shook paws with presidents Wilson, Harding, and Coolidge. Stubby marched in and led countless parades, was made a lifelong member of the American Legion and YMCA, and became the mascot of Georgetown University. When Stubby died in 1926 after a full life, the New York Times wrote a three-column-long obituary in his honor. His remains are now housed in the Smithsonian, in Washington DC.