On a fateful day in 1917, a stray pit bull mix wandered onto the Yale University campus while members of the 102nd Infantry Regiment were training. This lost pup fit right in, participating in drills and even learning to salute with his right paw. He won the heart of Private J. Robert Conroy who adopted the dog, dubbed him Stubby. (because of his short, stubby tail) and smuggled him to the trenches in France.
It was there that Stubby was exposed to mustard gas. After he recovered, he returned to the frontlines with his own specially-designed gas mask. This exposure, combined with a dog’s heightened sense of smell, allowed him to warn the 102nd of imminent poison gas attacks. He also learned how to locate wounded soldiers during patrols. This brave mascot earned the rank of sergeant after he spotted a German spy and attacked the bewildered man until reinforcements arrived. In his 18 months of service, Stubby participated in 17 battles, survived a series of wounds and provided a much-needed morale boost to his fellow soldiers.
After the war, the decorated hero made his way back to the United States with Conroy (the dog now outranked his owner) becoming a national icon, leading parades and receiving awards until his death in 1926. Stubby’s body was donated to the Smithsonian in 1956, where he is still on display to this day.
We honor you, Stubby.