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The Remarkable Story of Pit Bull Sergeant Stubby
By Paul Rance

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Pit Bull Sergeant Stubby achieved much in his eventful life, especially while serving in the US Army in World War One.

Stubby's Rise to Sergeant

Sergeant Stubby served with the US Army 102nd Infantry, 26th Yankee Division in World War One. He was given the rank of sergeant, which was the highest rank any dog serving in World War One achieved. Stubby suffered a serious shrapnel injury in the Great War, through a German grenade, and he was also a victim of a gas attack.

Stubby instantly recognized the smell of gas in future attacks. On one occasion he woke up troops by barking and even biting them, when he smelt gas approaching. The image of this feisty Pit Bull running up and down a trench saving lives is one of the most powerful images of animal heroism in World War One.

Sergeant Stubby
Stubby, wearing his medals, circa 1918 to 1921

Found by Robert Conroy

Private J. Robert Conroy was the man who was really responsible for Stubby's rise to fame. As American troops were training for combat in World War One, at Yale University, Private Conroy discovered a young American Pit Bull Terrier. The brindle Pit Bull mix puppy was given the name 'Stubby', because of his short tail.

Stubby was trained to respond to bugle calls, and even managed a cute doggie salute by raising his right paw. Animals weren't normally allowed in the army camp, but Stubby proved so popular with the troops that this was one rule that wasn't enforced. Stubby was then smuggled onto the ship SS Minnesota by Conroy, which was destined for France. Legend has is that Stubby gave the ship's CO a salute and so was allowed to remain with the troops. As with the soldiers, the sailors were also won over by Stubby's character. Stubby became the Division's mascot, and was destined to serve on the front line.

As well as helping to save soldiers lives, Stubby was given the rank of sergeant after helping to catch a German soldier, who was doing reconnaissance work on the Allies. The soldier called to Stubby, but he responded by barking at and then biting the man. It was believed that Stubby could differentiate between English and German, as he would bark for help when he heard an American soldier calling for rescue, or lead them back to their trench when they were lost.

World War One's Most Decorated Dog

Becoming the most decorated dog in World War One, Stubby served in 17 battles and 4 offensives in 1918. After the Great War, Stubby became a mascot for an American football team in Washington, D.C., the Georgetown Hoyas. He visited the White House twice, and met three presidents. Stubby was also given the Humane Education Society Gold Medal in 1921, and was made a life member of the American Legion, Red Cross, and YMCA.

Fittingly, Stubby died in Robert Conroy's arms on March 16th, 1926. Stubby has a brick in his honour at the Liberty Memorial in Kansas City, Missouri, which was laid on November 11th, 2006. Stubby is displayed in the Smithsonian Institution, alongside another non-human hero of World War One, carrier pigeon Cher Ami.




Copyright © 2018 Paul Rance