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Honoring the Heroic Canine: Sergeant Stubby

Sergeant Stubby c. 1920


The Courageous Sergeant Stubby

In the midst of the chaos of World War I, a remarkable canine companion named Sergeant Stubby emerged as a symbol of courage, loyalty, and unwavering devotion. His battlefield exploits and unbreakable bond with soldiers captured the hearts of many.

Join us on a journey to explore the incredible life of Sergeant Stubby, a true hero whose legacy continues to inspire.


Private Conroy’s Fateful Encounter

Sergeant Stubby’s incredible tale began when he was found wandering the grounds of the Yale University campus in New Haven, Connecticut, in July 1917. At the time, members of the 102nd Infantry were undergoing training, and Stubby quickly became a fixture among the soldiers. He was described in contemporaneous news items as a Boston Terrier or “American Bull Terrier” mutt, though his exact breed composition remained uncertain.

As the men drilled, Stubby formed a special bond with Corporal James Robert Conroy, a young soldier who developed a deep fondness for the friendly and spirited dog. Conroy’s affection for Stubby grew stronger each day, and when the time came for the outfit to ship out to France, he couldn’t bear the thought of leaving his four-legged friend behind.

Determined to keep Stubby by his side, Conroy devised a plan. He carefully concealed Stubby on board the troop ship, ensuring that their separation would be temporary. Under the cover of darkness, as they disembarked in France, Conroy concealed Stubby under his overcoat, successfully evading detection. Little did they know that this act of loyalty would set in motion a remarkable series of events.

Upon the discovery of Stubby by Conroy’s commanding officer, the ever-resourceful dog instinctively saluted him, just as he had been trained to do during their time in camp. To everyone’s surprise, the commanding officer was so impressed by the dog’s display of discipline and obedience that he allowed Stubby to remain on board. From that moment forward, Stubby officially became a part of the 102nd Infantry, serving alongside his beloved human companions.


From Mascot to Battlefield Warrior

As Stubby adapted to military life, he quickly transcended his role as a mere mascot. His sharp instincts, intelligence, and unwavering loyalty endeared him to the soldiers. Stubby’s training went beyond the basics, as he learned military drills, responded to commands, and even saluted his superiors. His presence became a morale booster, and his comrades soon regarded him as a trusted comrade, not just a mascot.

Sergeant Stubby fearlessly accompanied his human comrades to the front lines, participating in 17 battles during World War I. His keen senses and remarkable intuition aided the soldiers in ways no one could have anticipated. Stubby’s ability to detect enemy gas attacks before they occurred became legendary, as did his unwavering resolve to protect and comfort the wounded, providing a glimmer of hope amid the horrors of war.

Sergeant Stubby
Sgt. Stubby wearing his coat, dog tag and medals.


A Battle-Scarred Hero

Stubby’s bravery often led him into the line of fire, and he endured wounds from shrapnel and gas attacks. His injuries did not deter him from fulfilling his duties, and he continued to inspire and uplift the soldiers with his unwavering determination. Stubby’s resilience and courage in the face of adversity were a testament to his extraordinary character.

Stubby’s extraordinary contributions to the war effort did not go unnoticed. He received numerous medals and accolades, including the Purple Heart for injuries sustained in battle and the French Croix de Guerre for his exceptional bravery and service. Stubby’s fame extended beyond the military, capturing the attention of the American public. Parades were held in his honor, and he became a beloved national hero.

Sergeant Stubby
Gen. John Pershing awards Sergeant Stubby with a medal from the Humane Education Society at a White House ceremony, 1921

After the war, Sergeant Stubby returned home to a hero’s welcome. His remarkable story captivated the nation, and he embarked on a new chapter as a symbol of loyalty, bravery, and the unbreakable bond between humans and animals. Stubby met presidents, dignitaries, and celebrities, leaving an indelible mark wherever he went.

Stubby peacefully passed away in March 1926, but his legacy lives on. His body was preserved through taxidermy, with his cremains sealed within the mount. In 1956, Conroy presented Stubby to the Smithsonian, where he became part of the permanent collection at the National Museum of American History. Today, you can admire Stubby’s taxidermy mount in the museum’s “Price of Freedom: Americans at War” exhibit.


Sergeant Stubby: The Movie

Sergeant Stubby’s remarkable story has not only captivated history enthusiasts but has also made its way onto the big screen. “Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero” is an animated feature-length film that brings Stubby’s adventures to life, showcasing his bravery and highlighting the impact of his service during World War I. The film was theatrically released on April 13, 2018, and features a star-studded cast, including the voices of Logan Lerman, Helena Bonham Carter, and Gérard Depardieu. The music for the film was composed by Academy Award nominee Patrick Doyle, lending depth and emotion to Stubby’s journey.

“Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero” was animated by the renowned studio Mikros Image and produced by the Irish-American studio Fun Academy Media Group. The film received widespread acclaim from film critics and audiences alike. It was officially endorsed by several high-profile institutions, including the Humane Society of the United States, the Armed Services YMCA, the Westminster Kennel Club, and the United States World War One Centennial Commission.

While the film faced some initial challenges during its nationwide release, it has since gained international recognition. “Sgt. Stubby” has been released in over two dozen countries, and it has received accolades and awards at various film festivals in Australia, France, Spain, and the United Kingdom. Paramount Pictures acquired the rights for home media distribution in December 2018, ensuring that Stubby’s story would reach an even wider audience.


A Hero Remembered, Forever Cherished

As we reflect on the life and legacy of Sergeant Stubby, we are reminded of the power of unwavering loyalty, courage, and compassion. Stubby’s remarkable journey from stray dog to decorated war veteran serves as an inspiration to us all. His unwavering devotion to his comrades and his extraordinary acts of bravery during World War I will forever be etched in history. Sergeant Stubby, a true hero in every sense, continues to remind us of the incredible bond between humans and dogs and the profound impact we can have on each other’s lives.

Sergeant Stubby
Sgt. Stubby’s brick at Liberty Memorial