Sergeant Stubby Statue in Middletown, Connecticut

Sergeant Stubby giving a salute.

While training for combat deployment at Yale University in 1917, Private J. Robert Conroy discovered a stray puppy on the campus field. He named the dog Stubby (because of his short tail) and introduced him to the other men of his unit, the 102nd Infantry Yankee Division.

Stubby became the mascot of the 102nd and greatly boosted their morale. He quickly took to follow the daily training routine alongside his owner, even learning to salute by raising his right paw to his eyebrow. When Conroy shipped out to France, he smuggled Stubby on board the ship. The commanding officer discovered the stowaway once they reached land but allowed him to stay because he improved the men’s mood.

Stubby participated in many battles during the Great War. He frequently led wounded soldiers to safety or barked to summon help for men who were too injured to move. He also alerted his unit to deadly gas attacks thanks to his acute sense of smell. When he himself was injured and taken to a hospital, he frequently visited other recovering soldiers. When Stubby subdued a German spy by biting and hanging onto him, the 102nd Infantry’s commanding officer put in a request for him to receive the title of Sergeant, making him the first dog with a rank in the United States Armed Forces.

After participating in a battle to liberate the French town of Chateau Thierry, Stubby received a hand-sewn blanket embroidered with Allied flags from the local women. His medals and other souvenirs were added to this garment throughout his life. After leaving the army, Conroy regularly toured with Stubby to boost morale during and after wartime. The dog led American troops in parades and received honorary memberships in the YMCA and the American Legion, as well as a medal from the Humane Society. Stubby even met presidents Harding, Coolidge, and Wilson.

After Sergeant Stubby died in 1926, his body was preserved via taxidermy, which can be seen at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. In 2018, he was honored with a statue at the Connecticut Trees of Honor Memorial in Middletown’s Veterans Memorial Park.

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