March, 20 2023
Sergeant Stubby: From Military Dog to College Mascot
Celebrating National Pet Day
On National Pet Day, the Chick-fil-A College Football Hall of Fame is taking a look at the story of Sergeant Stubby, a short brindle bull terrier, who was a World War I hero.
A Lost Puppy with a Short Tail
As a young dog in 1917, Stubby was found wandering aimlessly around the football field at Yale University. A young Private, Robert J. Conroy, spotted him during his military training and named him “Stubby”. Though pets were not usually allowed, Conroy brought his new friend back to his camp where Stubby so improved the soldiers’ morale that he was allowed to stay. During this time with the soldiers, Stubby learned how to salute and became familiar with bugle calls and marching formations.
Saving Lives on the Frontlines
When it was time for the soldiers to ship out to war, the men decided to sneak Stubby on board and he served as a quasi-mascot for the 102nd Infantry 26th Yankee Division. The Division was under constant fire on the frontlines and he became used to the barrage of gunfire. He eventually learned to detect the smell of mustard gas, which proved to be a lifesaver for his fellow comrades. While the soldiers were sleeping in the night, a German gas attack occurred, but to no avail. Stubby began to bark, awakening most of the soldiers and saving their lives.
He was also able to hear incoming missiles before the men did, allowing him to dart into “No Man’s Land” and find wounded soldiers. Amazingly, he even learned to differentiate between English and German soldiers on the battlefield. He once caught a German spy mapping out the Allied trenches. When the spy called out to him in German, Stubby charged the man and attacked him, giving the U.S. soldiers the chance to capture the spy. For this act, he was given the rank of “Sergeant,” outranking his owner who was a Corporal at the time.
Stubby was also injured on one occasion, requiring hospitalization after pieces of shrapnel were embedded in his chest. He made a full recovery and provided much needed relief to soldiers in the military hospital while there, earning a Purple Heart for his bravery.
War Hero to College Mascot
In total, he served in 17 battles before coming home. After the war, Stubby reached celebrity status and led several parades across the country. Even former Presidents like Woodrow Wilson, Calvin Coolidge, and Warren G. Harding considered it an honor to meet the retired military hero. When Corporal Conroy returned home to attend law school at Georgetown, the school selected Stubby as their new mascot. He learned to push around a football on the field at halftime which became a crowd favorite for many! The Hoyas still have a dog as their mascot: Jack the Bulldog.
Stubby passed away peacefully in his sleep in 1926. The New York Times printed a half page obituary and his body was donated to the Smithsonian Institute where he currently rests on display with his medals in tow. Talk about a good boy!