Stubby: World War I Hero Dog

2579 words - 10 pages

Historians who study World War 1 have argued about Stubby’s importance on many occasions. An argument that comes up frequently is this; Is Stubby is only regarded as famous in the world of military animals because he was the first American military dog? Although his actions were great, they were not incredibly unique, as European war dogs had been involved in battle too, and had been doing just as well as Stubby for a longer amount of time (Tamara). However, whether or not Stubby’s actions warrant fame and recognition is irrelevant. It is irrefutable that Stubby’s military performance during World War 1 was extraordinary, but he is so well known because he is credited as the dog that broke the mold, so to speak, and began the integration of American dogs into war. Dogs have been used in police and military affairs in Europe since the medieval times, but dogs only began to appear in the United States over the past 100 years or so (Thompson). Before World War 1, Americans viewed the use of animals in combat as inhumane and odd. Despite this, when the United States first joined the war, Britain and France provided the American army with European dogs to use for fighting. It was acceptable for Americans to use European dogs, but it was frowned upon to bring American dogs from across the Atlantic (Thompson). What changed in the United States that allowed dogs to be integrated into the service of the country over such a short period of time? The answer to this would be an article published by the New York Times in May of 1917. Stubby was written about in the New York Times, and almost immediately afterwards, the average American’s view of a dog’s role in warfare changed drastically (Zimmerman).
Stubby came from unknown, yet humble origins. He is presumed to be a pit bull terrier, but this is a hypothesis that was made only by looking at existing photographs (Thompson). Stubby’s rise to fame happened by accident. Yale University had opened up its’ campus so that the United States government could train soldiers and give them temporary housing (Zimmerman). An army in training needs food, and “there was a surplus of food on campus for the 26th Yankee division” (Thompson). Many stray dogs found “a perfect little home” by hanging around military training grounds and eating whatever they could find (Tamara). Stubby was likely one of these stray dogs, and, as if chance, he was noticed by a soldier named John Robert Conroy (George 7). Stubby began to visit Conroy’s tent frequently, and the two became inseparable. When Conroy trained with the 26th Yankee division, “Stubby would run alongside him and watch the soldiers go through their daily routines” (George 8). Stubby was obviously a very smart dog, as “he quickly learned the meanings of the 102nd infantry’s bugle calls” (George 8), and also made a habit of accompanying Conroy during all training. After a few short weeks, After just a few weeks of hanging around the drill field and watching the 26th infantry...

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