The most decorated dog of World War I is preserved in the Smithsonian.
The bravest dog of World War I started his military career as a stray who wandered onto Yale Field, and became the mascot of the 102 Infantry 26th Yankee Division. Yet unlike most mascots, Stubby, a pit bull mix named for his short tail, went to war and experienced 17 major battles on the Western Front.
Following training with his division, the beloved dog was snuck onboard by his unit’s soldiers. After being discovered, Stubby won over the commanding officer by sitting and saluting with his paw at the command to “Present Arms.” He stayed with the soldiers for 18 months, once being hospitalized for mustard gas, another time being injured by a German grenade. He proved an invaluable compatriot as he could warn of mustard gas attacks, hear incoming missiles before the men, and find the living wounded in No Man’s Land. He even caught a German spy hiding in the bushes, for which he was promoted to Sergeant, the only dog to have such a position in the US Army at that time.
The most decorated dog of World War I returned to his country a hero, met with presidents and was draped with medals that he wore on his coat. With his longtime master Robert Conroy, he went on to attend Georgetown University Law where he continued to raise morale as the school mascot, even learning to push around a football on the field at halftime to the cheers of the crowd.
As a tribute to his memory, his ashes were placed inside a taxidermy of the dog, which is now front and center in the “Price of Freedom: Americans at War” exhibition at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.
Know Before You Go
All military dogs have one rank above their handlers. This is to maintain order and discipline among soldiers so that if they abuse, neglect or even fail to heed the feedback of the dog (especially with bomb or drug sniffers) the soldiers can get UCMJ (punishment)
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