Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Stubby, the Hero Dog of World War I by Shirley Raye Redmond

Did you know that tens of thousands of dogs served as scouts and messengers during World Wars I and II? Others hauled ammunition. Many were guard dogs. Some were good at sniffing out deadly mines and booby traps too.

Many of these courageous canines came from kennels and dog pounds. But most of the dogs used during the wars were pets donated to the military by their families. One little English girl wrote in 1915: “We have let Daddy go and fight the Kaiser, now we are sending Jack to do his bit.”

Some dogs were trained for special tasks. Jack Russell terriers and other small dogs were taught to kill rats in the trenches during World War I. Messenger dogs raced dispatches from one place to another in both wars. They could deliver messages three times faster than a human! The Red Cross “mercy dogs” were released on the battlefield at night. They used their sense of smell to locate wounded soldiers.

Stubby was the most famous dog of World War I. But he wasn’t a trained war dog at all. In 1917, a soldier named Robert Conroy found the stray in Hartford, Connecticut. When Conroy and the 102nd Infantry were shipped overseas, Stubby was hidden onboard.

Even though he had no training, Stubby was a good soldier. Once, a German tried to sneak into camp. Stubby attacked the intruder. He wouldn’t let go until the Americans took the man prisoner.

One night, Stubby barked incessantly. He woke up Conroy and the other sleeping soldiers. The Germans were launching a gas attack! The men quickly put on their gas masks. Stubby’s warning had saved their lives. Sometimes, Stubby raced through the deep trenches carrying messages attached to his collar. In between battles, Stubby cuddled up next to wounded soldiers. He licked their faces. He tried to cheer them up. Grateful soldiers pinned their own medals and ribbons on his collar. French nurses made him a special little blanket to wear. Soon that was covered with medals too.

After serving in 17 battles together, Conroy and Stubby returned to the United States. Stubby was famous! He was given a silver medal that read, “Awarded to the Hero Dog Stubby.”

Stubby became an honorary member of the American Red Cross, the YMCA and the American Legion. In the years following the war, he met Presidents Woodrow Wilson, Warren G. Harding and Calvin Coolidge. He took part in more parades than any other dog in the world. In 1925, Stubby became very sick. He died in the arms of the soldier who had rescued him years before.

An award-winning writer and frequent conference speaker, Shirley Raye Redmond is the author of three inspirational novels, PRUDENCE PURSUED, VIPER’S NEST, and AMANDA’S BEAU, as well as two dozen children’s books, including LEWIS & CLARK: A PRAIRIE DOG FOR THE PRESIDENT (Random House), which was a Children’s Book of the Month Club selection. Shirley Raye holds an M.A. in literature and teaches through the Institute of Children’s Literature. She has been married to her husband Bill for over forty years. They live in New Mexico and are blessed with two grown children and three adorable grandchildren. Touch bases at shirleyrayeredmond.com or Facebook.


  1. Shirley, this was an informative and amazing post. It brought tears to my eyes reading how Stubby, hero dog of WWI, saved lives of our American soldiers and comforted them. God bless.

  2. Oh, how I love dog stories and this was so special. Thanks for sharing Stubby's story!