2018-04-12 / Columnists

Pets, Pets, Pets

Sergeant Stubby, a hero during World War I, is getting his own full-length movie. It opens in theaters this Friday. Oh, by the way- Sergeant Stubby was a brindle Boston Terrier mix who fought in the trenches of France with the American infantry.

The computer-animated film, “Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero,” premieres April 13 on approximately 3,000 screens across the U.S. and Canada to coincide with the year-long 100th commemoration of the United States’ role in the “War to End All War.” The fun Academy Motion Pictures movie will feature the voices of Helena Bonham Carter, Logan Lerman and Gerard Depardieu.

Short bio: Stubby became- what many consider- the most famous war dog ever. Stubby was found as an unkempt stray pup on the Yale campus in 1917, and smuggled to France during World War I by his adoptive owner, Corporal John Robert Conroy. The dog’s heroic acts include participating in 17 battles and four offenses, plus improving troop morale. He also used his keen senses to warn his unit of poison-gas attacks, incoming artillery fire and to locate downed soldiers on the battlefield. His skills were also put to good use when he sniffed out and apprehended a German spy lurking in the trenches.

The real Sgt. Stubby & Cpl. Conroy in France 1919 The real Sgt. Stubby & Cpl. Conroy in France 1919 Later Stubby became a lifetime member of the American Legion, Red Cross and YMCA. General Pershing gave him a gold medal. He died in his owner’s arms in 1926, and is forever on display wearing his vest of medals in the Smithsonian.

Now to fill in more details...

Stubby joins the Army: Stubby was found wandering the Yale campus in New Haven, Connecticut while members of the 102nd Infantry were training. The dog hung around as the men drilled and one soldier, Corporal Conroy, developed a fondness for him. When it came time to ship out, Conroy hid Stubby on board the ship and under his overcoat without detection when the troops landed.

Stubby & Conroy as depicted in the movie- "Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero" Stubby & Conroy as depicted in the movie- "Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero" At that moment Conroy’s commanding officer discovered the secret. Angry and ready to banish the dog, the commander heard Conroy say “Present Arms!” He watched as Stubby brought a paw to his brow and saluted him. His heart melted. Stubby could stay and be their mascot. The dog could serve as a distraction for his soldiers.

Stubby in the trenches: Stubby served with the 102nd Infantry Regiment in the trenches in France for 18 months. The dog followed Conroy to the front lines, and showed little fear of the constant shelling. His presence brought smiles to otherwise weary faces.

During our soldiers’ raid on the German-held town of Schieprey, the Germans threw grenades at the pursing allies as they withdrew. Stubby got overenthusiastic and climbed on top of the trench when a grenade went off and wounded his foreleg.

After the recapture of Chateau Thierry the women of the town made him a chamois blanket embroidered with the flags of the allies. The blanket also held his wound stripe, three service chevrons and other medals, the first of which was presented to him at the home of Joan of Arc.

In the Argonne, Stubby discovered a German spy and held on to the seat of his pants until the soldiers completed the capture. Stubby supposedly took the German’s Iron Cross and wore it on his blanket vest for many years. That’s when he was nominated for the rank of sergeant.

Stubby was also gassed a few times and eventually ended up in a hospital when Conroy was wounded. At the end of the war Conroy smuggled Stubby home the same way, but by then he was so well known (many of his feats were covered by newspapers back home), it’s doubtful if Stubby was hidden away.

Stubby the celebrity: Back home, Stubby lived with Conroy in Connecticut. He was made a lifetime member of the American Legion and marched in many legion parades from the end of the war until his death. Newspaper reporters followed him wherever he went.

As a lifetime member of the YMCA, the Y offered him three bones a day and a place to sleep for the rest of his life. Stubby recruited members for the American Red Cross and sold victory bonds. In 1921 General Pershing, supreme commander of American Forces during WWI, pinned Stubby with a gold hero dog’s medal, commissioned by the Humane Education Society.

The Grand Hotel Majestic in NYC lifted its ban on dogs so Stubby could stay there whenever he was traveling from CT to Washington. When Conroy went to Georgetown to study law, Stubby became the mascot for the football team. At halftime, he would nudge a football around the field as the crowd cheered.

In 1926 he died in Conroy’s arms. The dog’s April 4, 1926 obituary in the NY Times was a half page, longer than many of the notables of his day. His tribute in the Times begins:

“Stubby is dead. He was only a dog and un-pedigreed at that, but he was the most famous mascot in the A.E.F. Stubby took part in four major offensives, was wounded and gassed. He captured a German spy and won more medals than any other soldier dog. He led the American Legion parades and was known to three presidents. He was, indisputably, a fighting dog. His Arlington is to be the Smithsonian Institution. Now you can see Stubby’s heroic story at the movies.

Adoptables at Babylon Animal Shelter (631-643-9270) Lamar St. W. Babylon: “Bit o’ Honey” 7-84 is one of a group of cats who entered the shelter almost a year ago because her home was structurally unsound through no fault of her owner. She is about six, and very affectionate. UsNavi #18- 138 was named for a character in a Lin-Manuel Miranda play but after 10 years his owners had no time for him because their kids are grown. He has two cosmetic issues working against him - an underbite and cherry eye.

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