Badass of the Week.

Sgt. Stubby

"The noise and strain that shattered the nerves of many of his comrades did not impair Stubby's spirits. Not because he was unconscious of danger. His angry howl while a battle raged and his mad canter from one part of the lines to another indicated realization."

- New York Times Obituary

Sergeant Stubby was a stray, homeless mutt who saved more lives, saw more combat, and performed more badass feats of heroic awesomeness than most people could ever hope to accomplish even WITH the advantage of prehensile thumbs and the ability to utilize 100 percent of their brain power without exploding into a burst of ball lightning.

The American version of Voytek the Soldier Bear, this fearless, ass-destroyingly ferocious Pit Bull Terrier started his humble life as most stray animals do hungry, cold, alone, and stranded in the town of New Haven, Connecticut. Living garbage can to garbage can without so much as a doghouse roof over his head, one day this poor dejected little canine happened to stumble onto the parade ground on the campus of Yale University, where it just so happened that the men of the 102nd Regiment, 26th Infantry Division were training for their eventual deployment to fight in World War I. The so-pathetic-it's-adorable little dog-creature was taken in by a soldier named John Robert Conroy, who named the pup "Stubby" on account of the thing's little stumpy gimp tail (or maybe this is a common trait of pit bull terriers, I have no idea). Conroy started leaving food out and let the little guy sleep in the barracks from time to time, and before long pretty much every dude in the 102nd thought this thing was omg totez adorbs, etc. The dog, for its part, was also like insane-as-hell smart, and I don't mean like, "Oh hey that dog thinks he's people because he sits in an armchair and licks beer coozies" stuff, but more like, "Holy crap balls Lassie's trying to tell us that Little Timmy fell down a well and is being slowly digested by a thousand rabid snakes sent forth from a rift in the Hellmouth," smart. After just a few weeks of hanging around the drill field, watching the soldiers do their thing, this friggin' dog/Battle-Cat hybrid learned the damn bugle calls, could execute the marching maneuvers with the men, and was I shit you not trained to salute superior officers by raising his forepaw to his brow in what I can only imagine was a sight so cripplingly adorable that nowadays it would be an obnoxious, long-running Internet meme on one of these I Can Has Catburger websites.

Private Stubby had free reign to drink out of any toilet bowl on the Yale campus during training, and when the order came down for the 102nd to ship out to battle Conroy just stuffed the dog into his greatcoat and smuggled him on board a ship bound for France. Once the transport was under way, Conroy brought the dog out onto the deck, and all the sailors all decided this dog was so totally flippin' sweet that they had a machinists' mate make him a set of dog tags to match the ones worn by the soldiers. When Conroy got a little sloppy and his weirdo covert dog smuggling operation was discovered commanding officer, Conroy gave the order to, "Present Arms," the goddamned dog saluted the commander. The officer was like "WTF ever" and from that point on Stubby was officially allowed to follow Yankee Division out to the battlefront.

This is where it gets good. Stubby became the official mascot of the American Expeditionary Force, and did his part to raise morale to the war-weary soldiers on the front lines. Ok, that's great, but during his tour of duty in Europe, Stubby also participated in 17 battles and four major offensives including the St. Mihel, Meuse-Argonne, Aisne-Marne, and Champagne Marne campaigns. In February 1918, while fighting in a heated sector north of Soissons, Stubby found himself under constant artillery and sniper fire for over a month straight with no respite, responding by howling and barking in "a battle rage" every time gunshots started ringing out. He was wounded in action later that month in a chemical weapons attack, when the Germans launched some mustard gas that poisoned the little dog so hard it nearly died.

But this was a badass pit bull, and it would take more than a lung full of poison gas to slow him down. Instead of croaking, Stubby became more hardcore he'd had his fill of getting the crap kicked out of him by chemical weapons, and thanks to his heightened sense of smell this little bastard could now sniff out mustard gas before it became lethal. From that point on, any time a gas canister exploded near American lines, the friggin' dog would run up and down the trenches barking and biting men until they put their gas masks on, an act that saved countless lives. Once his comrades were properly masked-up, Stubby would run and hide until the gas cloud cleared (because this was back in the days before they'd invented doggy chemical warfare hoods).

In addition to providing early warning for chemical attacks, Stubby could also use his supersonic dog-hearing to detect artillery fire before the shells started exploding a trait that earned him the gratitude of many men who probably would have been blown the hell up if it wasn't for this little guy's warnings. As if it wasn't awesome enough that he had some Peter Parker-style spider sense for incoming warheads, Stubby could sense German ground attacks as soon as the Huns would go over the top, Stubby would sniff the bratwurst coming and run over and bite the nearest American sentry until that guy got off his ass and sounded the alarm. It didn't take long for the doughboys to learn that if the dog started going apeshit it was time to hit the deck, and from that point on the American trenches started to resemble the post-apocalyptic future scene from Terminator 2 where the humans used psycho dogs to let them know when Terminators were heading their way. Oh shit, I just remembered Arnold is Austrian, so that analogy has a whole other layer to it that I didn't intend when I originally wrote it.

Well when this tiny tornado of life-saving awesomeness wasn't, you know, saving the lives of thousands of American soldiers by alerting them to imminent peril by land or by air, Stubby the Combat Canine spent a lot of his free time running around through No Man's Land looking for wounded and dying Allied soldiers to rescue. According to first-hand accounts, this dog could hear English being spoken (like, no shit, he could allegedly differentiate English from German), and he'd immediately run over and check out the wounded man. If the dude was able to walk, Stubby would lead him back to friendly lines. If the guy was too jacked up to move, Stubby would stand there and bark until a medic arrived. Are you kidding me with this?

Stubby the War Dog was wounded in combat in April 1918, when he was hit with a German hand grenade while participating in the assault on the German town of Schieprey (now there's a sentence I never thought I'd write). Despite receiving shrapnel wounds to his forelimbs and chest, Stubby survived the grenade blast, lived through some emergency surgery, and spent his convalescence time cheering up the wounded men in the field hospital. He returned to action a few months later and helped participate in the liberation of Chateau Thierry, a deed that got the French babes living in the city so pumped up that they made him a chamois blanked decorated with the flags of the Allied countries to thank him. The men of the 102nd, for their part, made Stubby a jacket designed to look like an American military uniform, and then they decorated it with Stubby's name, rank, and medals medals that included the Purple Heart, the Republic of France Grande War Medal, the Medal of Verdun, and medals for every campaign in which he'd served.

But this thing wasn't done yet. While serving in the Argonne Forest during the Meuse-Argonne campaign of September 1918, Stubby was patrolling the trenches when he discovered a camouflaged German spy hiding out mapping the Allied trenches. Stubby smelled the Kraut on this dude and started freaking the hell out, woofing at this dude like a damned psychotic bark machine, and nothing this poor chump could do to stop Stubby from freaking out on him. Finally, convinced that he wasn't going to shut the damn dog up, the German turned and ran for it. That was just the opportunity Stubby was looking for. The dog hauled ass, ran this guy down from behind, launched itself like a hair-covered missile, and bit into his calf, dropping the spy to the ground. Then Stubby bit the dude on the ass and locked his jaws shut, refusing to give this dude his ass back (or let him move in any way at all) until Americans showed up to arrest him. For his actions, Stubby the Ass-Biting Maniac Dog was given a battlefield promotion to the rank of Sergeant, which, awesomely enough, meant that the dog now outranked his owner, who was only a Corporal by this point. Stubby became the first dog to be promoted to a rank the army, and, as a bitchin' side note, when the Americans brought the German spy back to camp they stripped the prisoner of his Iron Cross and pinned the German military medal on the dog's jacket instead.

Stubby being decorated by General "Black Jack" Pershing and First Lady Florence Harding.

After the war, Sergeant Stubby was smuggled back to the states, where he was an instant celebrity. He inducted into the American Legion, offered free food for life from the YMCA, and whenever he went out of war bonds promotion tours five-star hotels would relax their "no dogs allowed" policy for the canine war hero. He went to the White House twice, met three presidents, and in 1921 the American overall commander "Black Jack" Pershing personally pinned a one-of-a-kind "Dog Hero Gold Medal" on Stubby's military jacket.

When Robert Conroy ended up attending Georgetown University for law school after the war, Sergeant Stubby went with him. The dog immediately became the official mascot of the football team and to this day the University sports mascot is still a dog (though it think it's a bulldog these days). In addition to hanging out with the players and looking up cheerleaders' skirts (maybe), it eventually became tradition to bring Stubby out on the field during Halftime of football games and he'd pump the crowd up by running around the field pushing the ball around with his nose. Nobody had really done anything like this before, meaning that in a weird-as-hell Forrest Gump-like twist, Sergeant Stubby might have possibly invented the Halftime Show. Seriously.

Sergeant Stubby, American war hero dog, died in 1926, at the (approximate) age of ten. Nowadays his taxidermized corpse is featured with its own exhibit at the Smithsonian's Museum of American History, which is simultaneously creepy, awesome, and the sort of thing that every man and animal in the country should aspire to.

Stubby joined up. One morning a bugle sounded the departure from camp. Crammed into a train loaded with equipment, he was started South. He knew not where he was speeding. His recent contacts with scholasticism, however, stood him in good stead. Tennyson had said something memorable - "His not to reason why, his but to do and die".


NY Times Obituary

Connecticut Military Department

Smithsonian Institue

Governor's Foot Guard



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