Stubby Fact Vs. Fiction

“I discovered the dog by accident in 2010…The animal’s story seemed so incredible that at first I did not believe it could be true…But the story was true…and it grabbed hold of me in the way good stories do…”

Excerpt from Introduction to Stubby the War Dog by Ann Bausum

Fact #1: Stubby didn’t belong to anyone (but he did have a best friend).

Private J. Robert Conroy and Stubby met during the summer of 1917 while Conroy trained with other members of the 102nd Infantry Regiment on the campus of Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. The two of them appear in a family photo taken shortly before this Yankee Division unit traveled to Europe, and later on Conroy recounted stories of how he helped Stubby join the deployment. The pair remained together until Stubby’s death.

Fact # 2: Stubby didn’t earn those medals all by himself.

In time, Stubby became an official mascot for Conroy's company and served alongside the troops in France. During the summer of 1918, locals made the dog a military uniform, and, over time, it hung heavy with medals and other decorations. Conroy didn't contradict news reports about Stubby earning the medals, but almost certainly Conroy himself received most of them and simply shared them with Stubby. He credited his friend with getting him through the war, so he was happy to see Stubby share in the glory of their service.

Fact #3: Stubby was not a sergeant in the U.S. Army.

Despite what you may read or hear elsewhere, Stubby was never made a sergeant during his military service in France.    No one addressed Stubby with a military rank during his lifetime. People just called him Stubby. Not a single historical clipping from Stubby's lifetime—and there are hundreds of them—ever referred to the famous dog with a military rank. Stories about his status as a sergeant sprang to life after Stubby wandered into the Internet. Stubby seems to have been "promoted" by his fans on the Internet.

Fact #4: Everyone forgot about Stubby’s best friend.

Or at least almost everyone forgot—even the Smithsonian Institution lost track of him—but his descendants still share stories they heard as children about their patriarch’s companion during the First World War. Robert Conroy played the part of a good PR man when he spoke about Stubby in public, forever putting his friend’s story forward and keeping quiet about his own. When he died in 1987, he passed along his favorite keepsakes about Stubby to his grandchildren.

A song about Stubby.

Connecticut's official State Troubadour wrote a song about Stubby.
Hear the song.

Want to know more about Stubby?  Here are two books you may like to read:

Packed with period photographs, family memorabilia, and vintage artwork, Ann Bausum’s Stubby the War Dog tells the true story of WWI’s bravest dog, for ages 10 and up.  Published by National Geographic.

Historian and author Ann Bausum beautifully brings back to life the story of one of the most celebrated dogs of the 21st  century.  Using painstaking research, she sifts facts from legend to revive Stubby’s true story.  Published by National Geographic.