Dogs have always played vital roles in warfare as messengers, scouts, protectors, and other brave duties! There are a lot of stories about War Veteran dogs, including one of my personal favorites: Sergeant Stubby. This little guy was something out of a Rin Tin Tin movie!
As the story goes, Stubby was looking for knowledge on the campus of Yale. Just wandering around! At the time (1917), the area was being used as a training for the 102nd Infantry.
During World War I, it’s estimated that over 50,000 dogs were used by Allies and Axis powers. Some of the most employed breeds were German Shepherds and Dobermans. But Stubby was not a sleek, intimidating Shepherd. He was… stubby. A Bully: possibly an early Boston Terrier. And adorable at being so! He took a liking to the 102nd, hanging around them while they trained, and he caught the eye of Corporal Robert Conroy. Now, dogs had a lot of duties in war. Including difficult to grasp ones: like Mercy dogs who would sit beside terminally wounded men. In a way, Stubby fulfilled many roles. But officially he became the Mascot Dog of the infantry he had been hanging around. Like a mercy dog, Stubby was important for the mental health of the men. A friend, companion, and at tines a distraction from the horrors of trench warfare!
How Stubby got into the war is a tale of it’s own. Since the troops took a real shine to him, and trained him alongside themselves, Stubby was literally snuck onto the deployment ship. Supposedly, Corporal Conroy hid him in his coat. It’s hard to say how much of Stubby’s story is fanfare, but upon his discovery, his signature charm convinced Conroy’s higher-ups that he was worth it. And he was!
Reportedly, Stubby was with the 102nd Infantry in France, and did many of the jobs a Veteran K9 would! Including arresting a German soldier… by biting him in the seat of his pants. He also detected mustard gas (wearing a special gas mask). Found wounded soldiers. And his canine instincts helped him be an early-detector for bombs and other ammunitions!
Stubby is considered the most decorated dog. He was promoted to Sergeant, after all! But what’s important to remember that there is a Veterans Day for dogs. March 13th. This year, a 3 legged dog was honored for her 6 year service with the United States Military. She has received the highest honor for a military dog: the Dickin Medal. Her name is Lucca.
She has served 6 years sniffing out explosives in Afghanistan. That’s how she lost one of her legs! But her bravery has saved many human lives—including her handler’s: Corporal Juan Rodriguez. In return, he saved her’s. You can read more about Lucca on The Guardian’s website.