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5 years ago

Stubby, World War I Pit Bull war dog

I wrote a tribute to Stubby last Veterans Day, but it was pointed out that I didn’t emphasize enough what kind of dog he was.

Stubby was a Staffordshire Bull Terrier, one of the breeds that are referred to as the much maligned Pit Bulls of today.

America did not have official military dogs during World War I, but Stubby has been called “America’s first war dog.”

No one knew where he came from. One day he just appeared on a field where soldiers were drilling in New Haven, Ct. He trotted in and out, making a friend here, another there, until soon he was a buddy with everyone.

When it was time for the men to ship out, Stubby was allowed to stowaway as the ship sailed for France. In combat they discovered that Stubby was a natural war dog. The artillery fire didn’t bother him, but he learned to follow the example of the men in diving for a dugout. To Stubby it was a game, and he won every time. They quickly discovered he could hear the shells long before the men did, so they began watching him to know when to take cover.

One quiet night as Stubby and the men were relaxing in the muddy dugouts, he snapped up his head, growled and bounded out of the dugout. A few seconds later there was a cry of pain.

Single-pawed Stubby had captured a German spy who had been prowling through the trenches. Stubby had attached his teeth to soft German buttocks and refused to be shaken off.

He is credited with saving his regiment from surprise mustard attacks and locating and comforting his wounded comrades.

At the end of the war honors were heaped on Stubby as a hero. He shook paws with President Wilson. He was awarded medals and jackets. The marines even made him an honorary sergeant.

Stubby was invited to tour the country and led more parades than any other dog in American history.

In Stubby’s day and for years afterward, the Pit Bull was America’s favorite dog breed.

More on Stubby


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