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AGES 10 and up


He was more than a dog. He was a four-footed soldier, a scout, a mascot, a comrade-in-arms, and a best friend. He was a hero. Nearly 100 years ago, a dog named Stubby went to war. This is his true story.

Praise for With Courage and Cloth: ✸ Winner of the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award for Older Readers

✸ A School Library Journal Best Book of the Year ✸ New York Public Library 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing

Praise for Muckrakers:

“Another excellent work of nonfiction . . . delivers a galvanizing call to action.”

“The author . . . dishes up a . . . compelling account of the birth of investigative journalism in this country . . . Budding journalists and social activists in particular can’t help but be inspired by the good works of these dedicated, intrepid reporters.”


“Bausum’s narrative style . . . fresh, engrossing, and at times heart-stopping . . . will draw readers in and keep them captivated.”



✸ A Robert F. Sibert Best Informational Book for Young People Honor winner ✸ Top of the List choice by Booklist as the Year’s Best Youth Nonfiction

✸ Winner of the Golden Kite Award for Nonfiction, Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators ✸ Winner of the Orbis Pictus Honor, NCTE ✸ An ALA Notable Book

COVER ILLUSTRATIONS: Grateful Frenchwomen

made Stubby his own uniform after he and fellow soldiers liberated their town in 1918. Stubby’s best friend, Cpl. J. Robert Conroy (with Stubby on the back cover), decorated the jacket with their World War I medals. (Front cover: central image, Armed Forces History, Smithsonian Institution; background image, Getty Images/Hulton Archives 3276578. Back cover: Armed Forces History, Smithsonian Institution. Textured background panels: courtesy Shutterstock.) Jacket design by Marty Ittner Jacket copyright © 2014 National Geographic Society All rights reserved. National Geographic Society 1145 17th Street, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20036-4688 U.S.A.

Praise for Denied, Detained, Deported:

Praise for Unraveling Freedom:

Praise for Marching to the Mountaintop:

“An interesting and readable book, well worth purchasing for any collection.” — SCHOOL LIBRARY

“An insightful look at the often deeply disturbing course of events on the home front during World War I.”

“Bausum deftly and compellingly explores two connected stories in this exemplary work of research and writing.” — CCBC CHOICES


“A landmark title, sure to spark intense discussion.” — BOOKLIST, STARRED REVIEW

“Men may learn richly through the love and fidelity of a brave and devoted dog.” —President Warren G. Harding

✸ Winner of the Carter G. Woodson Award, NCSS


✸ Booklist Editors’ Choice ✸ A Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People, NCSS/CBC ✸ School Library Journal Starred Review

✸ A Jane Addams Children’s Book Award Honor winner ✸ A Bank Street College of Education Best Book ✸ A Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People, NCSS/CBC

U.S. $17.99 / $20.99 CAN I S B N 978-1-4263-1486-5 / Printed in Hong Kong


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When a commanding officer addressed a member of the 102nd Infantry, the soldier snapped to attention, raising his right hand in salute. The smallest member of the force raised his right paw. With a furry coat and four legs, Stubby the dog did not look like the other soldiers, but he took his duty just as seriously. Adopted as the mascot of a regiment of World War I soldiers, Stubby became their comrade-in-arms. In the course of his remarkable life Stubby served on 17 battlefields, suffered wounds from crossfire, became a national celebrity, met three Presidents, and found a best friend in American soldier J. Robert Conroy. The friendship that crossed battlefields, oceans, and even species now transcends history. Stubby’s charm works its magic on modern audiences, who can’t help but fall for his good humor and bravery. Suspenseful and heart-stopping, Stubby the War Dog is a from-the-trenches account of World War I, just in time for the centennial, and shows the hardships faced by ordinary soldiers—including poison gas, tanks, enemy spies, machine-gun fire, disease, rats, and harsh weather. Award-winning author Ann Bausum sifts through fact and fable to reveal the true story of Stubby, the war dog, and his inseparable companion, soldier J. Robert Conroy. Conroy’s own grandson Curtis Deane writes a foreword with memories of a childhood shaped by the legacy of his grandfather’s faithful dog.


✸ An ALA Notable Book and an ALA Best Book for Young Adults

Praise for Freedom Riders:


writes nonfiction for children to remember America’s most defining moments. She stumbled across the unbelievable story of Stubby buried in the pages of World War I history. Bausum began uncovering the legend of a dog who wore a uniform and survived months of harsh warfare. The investigation brought her to the hidden chambers of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History, where Stubby’s jacket is reverently stored, complete with its many medals. Bausum pieced together the truth about the dog’s life and legacy by combing through J. Robert Conroy’s scrapbook, reading U.S. Army records and old news stories, and tracking down Conroy’s relatives. Stubby the War Dog is Bausum’s tenth book for the National Geographic Society. Other titles include Marching to the Mountaintop, Unraveling Freedom, and Our Country’s Presidents. Bausum lives in Wisconsin and is the mother of two grown sons. To find out more about her writing, visit her website at

$17.99 U.S. | $20.99 CAN


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6 Foreword 8 Introduction This one is for the dogs— and for the people who have loved them, especially J. Robert Conroy. —A. B.



A Dog’s Best Friend



Over There



In the Trenches



Victory Lap



At Ease, Sgt. Stubby

56 Afterword 62 Time Line 64 Research Notes 65 Acknowledgments 66 Bibliography 68 Resource Guide 69 Citations 70 Index 71 Illustrations Credits w s “p wa perha aps ps the onl nly Am A erric ican an dog an g t go to Fra to ancce, e ser erve witth a co c mb mbat a divi divi di v si sion n and rettur urn ho home me,” me ,” ” obser bserrve bs v d hi his hu um ma an fr frie iend ie nd d J. Ro R be bertt Con onro royy (p ro po ossiin ng wiith w h Stu tubb bbyy in Fra bb ranc n e, opp nc ppos osit os itte pa ite p ge e). ). Back Ba ckgr ck grou gr ound ou nd ima age g s: Stu ubb bbyy an and C and Co onr nroy oy sh shar harre a sw wim i (en ndp pap pe errs); s)); trren ench ch war ch a fa fare re e (cov (cov (c over er and tittle l pag ge ess); ) trro oop ops he hea ad for ad or the th e fr f on o t (ttab able le e of co cont nte entss pages en ag ges e ). )

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was always told by my father and my grandfather, J. Robert Conroy, that we were “raised by dogs.” Dogs were an important part of my family, always found in the homes of relatives on both sides, and, later, in my own home, too. As a child, I didn’t really understand what my father and grandfather had meant. After all, you have to teach dogs to obey you and not chew up your shoes. We raise them, not the other way around. But as I grew older, I came to understand what they meant through the stories my grandfather told me about the pride and joy of his life: his beloved dog, Stubby. Stubby was more than a pet. He and my grandfather were truly life partners. They had faced the dangers of a war in a foreign country together, and they shared a special bond. A war zone is a treacherous environment. It is noisy and chaotic, with danger lurking at every turn: incoming enemy fire, poison gas, and the enemy soldiers themselves. There is never a peaceful moment.  Yet Stubby was able to bring a sense of calm and comfort to his soldiers, his team.  His hypersensitive sense of smell allowed him to warn his soldiers of incoming gas.  His acute sense of hearing allowed him to track the enemy.  His warmth and loyalty allowed him to stand by his wounded comrades and provide assurance that help would arrive. 


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J. Robert Conroy (second from right) and Stubby gathered with friends in Washington, D.C., for a commemorative snapshot.

Ann Bausum has captured Stubby’s unique dedication and his bond, not only with my grandfather, but with all the troops in the 102nd Regiment. She has captured Stubby’s noble service to our country at a time of great need, too. Through my grandfather and his dog, Stubby, I learned that being raised by dogs meant learning the meaning of unconditional love, being both trustworthy and faithful, living with dignity and without hesitation or regret, and caring for others less fortunate or in need. My grandfather returned Stubby’s steadfast love and devotion in kind, and he made certain his friend always had the best care, even to his death in my grandfather’s arms. My grandfather was never able to let go of the wartime memories, both good and bad, that he and Stubby had shared. His deep-seated attachment and respect for Stubby lasted a lifetime: He never raised—or was raised by—another dog again. — Curtis Deane


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his much we know for sure: There was a war. There was a soldier. And there was a dog. I discovered the dog by accident in 2010, when I was researching Unraveling Freedom, my book about the American home front during World War I. The animal’s story seemed so incredible that at first I did not believe it could be true. How could one dog have been so capable, survived so many battles, gained such fame? Surely someone had made him up. But the story was true, at least large parts of it, and it grabbed hold of me in the way good stories do: with a smile, coming to mind unexpectedly, and showing up with growing frequency. Doggedly, one could say. Two years later my publisher asked me to invent three nonfiction book ideas to share at a party, two fake and one true. I trotted out Stubby as part of the mix. And that’s how this book came into being, as a strategic joke at a gathering of librarians and publishers. I think Stubby would have liked that twist, or at least J. Robert Conroy would have, as the devoted keeper of Stubby and his fame. Some people might say that I am an unlikely candidate to write a book about a dog. For one thing, all of my other titles have focused on the more serious sides of history. Plus, full disclosure, I haven’t owned a dog in 40 years. All of the dogs from my childhood met tragic ends. Pooh the cocker spaniel, hit by a car. Benet the Chihuahua, disappeared. Checkers the Dalmatian, hit by the mail truck. Checkers II, another Dalmatian, put to sleep due to illness. Truth be told, in the decades since, I’d lost interest in dogs. My heart belonged to cats and cats alone. As I began to research the life of Stubby, I rather thought my lack of affection for dogs might add objectivity to my work. But I would be dishonest to maintain this claim. Instead, Stubby charmed me just as he had charmed the guests at that party and almost everyone he ever met. Halfway through my research I found myself checking


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The fi The firs rstt do dog g I kn knew ew was wa s a co cock cker er spa pani niel el my bro r th ther e had nam amed ed Pooh Po oh, in hon nor of Wi Winn nnie ie the th e Po Pooh oh (ab abov ove, e, the auth au thor or, ag age e tw two, o, wit ith h herr br he brothe er Da Davi vid) d. E er Ev e yone n lov oved d Poo oh! h

books out of the library that were totally unrelated to my project. How to choose a dog, profiles for different breeds of dogs, how to care for a dog, and so on. For no rational reason, I, the ignorer of dogs, began to think about acquiring one. That is the spell of Stubby. This enchanting creature left behind a tantalizing trail of historical evidence that includes random sources, misinformation, and solid fact. One of the many stops I made as I navigated that path was the storage area for the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History. I wanted to see a jacket that Stubby had worn, and a thoughtful curator indulged me. The garment is stored in a flat box with a protective sunken center. Even now it gives off faint smells, a sort of custom blending of leather and dog and U.S. Army and history. Follow your noses, readers, and turn the pages of this book. Meet this dog. He was just a stray dog, a dog adopted by an American soldier. A dog who went on to become the most famous dog of the Great War, the War to End All Wars, World War I. A brave dog. A loyal dog. A lovable dog. Here is his story.


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he dog came out of nowhere. No one knows the details of his breeding or birth. No one knows whether he had looked on anyone else as master, how long he’d wandered without a home, whether he was lost or abandoned. No one knows whether he’d ever had another name. His closest relatives appeared to be Boston terriers—or, as they were once called, Boston bull terriers. The dog’s coat was brindle patterned, a sandy brown streaked with waves of darker fur. He was a handsome enough dog—muscular, wiry, solid—standing not quite two feet tall, on all fours, and measuring a bit more than two feet long from snout to stubby tail. White patches highlighted his chest and face, emphasizing his dark nose and eyes. White fur capped his front feet, too, and it lightly frosted his back paws. The story goes that the stray dog with a stub of a tail already lived around the athletic stadium of Yale University in the spring of J Robert Conroy and a stray J. a 1917. If he didn’t, it wouldn’t have taken him long dog named Stub u by y mett on the to figure out that he should. That same spring athletic fields of Yale University y (above, student re ecr c uits train in the United States had joined the fight that would the e Yale Bowl). Th T eir friendship become known as World War I, and by summertime members of the Connecticut National Guard had endured on batttlefields s and beyond (left f pag ge) e). started training on Yale’s athletic grounds. It took


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he amb m ulance drove its t cha harg rges e to o a ho hosp spit ital al sta tati tion oned ed a saf afe e dissttan di ancce e frro om th he figh ghttiing g. Some Some So me of its itts m me ed diicca a all st staf aff m me emb emb mbe errs ma may allre a rea ad dy h ha avve e kno own wn Stu tub bb byy.. At the the vve th ery ry le ea asstt his is wou oun nd ded d com omrade ra ades des de musstt hav mu a e ad adde ded tth he eiir p pllea eas for for h fo hiis care ca arre e, so o do occtto orrss and nd nur urse ses te tend ded d to the to he fou ourr--le egg gged ed co om mba batta ant nt. t. An An Arrm my su surg urgeo rgeo rg eon re emo moved ved tth ve he sh he hrra ap pn ne ell sttiillll em e mbe bedd edded dded dd ed in S Sttub tub ubby by’ss bo by’s od dy a an nd st stit iittcch he ed d hiiss wo ou und ds ccllo ossed ed. d. An Anot othe her st her staf aff m me emb be err dre dres dr essse sed ed tth he area arrea a ea witth an an nti tisept ti se ep ptticc and d ba an nda dage g s. s. The hen S Sttu ub bbyy was as nes estl ttlled d into nto a sa nt safe afe fe pllac p ace ce to re esst. t. Ro obe b rrtt Con onrro oy a an nd ot oth othe he er me memb mber errs of e o the he 102 02nd d wor orri ried ried ed a gre rea att de ea al a al ab bou out th he eiir inju in ju ure red ffrriie re red e end nd d. “F For or day ays th ther ere wa was de was deep ep glo loom om in th t eo ou utfi t t le esst S Sttu ub bby b sho hould uld n ul no ot get w ge we elllll,” ,” not ,” oted ed a su ub bsequ sse eq qu ue en nt accco coun oun nt o off the he inj njury. njur ury. ur y. As Co Conr onr nroy oy latter e no otted ed, th th hou oug ou gh h, Stub St bby by “wa was as liike ke the he pro ro ove verb ve bia al ca att;; he se see em me ed d to ha have avve e man any lilive ves. s.” IItt too ook si six we wee ekkss,, bu b ut th t e in nju jure ed fr frie end nd of th the 1 10 02n 02n 2 d ev e en enttu ual allyy mad ade Trenches offered soldierrs a fu fu ulllll re eccovve errry. y Ne y. ea a arr th the en end of of hiss con nfine neme ment nt, some safety fr f om m gun nfire Stub St ubb byy fe ellt w we ellll eno noug ugh to to stta arrtt tou ou uri riing ng the he aissle es ( t left, hiding under leafy (a of wou of ounded nd ded ed sol old diie errs at at the he hos ospi pitta al,l, cha harmin rmiin rm ng tth he camouflage), butt they provided men wi men me with th hiss sun unny unny ny dis isposi posi po sittiion io on n an nd d his is to ou ug gh hne esss. n she no h lter from po p isonous gas (a ( bove, a demons stration n on the use of ga gas masks)).

IIff Stu ubb bb byy co cou ulld reco reco re cove over, ver,r, the ve he pa atttie ie en ntts ma may h ha avve e th ho ou ugh ghtt,, so co coul uld tth heyy.


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part of a military hero. In fact, that’s exactly how people saw Stubby: as their hero. Before long he was viewed not just as the mascot of the Yankee Division but of the entire American Expeditionary Force, representing all the troops that the U.S. had contributed to the Great War.

and Château-Thierry (white ribbon), as well as a commemorative award from the French government that hung from a peppermint-striped ribbon. Each Allied nation issued its own victory medal, too. U.S. soldiers clipped metal bars over their medal’s rainbow-patterned ribbon to identify where they had fought. Stubby’s victory medal included five crossbars: Champagne-Marne, AisneMarne, St. Mihiel, Meuse-Argonne, and the “Defensive Sector.” Stubby is credited with participating in 17 battles during those engagements. Throw in the Iron Cross that Stubby had won off his German captive, and the veteran would have looked the

n March of 1919 Stubby and Conroy set off on their final furlough in France. They didn’t get very far. No sooner had they reached Paris than Conroy became ill with the so-called Spanish flu, a deadly virus that killed millions after the war. Conroy ended up at a Red Cross hospital where, as he later


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Stubby by’s ’s uniform hung heavy with honors (fa far left, his j ck ja ckett, and, det etail, a sold l ie er’s vi vict ctor ory m dal) me l). It inc nclu lude ded d a wo w und d stri ripe pe on the ri th righ ghtt sh shou ould lder er area and a thr hree ee-b -bar ar se erv vic ice e pa atc tch h on the left f (ne near ar lef eft) t).. Ea Each ch se erv rvic ice e ba barr si sign gnifi ifie ed 6 mo mont n hs of co comb mbat at du uty t , or 18 to tota tal. l.

to release him provided he took good care of the convalescing soldier.” Thus liberated, Conroy and Stubby headed south to enjoy a quick look at the Mediterranean coast of France before returning on schedule to their unit. Four days later the 102nd Regiment departed France, bound for home. This time Conroy was spared the challenge of smuggling Stubby onto the ship; instead, he received permission to place the famed mascot safely aboard the Agamemnon. Stubby wasn’t the only animal that soldiers brought home from the front. Somehow, K Company cook Edward Simpson managed to bring Mademoiselle

wrote, “a regulation barred admission of dogs.” That restriction didn’t stop man or beast for long, according to Conroy. “On learning Stubby’s history, the doctors went into a huddle and decided that Stubby could bunk alongside the soldier’s cot in a tent on the hospital grounds. Stubby had no difficulty winning the friendship of everyone at the hospital. In fact, they wanted Stubby and the soldier to stay indefinitely.” Conroy concluded his story using his usual sense of humor and the twist of Stubby’s point of view. “When Stubby let them know he had already used eight days of a 14-day furlough and that he just had to see Monte Carlo, they agreed


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at the general’s Washington headquarters. He later recalled how, before the ceremony, “At the entrance to that building [Stubby] was told by guards that dogs are not allowed to enter. Stubby quietly told them he was expected at the offices of the General of the Armies, John J. Pershing. After a telephone inquiry, the bar was removed.” That same summer Stubby met U.S. President Warren G. Harding while attending a White House garden party for wounded veterans. “Mrs. Harding held Stubby’s leash for ten minutes,” Conroy reported. Now Stubby had met two Presidents. He would go on to meet a third, Calvin Coolidge, during a later visit to the White House. As Stubby’s fame grew, so did the tall tales about him. Sometimes journalists slaughtered the facts of his life. In one story the New York Times explained that Stubby had gotten his name because, “in the World War part of a leg was shot off.” Some reporters called the dog by the wrong name; errors included “Stubbie,” “Stuffy,” and “Hubby.” Others referred to Stubby as “she.” Reporters exaggerated how often Stubby had been wounded. One even claimed that “Stuffy” was such a “toughy” that “he happened to stop five bullets.” Rumors swirled. Stubby had started the Christmas Truce, where opposing sides had stepped out of the trenches to socialize. (False. The Christmas Truce occurred in 1914, long before Stubby

of his new surroundings and added fresh skills to his arsenal. He loved to chase after the leather football and would butt it with his head when he caught up to it. Then he would pursue the moving ball all over again. Fans loved his antics, and soon his performance became a regular attraction during the halftime break in home games. n the spring of 1921 the Humane Education Society, an organization now known as the American Humane Association, added to Stubby’s fame. For starters, organizers plunked the dog down on a featured float in its “Be Kind to Animals Week” parade in the nation’s capital. Horses, dozens of other dogs, even sheep and parrots, took part in the event. Laddie Boy, an Airedale owned by President Warren G. Harding and his First Lady, led the procession aboard a horse-drawn parade float. Stubby followed, seated beside a young girl. Attired in his medal-laden jacket, sporting a harness that displayed an American flag, his image appeared in newspapers as far away as New York City. Then the society created an award to recognize the dog’s “bravery under fire” during rescue work in France. Movie cameras whirled, and camera flashbulbs popped as no less a dignitary than Gen. John J. Pershing, commander of the American Expeditionary Force in Europe, pinned the gold medal onto the dog’s uniform. Conroy found humor in the way that Stubby’s fame opened doors, even


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s ews ny new many is ma hi g t, one of h r gh w (ri ew e grew ame gr s fam by’s by’s bby ub Stubby St h he t ed d rd r a wa w a g n ng h shi ers Pe John J. Pers John . Jo en. e Gen er fter es) aft ies) ie orie tor st s d sed se ease ea t ers te orte or epor ) Rep e). ove abo (abo y (a ery aver rav br f r brav l fo dal da meda dog a me dog do ow ow lo bel s (be gs g dogs h r do the ot a d o b y an tubb tubb een Stu we etwe ry bet a ry al ival f a riv of w l lo e b be ; g gs g ig J or ajor aj M n nt ant a ea e g rg Se ot Se co c asco n mas ine ri arine ari Ma ft, M l ft le ) g). ng in di d ardi r n G. Har re arre nt War d nt side si resi h Pre ith wi B y w ie Bo die a di t Lad ht, gh r g ri

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Stubby the war dog  
Stubby the war dog