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Memorial Day Special: Sgt. Stubby, American War Hero

Memorial Day Special: Sgt. Stubby, American War Hero | JT Doyle & Ann Bausum


Every dog is a hero, but some are War Heroes. Sgt. Stubby detected gas attacks and warn his buddies about incoming missiles during WWI. It’s a special Memorial Day episode, and a must-listen.

Episode Notes

It’s Memorial Day, the day when Americans honor servicemembers who never made it out of their uniforms. So we’re taking a break from our regular schedule to bring you the astonishing story of a true War Hero, Sgt. Stubby.

JT Doyle crafted this story while an intern here at Dog Podcast Network. He tells Sgt. Stubby’s story with the help of author Ann Bausum.

Sgt. Stubby is a perfect example of why we all love dogs so much. He was a true American Hero, and we honor his service.

Read his obituary printed by the New York Times on April 4, 1926.

For more “True Tails” (maybe!) of Sgt. Stubby, you can read Bausum’s books and the following articles:

You can also visit Sgt. Stubby at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.

Today’s show is sponsored by The Dog Cancer Survival Guide: Full Spectrum Treatments to Optimize Your Dog’s Life Quality and Longevity by Dr. Demian Dressler and Dr. Susan Ettinger.

About Ann Bausum

Ann Bausum is a writer who tells tales from the past for readers of all ages. Her books for young people help upper elementary, middle school, and high school students discover the drama and significance of stories from history that may barely be presented in their textbooks. She makes history relevant, engaging, alive, and irresistible. In 2015 her adopted home state named her Notable Wisconsin Children’s Author. Two years later the body of her work received national recognition with the Nonfiction Award of the Children’s Book Guild of Washington, D.C.

Her debut title for adults—Sergeant Stubby—likewise explores forgotten history in ways that surprise and entertain readers while adding context to our place in the world today.

Stubby the War Dog: The True Story of World War I’s Bravest Dog

About Dog Cancer Answers

Dog Cancer Answers is a Maui Media production in association with Dog Podcast Network

This episode is sponsored by the best-selling animal health book The Dog Cancer Survival Guide: Full Spectrum Treatments to Optimize Your Dog’s Life Quality and Longevity by Dr. Demian Dressler and Dr. Susan Ettinger. Available everywhere fine books are sold.

Listen to podcast episode for a special discount code.

If you would like to ask a dog cancer related question for one of our expert veterinarians to answer on a future Q&A episode, call our Listener Line at 808-868-3200.

Have a guest you think would be great for our show? Contact our producers at

Have an inspiring True Tail about your own dog’s cancer journey you think would help other dog lovers? Share your true tail with our producers.


>> James Jacobson: [00:00:00] This episode is dropping on Memorial Day here in the United States. It’s a day where we honor all the brave men and women who have fought and died for our country. Throughout military history, dogs have gone to war and demonstrated their innate loyalty under the most extreme situations. Today, we bring you the story of one of those dogs.

Sergeant Stubby, who was a war hero in the First World War, the war to end all wars.

>> Announcer: [00:00:37] Welcome to Dog Cancer Answers, where we help you help your dog with cancer. Here’s your host, James Jacobson.

>> James Jacobson: [00:00:46] Hello listener. We are taking a brief departure from our regular programming in observance of Memorial Day, and to kick off our new summer schedule.

This story of Sergeant Stubby, a four legged soldier who served his country well, was produced by JT Doyle, who started with Dog Podcast Network as an intern in 2020.

>> JT Doyle: [00:01:13] Originally found wandering the military training grounds at the Yale University campus way back in 1917, the bull terrier mutt observed the soldiers of the 102nd infantry division, as they prepared to go fight in the First World War. The soon to be named Stubby developed a bond with one soldier in particular, James Conroy. Stubby would follow Conroy every day and began learning the drills in his own canine fashion.

>> Stubby: [00:01:38] Bark!

>> JT Doyle: [00:01:40] He even learned how to salute. And this was the reason the commanding officer allowed Stubby to stick around. The funny thing is, corporal James Robert Connery was never a dog person. He didn’t grow up with them or really have any other sort of canine experience. Conroy would soon find out what a monumental effect Stubby would have on his life.

>> Ann Bausum: [00:01:58] Stubby was the only dog Conroy ever had. He never had another dog. I mean, that was the dog that he needed in his life. He told his grandson that Stubby got him through the war. I think he had an unending well of gratitude for the role that that dog helped to play in keeping him safe, keeping him sane, and being companionable after the War.

You know, interestingly Conroy had two wives, but he only had one dog.

>> JT Doyle: [00:02:27] That was Ann Bausum, and if there’s one person that could be considered the authority on the Sergeant, it would be her. She has written two books on Stubby. “Sergeant Stubby: How a Stray Dog and His Best Friend Helped Win World War One and Stole the Heart of a Nation,” and “Stubby the War Dog: The True Story of World War One’s Bravest Dog.” With all her research, the only person that might know more about Stubby than her is Conroy himself.

Sergeant Stubby has an incredible resume when it comes to his wartime efforts. He learned to detect gas attacks before his allies, and was able to alert them, giving them the warning they needed to get their gas masks on in time. He could hear the whistling of oncoming artillery fire, buying them crucial moments for them to get to cover. He would even traverse No Man’s Land and found wounded soldiers that would have otherwise surely perish.

There’s evena famous story of him single-handedly capturing a German spy. These feats are incredible — that a dog could do all of that. However, one can’t help but to wonder if this is all true. The only evidence is word of mouth and Conroy’s personal accounts. Is it possible that this heroic pup’s legend was blown out of proportion?

>> Ann Bausum: [00:03:34] There was all kinds of embellishment.

That was the most challenging part. You could watch a story evolve in the press and Conroy lovingly assembled this amazing scrapbook about Stubby. You can almost follow the grains of truth through the evolution of this newspaper chain, kind of like a game of Telephone.

Stubby got wounded in battle.

Stubby got shot and his leg was blown off.

So the challenge was to try to arrive with some confidence at a credible narrative. The historical record was, was full of contradictions, but there were these articles that had particular resonance because they represented eye witness reports. For example, there was one clipping in a local Connecticut newspaper describing an Armistice Day commemoration in Connecticut that Stubby had attended, and how he had walked into the room and walked up to the Color Guard and it described what that looked like.

I had heard that the dog could salute, but this was, um, a clear eye witness account. It made sense.

>> JT Doyle: [00:04:43] So Stubby’s famous salute checks out, but surely there’s an Achilles heel to this legendary pup’s saga.

>> Ann Bausum: [00:04:49] Now there’s one claim that I was not ever able to substantiate and do not support. And that’s the claim that he was made an official Sergeant in the U.S. Army.

And he is universally known as Sergeant stubby today, but I came to the conclusion that Stubby earned that promotion, probably in the 1990s, on the internet. And it stuck.

>> JT Doyle: [00:05:13] While many love Stubby and eagerly followed his journey, there were also those that felt insulted that a mere dog was getting more attention than the soldiers who were putting their lives on the line.

They found that their country, that they had bled for, didn’t seem to always give them the respect or the help that they deserved.

>> Ann Bausum: [00:05:30] It’s not uncommon for soldiers to give their all and more during periods of combat and come home and discover that the world is not what they left behind and that their fit back into it is challenging.

And that they may not be embraced and welcomed the way they had expected. And this was true after World War One, just as it has been before and since. There were people who came back terribly shaken by what we would now call Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, and that was not understood or viewed empathetically then.

And they were shunned and ridiculed. There were people who came back terribly maimed inside and out, and they didn’t necessarily receive the kinds of medical care or psychological care, or even empathy.

>> JT Doyle: [00:06:22] Back during the Great War, we had little understanding of PTSD, or shell shock, as they called it back then. With treatments including things along the lines of electric therapy, we didn’t have a clue on how to treat it, or even what directly caused it. These wounded soldiers returned from the war and they found that their own country was not nearly as welcoming to these scarred soldiers as they should have been. So there were those that thought, why should a mere dog be held on this pedestal while our soldiers come back and were seemingly thrown to the wind?

>> Ann Bausum: [00:06:53] Conroy preserved two examples of people who wrote critical comments, “why are we glorifying this dog when we don’t even give the veterans the respect and the help that they need?” And that’s a very valid criticism. And I do not know how, how widespread that sort of thinking would have been. And Conroy, as I think I say in the book, um, specifically preserve those comments and with his amazing ability to find good in everything about Stubby, said that this was proof that Stubby was famous.

>> JT Doyle: [00:07:26] Whilst Stubby and Conroy are long gone by now, there’s still so much left to learn about these two American heroes. And in time who knows what we’ll find out?

There could be a hidden treasure trove of Stubby lore, just waiting to be uncovered. After all history is never done, regardless of whether the legend of Sargent is true or not, Stubby remains an integral part of American history. I am JT Doyle in Chicago.

>> James Jacobson: [00:07:58] Thanks to JT Doyle for that story. At Dog Podcast Network, we have a variety of shows for dog lovers created by dog lovers. And this summer, we are growing our slate of shows. Stay tuned for details on that. But if you’re a fan of Dog Cancer Answers, don’t worry, we will be back next week with a show entitled “I’m Flat Broke and I Want to Save my Dog.” It’s a topic that almost anyone with a dog cancer diagnosis will want to listen to. You can check out our entire back catalog of shows at And that is also where you can find the show notes to today’s episode, with links to photos of Sergeant Stubby. I want to thank you for listening today on behalf of all of us here at Dog Podcast Network, I’m James Jacobson, wishing you and your dog, a very warm Aloha.

>> Announcer: [00:09:03] Thank you for listening to Dog Cancer Answers. If you’d like to connect, please visit our website at or call our Listener Line at (808) 868-3200. And here’s a friendly reminder that you probably already know: this podcast is provided for informational and educational purposes only.

It’s not meant to take the place of the advice you receive from your dog’s veterinarian. Only veterinarians who examine your dog can give you veterinary advice or diagnose your dog’s medical condition. Your reliance on the information you hear on this podcast is solely at your own risk. If your dog has a specific health problem, contact your veterinarian.

Also, please keep in mind that veterinary information can change rapidly. Therefore, some information may be out of date. Dog Cancer Answers is a presentation of Maui Media in association with Dog Podcast Network.

James Standing in Office

James Jacobson

Host, Podcast Veteran

Maui, Hawaii, USA

James is one of the hosts on Dog Cancer Answers and founder of the Dog Podcast Network, a series of shows dedicated to all things dog.