Sunday, November 30, 2014

Book Review: Stubby the War Dog

Stubby the War Dog: the True Story of World War I’s Bravest Dog, by: Ann Bausum, National Geographic Kids, Washington, D.C., 2014.
This is a very interesting story of a man and his canine friend.  Stubby adopted R. Robert Conroy while he was dong basic training as a volunteer for the Army in WWI.  They were training at the athletic grounds at Yale University.  Stubby began to hand around the army trainees, particularly the kitchen staff, hoping for a bone or something to eat.  He was a mutt, but mostly of Boston Terrier extraction.  He befriended Conroy and they became best friends.  The dog trained along with the men.  He actually could sit on his haunches and salute, and he march and present right or left with the men.
However eventually, the army moved out headed to the war.  The left Stubby behind, but Stubby would have none of it and followed the men.  He hopped aboard the rail car on his own, and no one stopped him.  However to take him aboard the ship headed to Europe would be breaking rules.  Conroy hatched a plan to have a sympathetic crew member sneak him aboard.  The plan was successful, and after they were well on their way the brought him out of hiding and no one seem to mind.  The commanding officer spotted the animal, but Stubby won him over with a salute.
Thus Stubby became a war dog.  War is not safe.  Conroy had to fit an air mask for him.  On one occasion Stubby was wounded by shrapnel, and was evacuated as the wounded men.  Stubby of course healed form his wound.
Stubby performed many jobs, including being the mascot for his unit.  He would lie by the men as the slept, he helped the medics locate wounded, and at times would stay by a wounded man until the medics arrived, or until the man passed away, giving them some comfort in their final moments.  At times he and Conroy would help with delivering messages. 
Stubby had a knack for being able to distinguish Germans from Americans.  He is credited with capturing a German officer, who was perhaps a spy.  He took an Iron Cross from this officer which Conroy placed on his jacket over his rear end.  Stubby had a special jacket, which eventually included many medals and honors.  I don’t think any dog from the war was as decorated. 

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