His eyes seemed to light up as he watched the group of young soldiers march in unison on that Yale field in New Haven, Connecticut. It was another one of those long days where he’d abandoned his search for food to arrive at the sidelines and witness the orderly procession. He sat there alone, lost in fascination at the sight.
In the previous times he had been here, a few pats and passing smiles had come his way, but mostly his mingling about went unnoticed. Except this day, something happened. As the call to “Fall Out” was shouted, one of the soldiers approached him, smiled and reached down a hand to pet the mutt, a lonely, stray pit bull mix who responded with friendly licks and feisty wagging of his stubby tail. And, in a few minutes, that became the name his friend Corporal Robert Conroy bestowed upon him.
After letting him sleep in the barracks a few times, Stubby became a hit in Conroy’s 102nd Infantry Regiment, 26th (Yankee) Division. The dog’s playful yet obedient manner found him easing the nerves of men preparing to depart for the trenches of France to take part in a distant conflict that everyone in those days called the “Great War.”
Yet, Conroy knew the rules forbade him from taking Stubby along, however, he was so fond of his little friend he couldn’t bear to give him up. After all, as an infantryman, what were his chances of returning alive? Even if he did, would he ever be able to find his dog again? No. In spite of warnings not to do so, he decided Stubby was coming with him, no matter what.