The story of Stubby, a stray dog who was sneaked into Europe by U.S. soldiers and went on to become the most decorated dog of World War I, will be told in a new animated film being released this month.
Stubby was in the trenches during 17 battles, where he was injured in a gas attack and later used his keen nose to give troops early warning of chemical shellings. He even had his own custom-made gas mask.
A new film, “Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero” opens April 13, according to the Associated Press
Stubby was found on the Yale campus.
He was adopted in 1917 J. Robert Conroy, of New Britain, while he was training in New Haven.
When Conroy shipped out to France, Stubby was smuggled aboard the USS Minnesota in an overcoat.
He became the mascot of the 102nd Regiment by charming officers with his ability to salute, a trick which Conroy taught him.
He also would stand by injured soldiers on the battlefield and alert medics by barking. He was credited with capturing a German soldier he discovered behind the Allied lines, biting him on the rear end and holding on until help arrived.
“What I think meant the most to my grandfather is that Stubby took some of the edge off what was a horrific war,” said Conroy’s grandson, Curt Deane. “There was just an absolute comfort that soldiers got from seeing him. He was, in fact, the first service dog.”
Stubby died in 1926. His hide was placed over a plaster cast and is on display at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History in Washington D.C.
Director Richard Lanni says he tried to be as authentic as possible when telling the story of Stubby.
The filmmakers have partnered with Humane Society of the United States and approximately 90 other regional and national animal organizations to help promote the adoption of stray dogs.
The film features the voices of Logan Lerman, Helena Bonham Carter and Gerard Depardieu.
(Photos: Stubby in an April, 1919 homecoming parade for World War I veterans in Hartford, courtesy Connecticut State Library, via AP)