The Story of Stubby The World War I Hero Dog is Hitting the Big Screen

Lori Ennis
by Lori Ennis
A new animated film about a dog decorated for service during World War I is being released April 8.

In 1917, J. Robert Conry adopted a small stray dog he named Stubby. Conroy was training in New Haven, Connecticut, and he smuggled Stubby aboard the ship that took soldiers to Europe to fight in World War I.

The Boston Terrier mix immediately became the beloved mascot of the 102nd Regiment and the darling of officers as Conroy had taught him to ‘salute.’ Stubby had several documented adventures as he ‘served’ in World War I, even earning a medal that was presented to him by General John Pershing.

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The animated retelling of Stubby’s adventures are the work of Director Richard Lanni, who said that he wanted to be authentic in the storytelling. Curt Deane is Conroy’s grandson, and says his grandfather would love knowing that Stubby’s heroism was being celebrated.

Deane says that Stubby was in 17 different battles, and was injured in a gas attack. He helped give troops early warning of chemical shelling episodes by sniffing them out, and even had a custom-made doggy gas mask.

Stubby stood by injured soldiers as medics looked on the battlefield for them, barking to point them out, and was even said to capture a German soldier behind Allied lines by biting him in the bottom and keeping clenched until the Allies came and got him.

Deane said that the best part of Stubby’s presence was just that he took some of the horror of war away, and gave some comfort to the soldiers. Deane says he was the first military service dog.

When they returned from the war, Stubby and Conroy toured the United States and met celebrities and presidents. He died in 1926, and there is a plaster cast with his hide on it at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History as part of “The Price of Freedom: Americans at War” exhibit.

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Lanni hopes that people want to take other looks at the war, and to see the war and humanity comingle. The filmmakers have partnered with the Humane Society of the United States as well as almost 90 other animal organizations to promote stray dog adoption. Lanni said that there are teachers making block bookings to take their students to see the film, and he believes that Stubby will yet again, be a force for good.

The movie features the voices of Logan Lerman, Helena Bonham Carter, and Gerard Depardieu and will premier in New Haven, Connecticut on April 8.

Lori Ennis
Lori Ennis

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