It was 1917, and the Great War (later known as World War I), the one to end all wars, had been raging in Europe for nearly three years. In April, the United States finally got involved. At Yale University, a young soldier, Private J. Robert Conroy, found a brindle terrier mix puppy with a short tail that he christened "Stubby." The animal soon became the mascot of the 102nd Infantry, 26th Yankee Division, which would see action along the Western Front in Europe.
When the Yankee Division shipped out, Conroy smuggled Stubby aboard the troop transport, hiding him in a coal bin until the ship was far out to sea. Conroy's commanding officer discovered the pooch and was about to tell Conroy to get rid of him, until, the story goes, Stubby gave the CO a right-paw salute.
Once on the battlefield, the terrier became the greatest war dog in American history. Stubby was courageous, locating wounded men, sniffing out poison gas and alerting the soldiers, as well as barking when the enemy was near. Stubby even captured a German spy, which earned the canine a promotion to sergeant.
When the war was over, Stubby got to meet former presidents, and traveled to veterans' commemorations. He also appeared in vaudeville shows, earning more than twice the weekly salary of most Americans. And when Conroy went on to Georgetown Law School, Stubby became the college's mascot. Today, visitors can see Stubby mounted with all his medals at the National Museum of American History [sources: National Museum of American History, Kane].