In 1917, Stubby was a stray who wandered onto the field of Yale University’s football stadium, where the soldiers of the 102nd Infantry were doing exercises. Many of the countries involved in World War I had war dogs (almost always pedigreed dogs), and the Red Cross used dogs to negotiate no-man’s lands to aide wounded men. The U.S. was one of the few participants in World War I that did not maintain a canine force. Nonetheless, when the 102nd shipped out, the unpedigreed and untrained Stubby was spirited on board the SS Minnesota and followed the 102nd to Europe.
The 102nd was part of the 26th Division, one of America’s most battle-scarred formations which saw more fighting than any other American infantry division. Stubby was there for the duration. Stubby got his first war wound at Seicheprey, when a German shell fragment lodged in his left foreleg (he recovered). At the front, Stubby reportedly comforted wounded soldiers, could sniff out poison gas, barked warnings to soldiers in the trenches, and it is said he assisted in the capture of a German soldier. While the true nature of Stubby's exploits will likely never be known, the following is known to be true: he served in France, he was the beloved mascot for the 102nd, and he was wounded at Seicheprey.
After the war, Stubby met three presidents (Wilson, Harding and Coolidge), traveled the nation to veterans’ commemorations, was made a member of the Red Cross and the American Legion and became the mascot of the Georgetown Hoyas. The YMCA conferred a lifetime membership on the dog, stipulating that he was entitled to “three bones a day and a place to sleep” for as long as he lived.