In a story that reads like fiction, a remarkable bond between a soldier and his dog provides a unique look at World War I.
Stubby, a mixed-breed dog so named due to his stump of a tail, hung around the Army reservists training at Yale in 1917. Many of them reacted favorably to the dog, but none more than James Robert Conroy, who smuggled the animal onto the ship to France. Stubby even managed to charm the commanding officer, who allowed the dog to stay, not the last to fall under his spell. He became a working dog, hunting rats that plagued the trenches, among other duties. He even suffered an injury that necessitated a stint in the Army hospital—where he went to work boosting patients’ morale. Once back in action, he proved invaluable in finding enemy wounded and managing prisoners of war. He was even credited with capturing a German soldier. At war’s end, Stubby returned home with Conroy with honors, no longer a stowaway. Bausum successfully weaves Stubby’s astonishing story together with information about the war and reveals how connections between people and animals brought an element of humanity into the difficulties of war. Conroy maintained a scrapbook about Stubby, so the text is enlivened with period photographs, including those of Stubby in his uniform.
Dog lovers and budding military historians alike should find this canine perspective on the Great War an absorbing read. (timeline, research notes, bibliography, index) (Nonfiction. 10-14)