From Mascot to Military, Stubby Left Pawprints on Hilltop and Beyond

Georgetown University Archives /The Hoya Despite serving as Georgetown’s mascot from 1921 to 1926, Stubby also became the poster canine for dogs and animals serving alongside soldiers in combat, and was a precursor of the military K-9 Corp.

When Jack, only a few weeks old, arrived on the Hilltop this summer, his small paws already had large prints to follow. While he may never understand the tradition which he now embodies, most Georgetown students are equally as unaware of the history of Georgetown’s dogs.

As it turns out, Jack is just the latest installment in a long line of official Georgetown mascots that reaches back to the beginning of the 20th century, though the tradition of dogs at Georgetown dates back to the days of the Hilltoppers of the last century.

Jack is a purebred English Bulldog, and the legacy of this breed has been on campus since 1962. Before the English Bulldog was adopted as the official breed of the university’s mascots, Georgetown used several different breeds, including several terriers and a Great Dane. As a side note, Georgetown’s mascot was listed as “a small boy” in the 1911 yearbook.

One of Georgetown’s earliest mascots, Stubby, predates the newest Jack the Bulldog by more than 80 years. Stubby was a mixed-breed mongrel, at least part Boston terrier, whose story began in 1916 at the Yale Bowl in New Haven, Conn.

The Connecticut National Guard was training in the stadium while awaiting assignment to the front lines of World War I. Stubby wandered out onto the field and was quickly adopted by the men training for war. When the 102nd Infantry Regiment shipped out to Europe, the men smuggled Stubby with them.

During the Great War, Stubby served the regiment as both mascot and fellow soldier. In his 18 months on the front lines, Stubby located wounded soldiers and saved his regiment from a mustard gas attack by waking the troops in the middle of the night. He carried messages under fire. He even caught a German spy by sinking his teeth into the agent’s rear.

Stubby was wounded by shrapnel but recovered to join his regiment to fight at Chateau Thierry and the Marne. His efforts in the war made Stubby a popular hero, especially among French women, who fashioned a blanket of the flags of all the Allied Nations for the terrier. With each battle, Stubby’s blanket garnered more medals and honors, both French and American, while back home Stubby’s bravery earned him front-page headlines.

When Stubby returned to the United States after 17 hard-fought battles in over a year and a half of service, President Woodrow Wilson invited him to the White House where General John Pershing awarded the terrier a gold medal of valor. In later years, he was also received at the White House by Presidents Coolidge and Harding. The Connecticut military department called Stubby “the most famous and decorated war dog in U.S. history.” Stubby’s loyalty and bravery was so famous that almost 20 years later it provided the impetus for creating the K-9 corps during World War II.

In 1921, Stubby again returned to the nation’s capital, this time to Georgetown, where his owner, J. Robert Conroy, was attending law school.

Already a renowned war hero, Stubby quickly became a favorite of Georgetown sports fans in the early 1920s. Stubby would push the ball around the field with his nose during the halftime break at Georgetown football games. This trick became a standard part of the repertoire for Georgetown mascots throughout the ’20s and ’30s.

Stubby died in 1926. He was stuffed, and his remains – including his medal-adorned blanket – were displayed for 30 years at the National Red Cross Museum. In 1956, the dog’s body was presented to the Smithsonian. After 40 years in mothballs, the venerated war hero was loaned to the State of Connecticut, which recently featured the Georgetown mascot at a statewide dog show.

“If there is any place on the Other Side for dogs that are true, and loyal, and heroic,” wrote THE HOYA upon Stubby’s death in 1926, “Stubby is no doubt there, gamboling after gray-clad warriors with all his former gusto.”

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