Why The War Of The Stray Dog Occurred

Warfare takes a terrible human toll, even if it has inspired some incredible movies. World War I's Brusilov Offensive, for instance, saw 2 million soldiers killed in just two months. Compounding the trauma further, there's just no telling how long a given conflict may last. As History reports, the infamous Hundred Years' War between England and France actually dragged on from 1337 until 1453, a shocking 116 years. Occasionally, though, a conflict is headed off quickly before both sides become embroiled in lengthy devastation. This was certainly the case with the War of the Stray Dog, a ten-day conflict between Bulgaria and Greece.

This obscure and short-lived war is also called The Incident at Petrich. As Military History Now reports, the simple act of a soldier chasing a dog would swiftly escalate into a conflict only the League of Nations could nip in the bud.

Relations between Greece and Bulgaria were fraught indeed in the 1920s. Both nations had taken to small-scale forays into each other's land, raiding in a series of tit-for-tat acts against their neighbors. On October 18, 1925, a Greek soldier is said to have chased a dog into Bulgarian territory at Petrich and was promptly shot and killed by Bulgarian guards. This rash act ignited the conflict and gave the War of the Stray Dog its name.

The League of Nations steps in

Two further casualties seemingly followed: a Greek captain and private were both killed as they attempted to step between the two sides with a flag of truce, per Military History Now. Interestingly, though, there may never have been a dog involved at all. Another version of events simply details a Bulgarian attack on a Greek outpost (per The Northern Standard via Trove). In response, Greece purportedly "issued an ultimatum to Bulgaria," asking for an apology and a payment of 2,000,000 French francs. The Bulgarians, for their part, were reported to have raised a flag of surrender themselves, after shooting the men in a misunderstanding.

Regardless of which tale is the true one, the outcome was the same: Greece's belligerent dictator Theodoros Pangalos reportedly planned an invasion of Bulgaria when no compensation or apology came. In response, Bulgaria appealed to the League of Nations for aid. According to War History Online, the League ruled that both armies should withdraw and that Greece would pay compensation for the 50 or so Bulgarian civilians killed: £45,000 (approximately $62,000).