George Washington’s birthday!

The First Gentlemen of Virginia, 1909 John Ward Dunsmore
The First Gentlemen of Virginia, 1909 John Ward Dunsmore

Birthday wishes go out to the first President of the United States of America!

George Washington wasn’t just a President or a General, he was also a dog enthusiast and passionate about fox hunting. He kept over 36 hounds and had some favorites that went everywhere with him. It could even be said that because of his hound ‘Sweet Lips’ he formed a friendship with Mayor Powel of Philadelphia. That led to friendships with men that could influence the government and they in turn lobbied for him and his eventual win to become commander of the Continental Army. (George Washinton: President, General and Dog Breeder )

Washington also helped bring into existence the American Foxhound. By crossing some French hounds with his own Black and Tan hounds, he created the original American Foxhound. The American Foxhound has changed a bit since the 1700’s but Washington was the first! Sounds like his dogs were a handful!

One of Washington’s hounds, Vulcan, black and so big a young boy could ride him like a pony, had powerful jaws and an insatiable appetite. It seems he had a taste for Virginia hams. A story is told of Vulcan sneaking into the Washington’s Mount Vernon kitchen, snatching a succulent ham, and running “straight to the kennels with it locked in his great jaws.” Mistress Martha was miffed, but the event delighted Master George. –Presidential Menageries: George Washington, Hound Dogs and Super Mules

There is also a story told of the Battle of Germantown in 1777. During the battle Washington saw a little terrier between the American and British lines. Luckily for that little terrier he was wearing a collar that identified him as the dog of British General, William Howe. Story has it that Washington fed, brushed and cleaned up the terrier, called a cease fire and returned the dog under a flag of truce to the British General.

Octr 6. 1777

General Washington’s compliments to General Howe. He does himself the pleasure to return him a dog, which accidentally fell into his hands, and by the inscription on the Collar appears to belong to General Howe.

There is an adult book that goes into this story and a bit more about Washington, but I haven’t read it so I can’t say for sure all dog lovers should go read it. General Howe’s Dog: George Washington, The Battle for Germantown, and the Dog Who Crossed Enemy Lines was written by Caroline Tiger. For kids there is a Step into Reading book titled, George Washington an the General’s Dog by Frank Murphy.

There is a lot we can learn from George Washington, the president. But also much is to be learned from George Washington the dog lover! Thanks George for your place in American and Dog history! Happy Birthday!

If you don’t find it as amusing as Master George when your dog steals food from the table, or if your dog runs away like General Howe’s terrier, contact Follow Me Dog Training LLC. We are training dogs and their owners in the Richmond Virginia area!

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