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George Washington’s affection for Dogs contributed to his leadership skills

Ian Harvey

Contrary to the popular belief, man’s relationship with dogs is not a recent phenomenon nor it is only the escape for lonely souls, as some pseudo-psychology blogs would have us all believed. Some of history’s most prominent figures are known to have been dog lovers, while some of them were known dog breeders.

By Gilbert Stuart, 1797Source

By Gilbert Stuart, 1797Source

While forming the Continental Army in the forests, George Washington was uncertain about the fate of his pack of ragtag soldiers. However soon after Washington launched the guerrilla war against the colonisers, he came to the realization that he was, in fact, laying the foundation of a new nation, United States of America. There is, of course, no shortage of biographies and whole hosts of other books on the military character of Washington. However, not many folks know the fact that Washington loved his dogs and that he actually introduced a new breed of dog to the world. Washington loved fox hunting and during his time in Virginia, he would occasionally trek in search of foxes alongside his loyal pack of dogs.

Being a devoted and educated farmer, Washington had a fairly good understanding of animal breeding and other farming traits. Alongside his usual farming chores, Washington adhered to a unique hobby of building a pack of hunting hounds. Washington soon adopted this hobby as his passion and his journals are full of accounts of his dog breeding experiments. At last Washington succeeded in creating a unique breed of hounds that he personally named Virginia Hounds’.

Some psychologists suggest that Washington’s peculiar passion of dog breeding coupled with his love for his dogs helped him hone his skill at handling packs of soldiers. His love for his pack of canines is evident from the names he assigned to his dogs; there was Venus, Sweet Lips, Truelove, Taster and Drunkard to name a few.

A heavy winter coat with countershading in a mixed-breed dog.Source

A heavy winter coat with countershading in a mixed-breed dog.Source

 

At the height of the Revolutionary War, George Washington’s love for dogs went into the history pages in the most compassionate manner, and that in front of his enemies. Not many soldiers fighting under Washington knew anything about Washington’s affection for the animals, that was until the day revolutionaries came face to face against British General William Howe’s troops. General Howe had the control of Philadelphia, and American forces were pushing their way to win the Battle of Germantown; the odds were against Washington’s army. On October 6, 1777, a little terrier was spotted wandering haplessly in the fields between the two armies; a revolutionary soldier managed to grab the puppy and brought it to Washington. Everyone suggested to Washington that he should keep the dog as a trophy and that by doing so he could damage the morale of General Howe’s troops. Instead, Washington took the dog into his tent, washed and combed the dog and ordered a soldier to honorably return it to its rightful owner with a flag of truce.