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Jun 26, 2020

George Washington and Dogs

George Washington is considered the “father of our country” and a brilliant general during the Revolutionary war.  Just like Grandma Lucy’s and all of you, President Washington was also a big fan of dogs.  Whether it was his hound Sweetlips accompanying him to the continental congress or his dalmatian, Madame Moose, loyally waiting for him by his coach, George Washington was a man who loved his dogs.  But did you know that his love of dogs helped win the Revolutionary War?

With the Revolutionary War in full swing, General Washington's main foe was a calculated tactician named General William Howe.  Howe had one job: command the British troops to squash out the revolution. By 1777, Howe had Washington on the defensive.

During the battle of Germantown, American soldiers rescued a small dog that had been found on the front lines. They soon discovered the dog was wearing a collar that showed the pup belonged to none other than General Howe! The soldiers immediately brought the dog to Washington.  Perhaps this dog could be used in some strategic way to even the odds on the battlefield by boosting morale for American troops while doing the opposite to the British?

Washington was an honorable man and knew the bond one had with their dogs, especially in these times, was not to be exploited. He insisted the dog be cleaned, fed, and taken care of.  In an unprecedented move, he then ordered a cease-fire, and made sure that the dog was returned to its owner, along with the following note:

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

After this act of kindness and honor, General Howe seemed to lighten up on his unrelenting pursuit of victory. Though his army continued to win battles, he began to show restraint in destroying Washington's army despite opportunities to do so. Eventually, orders came by way of the Crown to "show little compassion to the rebels." Howe made a surprising choice: he resigned from his position, a decision which was perhaps made in the company of his returned dog.

In time, of course, Howe's less-capable replacement was defeated, and Washington would return to Mount Vernon where he continued to breed hounds, ultimately perfecting another new breed, American foxhounds, which remain popular to this day.