September 17-23 is Constitution Week which commemorates the signing of the Constitution which occurred September 17, 1787. To honor this legacy, Havahart® Wireless decided to write an article on George Washington and his love for dogs.
George Washington's Love for Dogs
George Washington was elected America's first President when he presided over the Constitutional Convention in 1787. He was also a tremendous animal lover who started the tradition of having pets at the White House.
Aside from his many other talents, Washington was also an avid hunter. To improve his hunting experience, he systematically bred dogs. He carried his fondness for dogs through the American Revolution and into the White House. While in the White House, Washington had horses, donkeys, some other animals, and over 10 dogs. According to the Presidential Pet Museum in Williamsburg, Virginia, Washington had hounds named: Drunkard, Mopsey, Taster, Cloe, Tipsy, Tipler, Forester, Captain, Lady Rover, Vulcan, Sweetlips, and Searcher. He also had five French hounds.
According to the book, The Pawprints of History: Dogs and the Course of Human Events, it is thought that when he was a Virginia delegate to the Continental Congress in 1775, Washington and his dog Sweetlips, caught the eye of Elizabeth Powel, wife of the Mayor of Philadelphia, Samuel Powel. Upon receiving Elizabeth's compliment about Sweetlips, Washington informed her that he longed to be able to hunt but could not while in Philadelphia. Elizabeth took the opportunity to help Washington by introducing him to her husband who hunted at the Gloucester Hunting Club in New Jersey. Through the mayor and the club, Washington formed many political connections who were impressed by his talents and intelligence. These connections became friendships that eventually led to his selection as Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army before the start of the American Revolution!
According to The Papers of George Washington Project conducted at the University of Virginia, two days after the Battle Germantown during the Revolutionary War, Washington came into the possession of the British General William Howe's dog as identified by its collar. It was never clear how the dog escaped from the British to the Continental camp, but had General Howe used a wireless dog fence, it's highly unlikely his dog would have escaped. Nonetheless, Washington's aide-de-camp, Alexander Hamilton, penned a memorandum to Howe on Washington's behalf. The note, which can be found in the Washington Papers at the Library of Congress, read:
"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."
It is believed that General Howe was impressed by the statesman-like quality of Washington and henceforth treated him with much more respect in their correspondence. Howe later resigned his position rather than increase the brutality of his soldiers when so ordered to do so when the war started to turn in favor of the Continental Army.
It is amazing what impact dogs may have had throughout the Revolutionary Period. Over 200 years later, dogs still play a critical role in our lives. Havahart® Wireless honors the Constitution, George Washington and his many dogs this week for their contribution to America.