By Linda Cole
Running the country is probably the most stressful job anyone can have. Beginning with our first president, George Washington, to President Obama, many different pets have lived in the White House. Most of the men who have held the highest office in the land had a dog by their side. There have even been some famous “first cats” too. As a pet lover and a lover of history, I ran across some interesting facts about a few of our presidents and the dogs that made them smile.
We know what he did for our country, but did you know Washington is considered the father of the American Foxhound? He imported a pack of young Foxhounds from England before the start of the War of Independence. During the war, the Marquis de Lafayette became friends with Washington and presented him with a gift of three French Foxhounds. Washington bred his English Foxhounds with his French Foxhounds to produce the American Foxhound. Washington loved dogs and he often talked about them in his diaries. He fondly mentions one who kept his wife Martha up in arms because the dog had a knack for breaking in and stealing whole Virginia hams from her pantry.
One story that shows Washington’s character as a man and as a dog lover recounts the Battle of Germantown, which wasn’t going in Washington’s favor. The American troops were camped at Pennibecker’s Mill when a little Terrier was spotted roaming the battlefield between the American and British lines. It was discovered the dog belonged to the British commander General Howe and had gotten lost between enemy lines. Ignoring the advice of his officers who wanted to use the dog to demoralize Howe, Washington surprised everyone when he took Howe’s dog to his tent, fed him, made sure he was cleaned up and then ordered a cease fire. After the shooting stopped everyone on both sides watched as an aid to Washington walked across the battlefield under a flag of truce and returned the dog to his grateful owner.