George Washington, Father of The American Fox Hound

April 30: George Washington becomes the first ...

In the spirit of President’s day,

I thought it would be fun to write about another president’s favorite hunting companions.

George Washington wasn’t just one of America’s founding fathers.  He is also known as the father of the american foxhound.

George Washington owned a variety of dogs from herding dogs to lap dogs but hunting hounds were his passion.

So much so that he spent years trying to breed a super hound just for fox hunting.

The General, an avid fox hunter, hoped to create a superb breed of four-legged companions for the chase and began breeding his English, French and local hounds for desirable traits. The dog that he created eventually became known as the American Foxhound.

American Foxhound from 1915

He loved his dogs and he named every single one in his writings.

Names bestowed on Washington’s personal four-legged friends are of a telling nature as to his love for them. These included Countess, Doxey, Droner, Dublin, Dutchess, Forrester, Hearkwell, Jupiter, Lady, Mopsey, Music, Pluto, Ragman, Ringwood, Rober, Rockwood, Rover, Searcher, Shingas, Singer, Sweetlips, Truelove, Venus and Vulcan.


 

One popular story told by Washington’s grandson involved Vulcan one of his French hounds.

“It happened that upon a large company sitting down to dinner at Mount Vernon one day, the lady of the mansion (my grandmother) discovered that the ham, the pride of every Virginia housewife’s table, was missing from its accustomed post of honor. Upon questioning Frank, the butler, this portly, and at the same time the most polite and accomplished of all butlers, observed that a ham, yes, a very fine ham, had been prepared, agreeably to the Madam’s orders, but lo and behold! who should come into the kitchen, while the savory ham was smoking in its dish, but old Vulcan, the hound, and without more ado fastened his fangs into it; and although they of the kitchen had stood to such arms as they could get, and had fought the old spoiler desperately, yet Vulcan had finally triumphed, and bore off the prize, ay, ‘cleanly, under the keeper’s nose.’ The lady by no means relished the loss of a dish which formed the pride of her table, and uttered some remarks by no means favorable to old Vulcan, or indeed to dogs in general, while the chief [Washington], having heard the story, communicated it to his guests, and, with them, laughed heartily at the exploit of the stag-hound.”

 

Washington kept his hounds in a kennel just a few feet from his house and it had a creek running though it.  Washington visited the kennel and spent time with his beloved dogs every single day.

When I think of our founding Fathers and the legacy they left us I truly feel that we are standing on the shoulders of giants. And most important of all they were dog people.

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