Dogs are considered the first domesticated animals. The first domesticated dogs were used for hunting, but later became sheepdogs, war dogs and watchdogs of all types. We are all aware of the uses of dogs in guarding sheep and home. But dogs were given other jobs as well. Turnspit dogs were used as a source of power, they turned a treadmill connected to a roasting spit. Similar arrangements were used for household duties such as churning butter. Dogs were trained to herd cattle. They were used as draft animals to pull small carts or sleds for farms, peddlers, or travelers, to deliver mail, and to pull carts carrying people for transportation or entertainment. In the case of the latter, dogs were trained to fight and race, with wages being placed on the results. This was very popular by the eighteenth century.
|Dogs Returned from the Chase in colonial time|
Man’s Best Friend
Over centuries of cohabitation the dog became “man’s best friend.” Yet there continued a negative context in the relationship in history. The Roman proverb, cave canem—beware of the dog, indicated a negative side to the esteemed creature. The playwright and poet William Shakespeare used the terms "dog" and "cur" to describe despicable people. But overall, the feeling of man toward dogs was very positive. Benjamin Franklin once wrote that, "There are three faithful friends—an old wife, an old dog, and ready money."
|Hunting dogs were companions and workers in the 18th century|
Dogs of War
|Frederick the Great &|
|War dogs were used in ancient times|
Yankee Doodle Dogs
|Soldiers always had affection|
By the start of the Revolutionary War in 1775, dogs were well established and part of the culture of the thirteen colonies. However, they were not always welcome. In 1772, the city leaders of Williamsburg passed legislation called the Act to Prevent Mischief from Dogs that forbade anyone to own a female dog in the city. Residents could keep two male dogs as long as they wore marked collars. Strays would be put down. The time of the Yankee Doodle Spies ushered the beginning of
advocacy for animals. In 1776, an Anglican clergyman named Humphrey Primatt published a seminal work entitled: “A Dissertation on the Duty of Mercy and Sin of Cruelty to Brute Animals.” Sort of a Declaration of Independence for animals. The growing popularity of fox hunting in both England and the colonies created a need for hunting dogs. Although dogs traditionally herded livestock, carried messages, guarded their owners, and carried packs for their owners in addition to retrieving game. But they also became more popular as pets. During the Revolutionary War, they provided also comfort for their owners who were far from home. Dogs were both working dogs and pets in colonial America. And of course there were sporting dogs as well. While fighting, both British and American soldiers adopted stray dogs and other animals as they traveled. Many units in both armies kept dogs as pets and mascots. Let’s profile a few notables of the war who have a connection to the beloved canine.
|Many British Regiments had dogs as|
His ExcellencyThe premier figure of the Glorious Cause, George Washington loved dogs. As a Virginia planter, he was an avid hunter, and most of his dogs would have been used for hunting. Washington also owned Black and Tan Coonhounds. Curiously, he named them: Drunkard, Taster, Tippler, and Tipsy. Just as Washington experimented in farming, he is reputed to have done so with his dogs, breeding coonhounds with staghounds. The Marquis de Lafayette, a close and long term friend of Washington, sent him seven staghounds to George as a gift. During the time of the Yankee Doodle Spies these dogs were great hunters, bred to hunt using speed and sight. Three of Washington’s staghounds he named: Sweet Lips, Scentwell, and Vulcan. More names to amuse.
|Dogs played no small part in a planter's life - especially the first planter|
|Gen Charles Lee loved his dogs more |
Baron von Steuben
abandoning their capital to the British occupation. Somehow during the fog enshrouded combat, a small dog was found by the Americans. After the battle, they saw from his collar that he belonged to General Howe. Many around Washington urged him to hold the dog as a form of revenge for the loss and defiance to the British commander. But ever the gentleman, Washington saw the situation differently.
He ordered the dog returned to Howe with this two-line message:
“General Washington’s compliments to General Howe, 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.”
A fully documented as a draft of the note still exists in the archives, written in the handwriting of Washington’s aide-de-camp - Alexander Hamilton
|Yankee Doodle Dog|