Sunday, June 21, 2015

PawsGo to Mount Vernon for a Dog's View of History


On a hot June morning, Boomer and I joined the All the President’s Pups tour of Mount Vernon, the home of George Washington.  While Mount Vernon is dog-friendly – dogs are welcome everywhere BUT the mansion, we took a special walking tour that’s a great combination of history and canine trivia.

We met our guide Maria, and 5 other history loving pups, at the estate’s Bowling Green Gate – with the mansion in the distance behind us, we embarked on a 1.25 mile walk along the original carriage route.

Hydrating pre-walk
As we walked, Maria explained that the Father of our Country was a tremendous animal lover – especially dogs.  Records show that Washington had numerous dogs representing every “classification” – hunting, herding, guard, coach, house, etc – each with a very specific job.

Our first stop on the tour was a visit to Mount Vernon’s sheep – a flock of rare Hog Island sheep charged the fence, excited to see the dogs.  Maria explained that the sheep were actually fond of people and attention, our half a dozen canines fit the bill. The dogs didn’t quite know what to do about the sheep – but appeared to be equally interested.
Devi Meets the Sheep of Mount Vernon

Along the route Maria told us that Washington was so fond of his granddaughter Nelly and her “house” dog (probably a Caviler King Charles Spaniel) that he bought a special decorative collar for the dog at the cost of $1 – a significant amount in the 1700s.

Washington loved his dogs and he was creative in their naming – including, Drunkard, Mopsey, Taster, Cloe, Tipsy, Tipler, Forester, Captain, Lady Rover, Vulcan, Sweetlips, and Searcher.

Hunting was THE sport in Washington’s time.  He had plenty of hounds to assist in the hunt.  A man of incredible intellect, interests and curiosity, Washington eventually set out to breed the quintessential hunting  dog -- “a superior dog, one that had speed, sense and brains.”   In the mid-1780s, Washington’s friend, the Marquis de Lafayette, sent him seven huge hounds from France.  Washington bred these French hounds with the standard black and tan hunting dogs and created what Washington called the Virginia hound, which we know today as the American Fox Hound.  So, not only is he the father of our country – Washington is the father of the American Fox Hound!

Following the original carriage route on our 1.25 mile walk
Following the tour, we wandered around Mount Vernon.  Lots of attention from visitors and Mount Vernon Staff. 
There were plenty of water bowls set out for dogs, but were we glad we brought our own – there is no water provided during the walk.

The All the President’s Pups tour started at 10:00 a.m., and took about 90 minutes.  It’s a leisurely walk with lots of stops.  The tour is held in the spring and fall.  Humans pay the full price of admission and dog tickets cost $5 each.
Beckett tired out from her tour
A great photo opportunity!

With the exception of the mansion, dogs are welcome throughout Mt Vernon