​General George S. Patton Jr. and Willie

During World II, when the general named his Bull Terrier for William the Conqueror, his officers wondered if he believed the gun-shy pup to have been the fearless warrior-king in another life. Patton, who carefully maintained an aura of eccentric genius, let them wonder.

Soon after World War I, the young tank commander Patton acquired a Bull Terrier as a family pet. He became smitten with the breed and owned many Bullies in his lifetime. Willie was the last of the line. He was beside his master in 1944 as the general’s famous tank corps raced across Europe, liberating huge swaths of Nazi-held territory.

As the Allies closed in on Berlin, Patton boasted, “And when we get to Berlin, I am personally going to shoot that paper hanging son-of-a-bitch Hitler, and Willie hopes the little son-of-a-bitch comes back as a fire hydrant!”

Patton was the ultimate alpha dog, with an unbridled—some say pathological—need to dominate. But he was putty in Willie’s paws.

“Old Blood and Guts” had G.I. dog tags made for Willie and once hosted a birthday party for his “second in command.” He indulged his dog’s every whim until December of ’45, when Patton died from injuries sustained in a freak auto accident in Germany.

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