How about a dragon how cheerfully rules over a kingdom; his people all know him for what he is, and dragons are looked upon as wise and benevolent creatures. Dragonslayers from other kingdoms coming to free it from 'tyranny' are likely to get beaten to death by peasants with cast iron skillets.
Someone needs the blood of a dragon, given willingly, to make a rare potion. Guess who gets hired to sweet-talk a dragon into giving up some highly powerful blood?
Most large mammals, such as elephants, rhinos, and their modern ilk are ill-suited for domestication, but that doesnt exclude their use as engines of war. Rather than raise and train the Mammoth from birth, Mammoth Handlers instead capture the wild Mammoths at a young to juvenile age and train them for war. These animals are draped in armor and are unleashed as living war machines against the foes of the Mammoth Tribe.