Did Lewis And Clark's Dog Survive The Journey?

Dog death has long been a subject of fascination for human beings and an easy in with moviegoers' oh-so-malleable heartstrings. From the soulless murder of Old Yeller to the heartfelt strangulation in I Am Legend to the fact that any sequels to Marley and Me would just be titled Me, audiences hang on the mortality of pups like pups hang on to drool-soaked rope toys. But what about real dogs? History's finest pooches? The ones that endured IRL Incredible Journeys and maybe, just maybe, taught their owners a little bit about family along the way?

Lewis and Clark and Dog

The story of Lewis and Clark's dog is a timeless one. The fact that they named their dog "Seaman" has aged less gracefully.

Seaman was a Newfoundland, a beast of a pupper whose breed regularly tops 100 pounds. Loyal, heavy-boned working dogs originally bred to help fishermen, they're exactly the kind of furry companion that you'd want on a treacherous cross-country expedition.

Meriwether Lewis purchased Seaman for $20 in Pittsburgh in August of 1803, It wasn't an easy slog for the dog, at least according to Lewis' journals, in which he details a story of the dog being attacked by a beaver, sustaining arterial damage in his hind leg and requiring Lewis to operate. At another point, the story goes that Seaman (stop laughing, that was his real name) was abducted by natives, and Lewis threatened to kill their entire tribe if his dog wasn't returned, which is, uh, sweet? In sort of a John Wick way?

Still, Seaman persisted, and managed to survive the entire trip. The last known record of the dog came in 1806, when Lewis described his pooch's discomfort after being swarmed by mosquitoes.

Here's the bad news

In less heartwarming news, according to National Geographic, members of the Lewis and Clark expedition reportedly ate more than 200 other dogs on their journey. Though their favorite foods were "always elk, beaver tail, and buffalo," eating "up to nine pounds of meat per man per day ... dogs would do if dogs were all that they could get. Only Clark abstained." 

Not every story has a happy ending. Sometimes, you have to take your victories where you can find them. Sometimes, you just have to be grateful that nobody ate Seaman.