Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Lewis and Clark's Best Friend
From the Sherwood Gazette (Portland, July 29, 2008)
"A little more than 200 years ago, Lewis and Clark made their historic odyssey to the Pacific coast. One member of the Corps of Discovery is not always mentioned or portrayed in paintings. This valuable asset was Capt. Meriwether Lewis’ black Newfoundland dog, Seaman, whom he bought for $20 in Pittsburgh, Pa.
"Historians speculate on why Lewis chose such a dog. He undoubtedly was aware of the water rescue and retrieving expertise of these animals, as well as, their great strength, and friendliness.
"Lewis needed a dog that could keep up with horses on long treks. The animal had to have a good coat of hair due to the extreme weather they would face in the mountains. Seaman proved his worth over-and-over. In one incident, he herded a stampeding buffalo bull out of camp before it charged over Lewis & Clark’s lodge tent. He warned constantly of grizzly bears and was even helpful in dragging a deer out of a river.
"On the trip back, some Indians stole Seaman and Lewis threatened to burn down their village if the dog was not returned. His men found the Newf where the Indians had released him and run off.
"In early July, a Sherwood dog helped re-enact the glory days of the Corps of Discovery. Athos, a Newfoundland dog, born at Royal Flush Newfoundlands in Sherwood, was one of five dogs that portrayed Seaman at Fort Clatsop’s annual Seaman’s Day on July 9. Athos (Royal Flush’s The Musketeer) greeted visitors from all over the country and Canada. Newfs are the only dogs allowed in the Visitor’s Center at Fort Clatsop because of their 'historical significance'. Athos is a black, 16-month-old, 138-pound male.
"Athos and the other dogs spent time being cuddled and petted by many people. Children were thrilled to have their photos taken with a piece of 'living history.' Athos walked down to Netul Landing, a lovely walk of just over one mile. Greeting visitors there, he rode back with them to the Fort in the shuttle bus.
"Besides posing with park rangers in period dress, Athos took part in discussions about Seaman and his adventures, as well as, a talk on Newfoundlands today. Newfs are famous for water rescue. The Pacific Northwest Newfoundland Club holds a water test every September at Horseshoe Lake in Woodland, WA. There are three levels of difficulty, 3 titles available, Water Dog, Water Rescue Dog, and Water Rescue Dog Excellent.
"Newfs were used in their native Newfoundland to help cod fishermen haul in the heavy nets. Stories abound of them swimming out to ships foundering on the rocks in terrible winter storms, carrying rescue lines in their mouths.
"Newfs are also considered Draft Dogs, and would pull small carts filled with firewood or produce for the market. The PNNC holds its Draft Dog test in May.
"The Victorians used these dogs to look after their children, hence 'Nana' in the Peter Pan tale.
"Athos earned his Canine Good Citizen certificate on June 14. He is working on Rally and Obedience and hopes to attain his Draft Dog title and first Water Dog title next year.
"Hopefully, he will become a therapy dog and do the 'Read to the Dog' program at the Sherwood and Tualatin libraries.
"Athos and his owner, Lynn deBeauclair, can be seen hanging out at the Sherwood Saturday Market on days when it’s not too hot."
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I've always been a bit skeptical of this story. I mean, really, herding a stampeding buffalo? Dragging a deer out of a river? Messin' with Grizzly bears? Please, it's enough of a task just getting around the show ring.
In any event, our Dad just bought us a book and started reading it to us. It's called "Sailor, The Hangashore Newfoundland Dog" and, of course, is about a Newfie who doesn't swim. Andrew liked it (no surprise there). I peed on it at the first opportunity and rendered it non-readable. Now that is heroic!
That's me all over.