Many expeditions of exploration have involved animals as well as people. The Lewis and Clark expedition relied on horses during some of their mountain crossings. They left their horses in the care of the Nez Perce people during the winter of 1805-06 while they headed for the Pacific. They returned for the animals in the spring and made part of their return journey on horseback. Dogs were also important to Lewis and Clark. The men of the expedition often ate dog when other meat was scarce.
Captain Lewis had a dog that was his companion and protector throughout the journey. Seaman was a Newfoundland dog, likely purchased in Pittsburgh before the start of the expedition. He appears in the journals of Lewis as well as of Clark, who noted that the people along the Columbia River were impressed by the “segassity [intelligence] of Capt Lewis's Dog”.
Seaman was an efficient hunter, helping to catch large animals, such as antelope. Lewis wrote admiringly in May of 1805: “my dog caught a goat, which he overtook by superior fleetness.” Lewis included Seaman’s success at squirrel hunting (which the dog achieved by drowning his prey) in an entry from the start of the journey. He also showed concern for Seaman after the dog swam out to catch a beaver wounded by an expedition hunting party: “the beaver bit him through the hind leg and cut the artery; it was with great difficulty that I could stop the blood.”
Seaman is not included on the official expedition roster but he earned the respect and affection of his comrades as he, too, crossed North America to reach the Pacific. The giant animal surely rescued the Corps of Discovery many times, including the night in May of 1805 when he diverted the charge of a male buffalo. The bull was “passing between 4 fires and within a few inches of the heads of one range of the men as they yet lay sleeping”. But, “when he came near the tent, my dog saved us by causing him to change his course.”