When you are an aristocrat Alaskan Malamute like me, you’ve got to hate these Great Plains. Reason One: It’s too damn hot. Temperatures ranged from 90 to 107 degrees in Nebraska today. Even the creeks and ponds were too warm to be cooling off spots. Any shady spots were occupied early in the day by the rattlesnakes.
Reason Two: History. There is much wonderful explorer and pioneer history here. However, for canines, past events are not a happy memory.
This is the territory famous for being the starting point for the Louis and Clark expedition just over 200 years ago. Those were the two lads that President Jefferson sent out to explore the unknown parts of the new America and to find an overland route to the Pacific Ocean.
In 1803, a year or so before setting out on the great exploration, Captain Merriweather Lewis bought himself a strange companion. It was a Newfoundland dog named Seaman. Lewis must have really wanted the dog because he paid $20 for it, a large sum back then.
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Seaman, until recent history had been known as Scanlon because of smeared ink on a document containing his name, endured the entire trip to the Oregon Coast and back. He suffered some hardships including being bit on the leg by a beaver.
His fared much better than the other 263 dogs who joined the exploration. They all were eaten when food ran low. Seaman was the only dog to return home, which shows the wisdom of choosing the right owner and sucking up to him and her.
You can read more about Seaman at www.lewisandclarktrail.com/seaman.htm and there have been books written about Seaman including Lewis and Clark and Me: A Dog’s Tale by Laurie Myers 2002.
Other highlights of knowledge acquired out on the Plains:
- In Lemoyne, Nebraska (pop. 40) rattlesnakes took over a new church and churchyard in the early 1940s. Ninety rattlers were rounded up before services could be held in safety.
- TV dinners were invented by a Nebraskan in 1954. Gerry Thomas, a salesman for Omaha-based C.A. Swanson and Sons, is credited with yet another way for people to get indigestion.
- Back in the 1980s a gosling was born with no feet in Harvard, Nebraska. Someone who took ownership of the gosling made shoes for him and taught him to walk. Andy the Footless Goose was featured in a 1989 People magazine article and appeared on the Tonight Show. Sudden fame can be dangerous. Andy was kidnapped and murdered in 1991. His body was found with his shoes still on.
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