JEFFERSON CITY — The Missouri House on Thursday rejected an attempt to name a dog that accompanied explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark as the state historical dog.
Lawmakers voted 84-67 to defeat a bill honoring Seaman, a Newfoundland that traveled with Lewis and Clark more than 200 years ago.
Missouri is home to four statues recognizing the dog, including one at the state Capitol.
Rep. Jason Brown, R-Platte City, said two fourth-graders approached him and asked that the state give the dog the honor. Brown said Seaman protected Lewis and Clark and deserves state acclaim.
The travelers ate 200 dogs during their explorations, but Seaman was spared. The dog was Lewis' pet and is referenced in journals as repeatedly saving members of the traveling team.
According to the secretary of state's office, Missouri has 26 state symbols, including a state amphibian (American bullfrog), state musical instrument (fiddle) and state tree nut (Eastern black walnut). Such symbols are often suggested by schoolchildren.
Lewis and Clark set out from St. Louis in 1804 in an attempt to find a water passage to the West Coast. Clark served as territorial governor before Missouri became a state. Missouri recognizes the two explorers in many ways, including schools and a state park named for them — but adding Seaman to the list of state symbols was too much for some lawmakers.
Rep. Jake Zimmerman, D-Olivette, said lawmakers shouldn't be concentrating on new state symbols during a tough economy.
"Do we need a state historical dog?" Zimmerman said. "Really, can't we just say it's enough?"
Some lawmakers questioned whether the dog was ever in Missouri and whether the state should be recognizing a breed from Canada.
"If we're going to have an official dead dog of Missouri, we should make sure it actually came to Missouri," Rep. Vicki Englund, D-St. Louis, said.
Englund recommended the state consider Missouri dogs that are more widely celebrated by citizens, such as Old Drum, the Warrensburg dog shot by a neighbor and eulogized by Sen. George Graham Vest, who coined the term "man's best friend."