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Expedition’s dog dies on journey

Sunday, June 20, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 1:00 a.m. CDT, Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Discovery Expedition of St. Charles has lost its best friend.

Seaman, the Newfoundland dog who brought joy to thousands of people along the path of the Lewis and Clark expedition, died Wednesday. He was 20 months old.

“He did everything with such style,” said Sue Auger, the owner of Denali Farm Newfoundlands in Middlesex, N.Y., where Seaman spent the first 10 months of his life. “He attracted a lot of attention because of his personality.”

The Discovery Corps re-enactors are on a three-year journey to re-create the original Lewis and Clark expedition. Seaman joined the expedition last August when Auger delivered him to Scott Mandrell in Elizabeth, Pa. She said the bond between Mandrell, who portrays Meriwether Lewis, and Seaman was instant.

“Scott said, ‘I’ve been waiting so long for this moment,’” Auger said. “We were sitting eight feet apart, and Seaman was lying with his head in Scott’s lap. He could have come to me, but he stayed with Scott.”

Auger said Seaman was the only puppy in his litter; hence his puppy name, Uno. She said two things set him apart from other dogs.

“One was his ability to understand sentences rather than simple commands,” Auger said.

The other was his habit of edging his way into a table.

“He would nudge a chair out and sit in it,” Auger said. “He was very funny that way.”

Auger said the Expedition needed a dog that was well socialized and “bombproof” to endure the challenges of the journey.

“They needed a dog who was not stressed by thousands of people, or cannons firing, or new locations,” Auger said. “Seaman was like that.”

The historical Seaman belonged to Meriwether Lewis and was a part of the expedition beginning with Lewis’ departure from Pittsburgh in 1803. Seaman served as both hunter and watchdog for the Corps of Discovery.

According to Auger, the average life span for Newfoundlands is 12 to 14 years. She said Seaman had been in good health before he left on the expedition.

A necropsy on the dog took place on Saturday at the MU Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory. The laboratory did not release the results, and Mandrell was unavailable for comment.

Waverly Acting Police Chief Jesse Coslet said the dog’s death is being investigated. He said foul play is not suspected at this point, although it has not been ruled out.


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