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Dog + Man: From The Odyssey to Beginners

Posted May 23, 2011 to photo album "Dog + Man: From The Odyssey to Beginners"

In Beginners, the dog Arthur and the human Oliver create an emotional bond that echoes back all the way to Homer.

Arthur + Oliver
Argos + Odysseus
Peritas + Alexander the Great
Gelert + Llywelyn
Guinefort + his Knight
Donnchadh + Robert the Bruce
Urian + Cardinal Wolsey
Pompey + William the Silent
Luath + Robert Burns
Boatswain + Lord Byron
Fortune + Josephine
Lauro + Napoleon
Seaman + Meriwether Lewis
Flush + Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Greyfriars Bobby + John Gray
Balto + Gunnar Kaasen
Hachiko + Hidesaburo Ueno
Seaman + Meriwether Lewis

Seaman + Meriwether Lewis

Statue of Captain Meriweather Lewis, Captain William Clark, and Seaman at the City of Saint Charles Park, Mo.; book cover

At the start of their transcontinental voyage, Captain Meriwether Lewis (of the famed Lewis and Clark pair) acquired a black Newfoundland dog he named Seaman. The heroic dog soon became an essential part of the expedition, appearing regularly in Lewis’ journals. Lewis recounts about his various encounters with the wildlife along the way, from retrieving geese to scaring off bears. In May, 1805, Lewis recounts how Seaman was seriously bit by a beaver. Lewis noted simply, “it was with great difficulty that I could stop the blood; I fear it will yet prove fatal to him.” A week later Seaman pops back up in the journal, standing guard. In July 1806, Lewis notes that the dog was “much worried” about a wounded moose. And in then his very last entry about the dog, on July 15, 1806, Lewis describes the dog’s persecution by mosquitoes: “my dog even howls with the torture he experiences from them." It’s a mystery what happened to Seaman after this last entry, but the dog fame continued in books, civic statues, and documentaries.