by Judy Lore
Ark-Valley Humane Society
Some 300 odd years BCE, Peritas was celebrated for rescuing his master Alexander – later referred to throughout history as Alexander the Great – enabling Alexander to go forth and conquer much of the known world.
Philip II was in the midst of conquering Greece, which wasn’t all that difficult then, and teaching his son his formidable military skills. After Philip’s death, Alexander took over and moved on to break up the Persian empire and claim all lands from Egypt to India.
During the Persia Campaign a charging elephant cut off Alexander from his troops, and Peritas rose to the challenge. He bit the elephant on the lip, and it bled so much it was too weakened to continue, allowing Alexander and Peritas to escape. Alexander named a city after his faithful and courageous dog. Peritas was a dog bred for war; his breed is now extinct.
Yes, this story may be more myth and legend than truth, but elephants and lions were used along with war dogs in those times. It’s a good story though. What a brave dog Peritas was, and well traveled, too.
Another well-traveled dog was Seaman, companion to Lewis of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. On the expedition to discover what lay beyond the Mississippi River in 1803, Seaman was the only dog to accompany the team on through to the Pacific Ocean.
Lewis was too busy documenting and drawing images of the newfound plants and animals to jot down much about his dog’s adventures, but the final expedition accounts tell quite a bit about Seaman’s adventures.
At the beginning after just leaving Pittsburgh, Seaman was sent out to capture squirrels on the banks of the Ohio River. There was a lot of squirrel stew served thanks to Seaman. Much further west, Seaman diverted a marauding buffalo (bison) away from the sleeping team and saved them all.
There is no record of Seaman’s death, but it’s thought he survived until 1814 as there is a collar in a Virginia museum dated 1814 along with the following inscription: “The greatest traveler of my species. My name is Seaman, the dog of captain Meriwether Lewis, whom I accompanied to the Pacific ocean through the interior of the continent of North America.”
What fantastic walkies these two dogs had! It’s nothing like what my two get. But then I’m neither an explorer nor a conqueror of foreign lands.
Judy Lore is an Ark-Valley Humane Society volunteer.