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Meriwether Lewis’ Dog Seaman

Today I went to the 13th Anniversary Celebration at the Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail Interpretive Center in Great Falls, MT. In addition to being the 13th anniversary of the opening of the interpretive center, there was also an impressive dedication of a statue of Lewis’ dog Seaman.

Seaman was the only non-human on the Lewis & Clark expedition. Meriwether Lewis paid $20 for the dog, quite a large sum at that time.

The idea for the life-size version of this Newfoundland dog came from Jim and Carol Mungas who owned a Newfoundland. Their dog was THE chief dog volunteer at the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center for many years. That dog has since passed away but this statue was modeled after him. Well-known Choteau sculptor Joe Halko was asked to do the model for the Seaman statue.

The project seemed to take longer than anticipated. There were 100 small versions of the bronze cast and over half of those are sold. Then the life-sized statue was cast.

Although Joe Halko and Jim Mungas have since passed away, Margaret Halko and Carol Mungas were on hand today to assist with the statue unveiling in the foyer of the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center. Originally planned as an outdoor event, clouds rolled in and out all day with periodic raindrops. Trust me, I don’t think Seaman would have minded, but the unveiling was moved indoors.

Area Newfoundland dogs, and a few others (including two Golden Retrievers who are dogs for vision impaired), were invited to take part in the Seaman statue unveiling. Dogs were given colorful bandanas to wear that said “Seaman, My Hero”.

There were cookies in the shape of Newfoundland dogs for humans to snack on and there were also dog treats for our furry friends.

After the unveiling all dogs present (and their owners) were invited forward to pose with the new statue. I expected chaos but these dogs seemed ready for some attention and photo ops. And maybe, just maybe, they wanted a closer look at Seaman!

The life-sized statue of Seaman will be placed permanently on the river side of the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center.

Seaman will keep watch over things, no doubt about that.

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