I stopped by the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center in Great Falls last week and saw a very large black dog laying on the floor just past the foyer. As I walked closer to the dog I expected it to jump up and greet me. Nope! That dog barely blinked until I rubbed his head and gave his ears a little scratch!
Buddy, the big Newfoundland dog, volunteers along with his owner at the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center two days a week (Wednesdays and Saturdays) from 10am until 2pm. He is solid black from the top of his head to the bottom of his feet. And, with all of his fur, it’s even hard to see his eyes amid all that black.
In addition to his Wednesday and Saturday volunteer time, I learned that Buddy is usually available to volunteer for "special occasions".
Buddy’s owner was pretty proud of him and soon a crowd had gathered around and the story began to unfold that tied Buddy to Lewis & Clark.
Meriwether Lewis purchased a Newfoundland dog before the Lewis & Clark Expedition left to explore the Louisiana Purchase. That Newfie was named Seaman and there is a statue of the dog with several members of the expedition overlooking the big United States flag in Great Falls.
Behind the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center, as you walk towards the Missouri River, there is also a statue of Seaman.
When you see the size of a Newfoundland dog it is huge and, at first glance you might be a bit nervous. Buddy was very laid back and pretty darn lovable though.
The Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center also recently sponsored a speaker from the Montana Historical Society talking about dogs and their purpose with humans over hundreds of years.
Many dogs were working dogs and I guess we can put Buddy in that category too. Buddy’s job is just to hang out and be lovable but the connection to the Lewis & Clark expedition is strengthened when you see him. The staff and volunteers at the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center do a great job talking about the Corps of Discovery and the dog that accompanied them.
And, Buddy does his job well too!
The Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center is located on the banks of the Missouri River on the east edge of Great Falls. It is open year round and if you are there on a Wednesday or Saturday you just may get a chance to meet my new friend Buddy!