You may know the famous story of Lewis & Clark's expedition across the American continent to the Pacific Ocean and back. However, many have not heard the story of a lesser known member of the party, a brave black Newfoundland dog named Seaman. He was just a dog, but his story is a lesson of faithfulness and loyalty. His story is a lesson that even husbands and wives should consider.
Covering thousands of miles, Captain Meriwether Lewis, Second Lieutenant William Clark and their small band of companions have entered into American folklore. Captain Meriwether Lewis' faithful dog, Seaman, accompanied the expedition the entire way.
He was Lewis' faithful companion on a dangerous journey of many thousand miles. He defended his master's party; he witnessed Indian skirmishes, death, disease, success and failure and he endured freezing winters and long hot summers. He was injured numerous times, but he forged on.
Once, deep in the wilderness, Lewis had to perform painful surgery on Seaman to repair a life-threatening injury that the dog had received from a wild animal. He was even once stolen by an Indian tribe, only to be retrieved at gunpoint by his master. But, together, they forged on.
And, although the historic records are incomplete, there is even strong evidence that Seaman was loyal to his master unto death. As published in Timothy Alden's multiple volume history, A Collection of American Epitaphs and Inscriptions with Occasional Notes (5 vols.), after Lewis' tragic and violent death in 1809, Seaman remained at Lewis' grave until he himself died:
"The fidelity and attachment of this animal were remarkable. After the melancholy exit of Gov. Lewis, his dog would not depart for a moment from his lifeless remains; and when they were deposited in the earth no gentle means could draw him from the spot of interment. He refused to take every kind of food, which was offered him, and actually pined away and died with grief upon his master's grave!" (volume 5, page 98).
Loyalty is a very good thing, and is a lesson for us in many ways.
How loyal should we be? How faithful should a father or mother be to their child? How faithful should a child be to a parent? How much more faithful should a Christian be to our Lord and Master?
How loyal should a husband and wife be to each other during the long journey of numerous adventures, injuries and successes that is called marriage?
Dr. Meredith wrote in God's Plan for Happy Marriage: "'For the Lord God of Israel says that He hates divorce, for it covers one's garment with violence,' says the Lord of hosts. 'Therefore take heed to your spirit, that you do not deal treacherously'" (Malachi 2:16). He continues, "For, among other things, marriage is a 'test.' It is a test to see how loyal you will be to God's instruction regarding marriage and to your mate with whom you share this sanctified relationship. How much will you 'give' of yourself to this other human being? How much will you be patient, kind and humble in order to make it work?"
Meriwether Lewis had a faithful companion through one of the most amazing journeys in American history. His companion was not "treacherous." His companion was faithful and loyal unto death.
Seaman was a dog. We are potential children of God and heirs to immortality (Romans 8:17)! We are created in God's image (Genesis 1:26)! We are told to have Christ's mind (character) in us (Philippians 2:5)! How much more faithful should we be? To God? To our family? To our spouse?
If you are married, you are on a lifelong journey. Be loyal. Repair those injuries. Heal. Continue the adventure. Forge on.