When Sir Alexander Mackenzie set off across Canada to find a route to the Pacific Coast, not all explorers in his party were human. He traveled with European explorers, native guides, and French-Canadian voyagers (boatmen expert in controlling the canoes they rode down the rivers).
But they were also accompanied by a large, brown, friendly dog. The dog didn't even have a name. In Mackenzie's journals, he is simply "Our Dog."
On the trip, Our Dog had to hunt for his own food, too. When the humans rode down rivers in canoes, Our Dog followed along on shore. At night he slept lightly, serving as a guard dog. Once he warned the men of a wolf near the camp. Another time he chased away a bear trying to take their food.
One night the explorers camped near a friendly native village. Our Dog wandered into the forest while the humans slept. The next morning, the explorers searched for him, but he was not to be found. They were sad, but they had to continue their journey without him.
When Our Dog returned to the village, his friends were gone. After a while he started following the river, heading west to find them. The explorers reached the Pacific Coast, and after a brief stay, began the journey home. As they traveled along the river one day, they heard a familiar bark.
Our Dog, weak and half-starved, had found them! With food and care he was soon his lively self again. He joined his friends on their return journey, a true explorer.
If you'd like to read more about Our Dog, his story is related in the book "A Dog Came, Too," by Ainslie Manson (Margaret K. McElderry Books, New York, 1993).
(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society