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5 Awesome Explorer Dogs You Should Know About

The winners write the history books so that not only are they inaccurate, but they also rarely highlight the historical figures that interest most of us – the dogs. In addition to Balto, the hero of Nome, Alaska, how many of us know the dogs who helped shape history? Dogs stood right next to the people chasing the horizon line. Taking payment in milk bones and scratches and mostly not due from history. Well, today that’s going to change. Here are five discovery dogs you should know about.

5 discovery dogs you should know

Bud Nelson

Photo by Callum Hill on Unsplash

First name Bud, last name Nelson was the first dog to drive through America with a shotgun. Until the establishment of the US highway system in the mid-20th century, the largest and most modern roads belonged to the pre-Columbian Incas in South America. Legend has it that Bud, a pit bull terrier, found Dr. Horatio Nelson followed Jackson for two miles in his new “car”. Jackson took him on board to complete the first voyage across the States. He wears his branded glasses in photos.


Photo by Riley Sullivan on Unsplash

Chinook was the literal father of new breed of sled dogs named after him. They are all-purpose athletic dogs known for running without fatigue – an essential trait to the Iditarod, where they run up to 150 miles per day. Chinook accompanied his best friend, sled dog trainer Arthur Walden, on the Byrd Antarctic Expedition. By the age of 12, he may have known that he had reached the end of his life. After Walden passed a dangerous stretch of crevasses, he took him off his lead. He stayed behind the sled team and eventually disappeared. His fate is unknown, but his offspring continue to turn out to be great sled dogs.

At a time

Photo by Zane Lee on Unsplash

One of the saddest stories about dog-led exploration, Laika was a Russian cosmonaut and a good dog. Scientists expected Laika to die quickly and painlessly from a lack of oxygen. Instead, she reached orbit alive, despite fear – her heart rate tripled during takeoff. She orbited the planet for 103 minutes before Sputnik lost its heat shield – the high temperatures killed her.


Photo by Twentyonekoalas on Unsplash

Leoncico was a “yellow” dog, son of a Spanish war dog, Juan Ponce de Léon. Its owner, Vasco Núñez de Balboa, was a Spanish governor and conqueror. Leoncico snuck aboard the ship that took Balboa across the Atlantic and accompanied him on a 70-mile walk through Panama to be the first Spaniard to see the Pacific. Leoncico was, true to its roots, a wild companion. Balboa valued his friendship enough to make him a gold collar and paid him wages equal to the ship’s archer.


Photo by Sri Ranjani Mukundan on Unsplash

In North America, explorers took a much longer overland trip to see the Pacific. The Lewis and Clark Expedition lasted from 1803 to 1806 and after the purchase in Louisiana led from St. Louis to Fort Clatsop. Lewis bought a Newfoundland puppy in 1803, called him Seaman, and he became a beloved member of the Expeditionary Party. He has appeared frequently in Lewis’ journal entries for the past two and a half years, but little is known about Seaman after the hike ends. During the trip he caught game, protected the group from wild animals and was a good boy overall.

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