Way back, almost 400 years ago, the first Americans were starting into the very first Thanksgiving dinner. It seems like not much has changed for doggies, still right in the middle of all the action and right next to the food. But, who is this doggie in one of the most famous pieces of American history.
The first mention of any dogs being brought over to the New World was mentioned in a 17th century publication “Mourt’s Relation” which described the lives of the earliest settlers.
A man known as John Goodman came across on the Mayflower bringing his two dogs with him. One a Mastiff and the other a English Springer Spaniel. The names of these dogs have been lost to time, but their story lives on.
Note: Not the John Goodman on the right. He was born in 1952.
The dogs were productive members of the early settlement, acting as protection and accompanying their owner on hunts. Springer Spaniels were bred as hunting dogs for their resiliency in tough conditions. Mastiffs are big, strong and intimidating and were also used for hunting.
During a trip into the woods with the doggies to gather roofing materials, John Goodman and his friend Peter Browne ventured further to continue collecting and wandered off course. The two tried to find their way back but were completely lost. A search party was formed, but the men were not found.
It was getting dark and neither of them had clothes for the weather, lost and under-dressed on the American Frontier.
Night closed in, the sound of wild roaring could be heard in the distance. Believing it to be lions, the men, quite reasonably, wanted no part of it. So, they held the dogs close for warmth and to prevent them from running off to the sound of beasts in the woods.
They survived the night, leaving for the camp immediately after rising. The two found their way back with the two doggies around dusk. John Goodman’s feet were so frost bitten that his boots had to be cut from his feet by another villager.
Unfortunately, John Goodman didn’t survive the winter, however his dogs here cared for by the villagers. The next November was when the first Thanksgiving took place and when the painter Jean Leon Gerome Ferris immortalized the scene including the English Springer Spaniel right in the middle.