According to Mourt’s Relations (original), written by Plymouth Colony founding settlers, at least two dogs made the ocean voyage with fellow settler John Goodman.
Mastiff and Spaniel
Goodman cared for and spent time with his large Mastiff and smaller Spaniel once they landed on Plymouth Rock.
In December 1620, Goodman and three other men ventured with the two dogs to gather materials for thatch roofing. Goodman, one other man and the dogs lost their way and spent a frigid night outside. They even heard “lions” nearby.
The next morning, the team returned alive and well to the settlers’ camp though Goodman sported frostbitten feet due to the bitter temperatures.
After returning to camp, Goodman took a walk with his Spaniel to get some exercise and relieve his lame feet.
The Spaniel seemed to be Goodman’s beloved sidekick and vice versa. This time, two wolves taunted them and the Spaniel cowered between his legs before the wolves lost interest and wandered away. Smart dog!
Unfortunately Goodman died that first winter and presumably the Spaniel and Mastiff were cared for by other settlers.
The First Thanksgiving, mythologized and painted by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris in 1912, features Pilgrims and Native Americans feasting together. Historians now debunk the people shown, relationships and even harvest foods.
Do you see John Goodman’s dog, the English Springer Spaniel, front and center in this painting? The American Kennel Club explains that a land spaniel would be historically accurate, as separate Cocker and Springer Spaniels were not bred yet.
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