Getting back to our hypothetical trip across early North America:
Suppose you are the leader of a party of five. Every man will bring a dog.
What breeds? What gender?
The dog must be able to keep up with horses and go 20 miles a day, day-after-day-after-day. It must be relatively impervious to the weather. It must be able to push through tall-grass prairie. It should serve dual functions, hunting and security. If it is too big it competes with humans for food. If too small it will not meet the minimum requirements.
If it can do something special (like run really fast or catch fish) it has more trading value for its stud service. On the other hand, Native Americans had no domestic livestock and bulldogs and herding dogs would have no special value to them.
From a portfolio approach, having several different breeds or crosses has advantages.
For example a Whippet X Fox Terrier would be faster than any of the Native American dogs and would be in demand for stud. A tracking hound would be useful for finding wounded game and so on.
Travel (and rattlesnakes) are hard on dogs and it would be useful to regenerate the pack while en route so including at least one bitch is mandatory.
Horses require forage. Most of early America was covered by trees. Horses are not tall enough to to browse tree leaves. Route planning must comprehend open, prairie land and time of year.
Grass is the "gasoline" that horses run on. Meadows were relatively localized in pre-colonial America. Grass could be reliably found where burns happened (lightning strikes or man-made) or flooding had killed trees (beaver dams). Most of the premium, cool-season pasture grasses are NOT native to North America.
Very roughly speaking, up the Potomac river to Cumberland, MD...then west to Morgantown, WV. Build a raft and float down the Monongahela river to the Ohio.
|Extent of pre-settlement tall-grass prairie. Native Americans maintained tall-grass prairie by burning|
Ohio river to the Wabash river, leave the raft and travel north until you hit tall-grass prairie. Then travel west.
Over-winter somewhere in central Illinois or northern Missouri.
Then west to St. Joseph, Missouri in late-winter or very-early spring. Then follow the Oregon trail, pushing hard to get across while the grass is still green and nourishing.
An alternative would be to hit the Mississippi and travel to about Memphis and then head west. Splitting the difference takes you across the Ozarks.
What changes would you propose?