Monday, 9 April 2012

This week, the world will commemorate the 100th anniversary ofthe Titanic’s maiden voyage and sinking in the North Atlantic.  As with many moments in history, dogs were part of this event.
Legend has it that not all of the acts of heroism that night were carried out by humans. There were a few dogs on board, and the Titanic’s luxurious accommodation extended to “marvellous kennel facilities”.

Although James Cameron's blockbuster hit Titanic did not feature any courageous canines, some historians argue that it could've been a dog who saved Rose's life on the doomed ship. According to the Belfast Telegraph, some of the most heroic acts that occurred on the night of the luxury ship's crash were carried out by the its canine passengers.

A photo (unattributed) reported to be staff of the Titanic taking
 dogs for a walk on deck.

 Dogs were among the passengers of the Titanic and the ship had dedicated kennel facilities.  A dog show had been planned on board the ship for Monday 15th April. When the ship was sinking, it was reported that a passenger went to the kennels and released the dogs to save them from drowning in their cages.

A story written in the New York Herald on April 21, 1912 credited Rigel, a black Newfoundland dog, with finding a lifeboat of survivors and alerting the
rescue ship, the Carpathia, of its whereabouts.
Rigel had been swimming through the icy waters looking for his master when he came across the lifeboat. He began barking and caught the attention of the seaman aboard the Carpathia. The journalist also indicated that Rigel made it to safety, but died in the arms of Jonas Briggs, who was on the rescue ship.

The Astors with their dog
According to (mixed) records, between 10 and 12 dogs were on board the ship.  The Astors  (perhaps the richest passengers on board) were traveling with their Airedale named Kitty.   Each day a member of Titanic’s crew would exercise the dogs on deck.
Three dogs survived the sinking. There was a Pomeranian owned by Miss Margaret Hays of New York; the pair escaped in lifeboat Number 7.  Elizabeth Rothschild escaped in lifeboat Number 6 with her Pomeranian.   The other dog was Pekingese named Sun Yat Sen owned by Henry Sleeper; owner and dog escaped in lifeboat Number 3.

The Titanic Museum in Branson, Missouri has established the world’s first tribute to dogs of the Titanic.  Mascots Molly and Carter greet guests each day from Wednesday to Sunday  and show them the kennel facilities of the ship, along with stories of dogs aboard.  This creative commercial for the exhibit is found on YouTube:
Not to be confused with actual history, a book by Marty Crisp for young adults tells the story of White Star:  A Dog on The Titanic.  In this fictional story, a 12-year old named Sam Harris is traveling from England to America.  Sam volunteers to help out in the Titanic’s kennels and meets Star, an Irish Setter. The boy and dog live through the sinking.
Ms Crisp compiled the following canine passenger manifest when she researching for her book about White Star:

Robert Williams Daniel, 27
(a banker traveling alone)
1) French bulldog “Gamin de Pycombe”
Went down with the ship and was pulled aboard by a lifeboat
Daniel- yes; Bulldog- no, although it was seen in the water by R.N. Williams
Henry Sleeper Harper, 48 (a publishing scion traveling with his wife, Myra, 49, a manservant, and an Egyptian dragoman)
2) Pekinese “Sun Yat Sen”
New York City
Lifeboat 3 wife, servant and companion all escaped in LB3
Harper-yes; Pekinese-yes
Helen Bishop, 19,(newlywed, honeymooning with Dickinson H. Bishop)
3) small, unknown breed “Frou Frou”
Dowagiac, Michigan
Lifeboat 7
Bishop and her husband- yes; Frou Frou- no, left locked in cabin
Harry Anderson, 47 (stockbroker, traveling alone)
4) Chow
New York City
Lifeboat 3
Anderson- yes; Chow- no
William Ernest Carter, 36, (traveling with his wife, Lucile, 36, daughter, also Lucile, 14, and son, William the II, 11. Also traveling with a maid and manservant)
5) & 6) Two small dogs. One was a King Charles Spaniel and the other  breed is unknown.
Bryn Mawr, PA.
Collapsible C; wife and children left the ship in Lifeboat 4; servants were both lost
All members of family- yes; dogs- no
Margaret Hays, 24, (traveling alone)
7) Pomeranian
New York City
Lifeboat 7
Hays-yes; Pomeranian-yes
Col. John Jacob 
Astor,47 (real estate tycoon traveling with his pregnant wife, Madeleine, 19, and a maid and a manservant)
8) & 9)
Airedale, “Kitty,”  and a second dog, probably also an Airedale, as per  report from survivor Edwiga Goldenberg
New York City
Astor went down with the ship and was crushed by a falling funnel Manservant was lost. Wife and maid survived on Lifeboat 4.
Astor- no; Airedales- no; wife- yes
William Crothers
Dulles, 39 (attorney, traveling alone)
10) Unknown breed, listed in channel crossing records simply as “dog.” Possibly a Pomeranian or a fox terrier
Went down with the ship
Dulles- no; dog- no
Ann Isham, 50, (spinster expatriate who had been living in Paris with her sister for the previous nine years) (Isham is a possible, not a verified, dog owner.)
11) Great Dane (could also have been a Saint Bernard or a Newfoundland)
Paris and New York City
Refused to get in a lifeboat without her dog.
Isham- no; dog-no.  A woman was spotted by passengers on the German liner “Bremen” two days after the sinking, floating in her lifejacket with her arms wrapped around a large dog.
Elizabeth Barrett Rothschild, 54 (wife of leather magnate Martin Rothschild, traveling with her husband)
12) Pomeranian
New York City
Lifeboat 6
Rothschild- yes; Pomeranian-yes Mrs. Rothschild and her dog were on the same boat as the famously unsinkable Molly Brown. Martin Rothschild went down with the ship.
FICTIONL Sam Harris, 12 (returning to the U.S. after three years of boarding school in England)
Irish setter, “White Star,” owned by J. Bruce Ismay, president of the White Star Line and also a passenger on the Titanic.
Southampton for Sam; Queenstown, Ireland for the dog
Lancaster, PA.
Lifeboat 4
Sam- yes; Star- yes.  Boy and dog were rescued from the water right after Lifeboat 4 was lowered.

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