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Remembering The Dogs of The Titanic

The Dogs of the Titanic

April 15th will mark 104 years after the famed “unsinkable ship” struck an iceberg in the north Atlantic, sinking on its maiden voyage to America. But, did you know there were at least 12 dogs aboard the Titanic?

It is suspected that many more dogs were on board that day, but because they were listed as cargo in the ship’s records, most details have been lost. It has been said that Titanic had excellent kennel facilities, even planning a dog show for April 15th, the very day that the ship disappeared below the ocean’s surface in the very early morning hours. While the world is remembering the tragic events of April 14th and 15th, we’re taking a moment to honor and remember the dogs of the Titanic.

As reported by Examiner.com, of the 12 confirmed dogs on the Titanic, only 3 survived the shipwreck – all of which were small dogs, 2 Pomeranian and 1 Pekingese, easily hidden inside a blanket or coat and carried into the limited space on lifeboats.

One Pomeranian named Lady, bought by Miss Margaret Hays while in Paris, shared the cabin with and was wrapped in a blanket by Miss Hays when the order was given to evacuate. The Rothschilds owned the other Pomeranian, and the Pekingese, named Sun Yat-Sen, was brought on board by the Harpers (of the N.Y. publishing firm, Harper & Row).

Captain Smith on Titanic's deck with a dog, possibly his own.

Captain Smith on Titanic’s deck with a dog, possibly his own.

The ship’s captain, Capt. Smith, has been seen photographed on board Titanic with his dog, a large Russian Wolfhound named Ben. However, Ben only spent one night on the ship, before it left the dock, and was returned home to Capt. Smith’s daughter.

In a particularly touching account, one passenger, 50-year old Ann Elizabeth Isham, was said to have visited her Great Dane in the ship’s kennels daily. At one point, Isham was seated in a life boat, but when told that her dog was too large to join her, she exited the boat. Her body was found several days later, clutching onto her dog in the icy waters.

A photo of dogs on the Titanic. A dozen dogs were confirmed to be aboard; three small dogs survived. (Photo courtesy of Widener University)

Only first class passengers were permitted to bring dogs on board the ship. A few of those passengers were, Helen Bishop and her Toy Poodle named Frou-Frou, millionaire John Jacob Astor and his Airedale named Kitty, Robert Daniel and his French Bulldog, Gamin de Pycombe, William Carter and his family brought along two dogs – a King Charles Spaniel and an Airedale, Harry Anderson was joined by his Chow-Chow (aptly named Chow-Chow), and many other 4-legged passengers who remain unknown, including a Fox Terrier named simply, Dog.

Helen Bishop survived the Titanic, later reporting that her dog, Frou-Frou latched onto her dress with his teeth when she left him in their cabin. She reportedly said, “The loss of my little dog hurt me very much. I will never forget how he dragged on my clothes. He so wanted to accompany me.”

John Jacob Astor IV, his wife Madeleine, and their dog, Kitty, about the board the fated ship. John and Kitty did not survive.

John Jacob Astor IV, his wife Madeleine, and their dog, Kitty, about to board the fated ship. John and Kitty did not survive. (via Cheddarbay.com)

In a fortunate turn of events, one passenger, Charles Moore of Washington, DC, had planned to transport up to 100 English Foxhounds via the Titanic, but made arrangements on a different vessel at the last minute. Two other dogs avoided disaster when they disembarked with their owners at Cherbourg, the ship’s first stop after leaving Southampton.

It’s hard to imagine being any part of this terrible tragedy, even harder to imagine having to make the decision to leave your dog when the ship began to sink… Would you have been able to do it?

288 Comments

288 Comments

  1. Jen Struk

    Feb 18, 2017 at 12:17 pm

    Never in a million years could I leave my dogs behind on a sinking ship. They are like children to me, definately huge part of our family. It would be like leaving behind my 10 yr old daughter to drown and freeze to death wondering why I left her. The guilt would kill me. I would not want to live. Helen Bishops story angers me. Her dog was a toy poodle, tiny enough to be hidden inside her dress or coat or wrapped in a blanket like a baby, as the Pomeranian Puppy was. How could she do it? And Elizabeth Ishams story is heartwrenching. She simply could not leave her Great Dane behind and was found dead with her frozen arms still clutching her beloved dog. It is shameful she is listed as her body never having been recovered, and buried in an unmarked grave in Canada when there is clear evidence of eye witness accounts that she had the only Great Dane on board, that she visited him daily in the kennels and that she left her spot in a lifeboat to go retrieve her dog when told he was too big to be put on a lifeboat. She was the only owner to bravely stay behind with her beloved dog. And furthermore, I feel it is an absolute atrocity that they indeed have record of finding her with her arms frozen around a Great Dane, but only retrieved her body, listed as an unknown woman, and left the dog behind to rot in the ocean. They should have been buried together, returned to her family. She gave her own LIFE to stay behind with her beloved companion, to comfort him so he would not be floundering around that ship or drowning in icey water without the comfort of knowing his Mama was right there with him. Even if they didnt know who they were at the time, the woman clearly loved her dog and should have been buried with him. IT breaks my heart. I do believe that is her Great Dane in the photo with the 3 dogs tied to the ships rail, above. He is the big one behind the bulldog to the right. A handsome boy, and a very loved dog. It is a shame they did not allow the dogs on the lifeboats, most of them were not big enough to take up a humans seat and could have been stuffed into their owners jackets for warmth, or held on their laps, or at their feet. Dogs are warm in outdoor weather longer because of their fur. They could have snuggled them for warmth in the lifeboats or even ised them to help warm those pulled from the water. There were more than enough spots for those dogs and so many more people, not to mention they were left to sink by the Californian and the Mystery Ship that passengers saw and Capt Smith signaled. It is just a disaster that should not have happened for so many reasons. Elizabeth Isham is my hero and I will never forget what she did and how brave she was.

  2. Manas

    Nov 22, 2016 at 10:37 am

    I guess dogs are not taken in lifeboats while the total amount of lifeboats were short for passengers. How badly dogs died. Some even couldn’t try to swim.

  3. Sarah

    Jul 26, 2016 at 1:40 am

    well this make me feel sad a little bit

  4. Cody

    May 9, 2016 at 11:22 am

    Helen Bishop… the trailer trash of first class.

    The dog should have lived, she should have period.

    Period.

  5. Rose Ann

    Apr 25, 2016 at 10:03 pm

    I would have never taken any of my animals because I would have been afraid something would happen…

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