This year, April 15th 2017 marks the 105th anniversary of the day the "unsinkable ship," the Titanic, sank. This historic event evokes feelings of awe and sadness each year, but more importantly it gives us an opportunity to honor those who were lost in this tragic event.
Did you know, though, that twelve of the Titanic's passengers were of the furry quadruped variety? That's right! Twelve dogs were aboard the ship when it met its fateful end. So what happened to the dogs? And how did they come to be aboard the ship in the first place?
Getting to Know the Canine Travelers
It is a confirmed fact that 12 dogs traveled on the Titanic. All of them were accompanying their owners on the voyage to America. It is reported that amongst the variety of breeds being transported were a few Airedales, a Fox Terrier, King Charles Spaniel, Toy Poodle, French Bulldog, Chow-chow, Pekinese and two Pomeranians.
Nine of the dogs were kept in an onboard kennel facility where they were walked and fed each day. The remaining three dogs were smaller breeds and were allowed to stay in the rooms of their first-class owners.
Before the ship's early demise, a plan to hold a small dog show was in the works. Unfortunately, this idea was never realized.
The Fate of the 12 Dogs on the Titanic
Tragically, the nine dogs kept in the kennel perished the day the Titanic sank. Some of the stories linked to that event are especially heart-wrenching. For example, Helen Bishop for example, survived the Titanic but was forced to leave her little Frou-Frou behind. 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.”
Another devoted pet owner, Ann Elizabeth Isham, was already seated in a lifeboat when she realized her precious Great Dane was being left behind. She jumped back onboard and headed for the ship's kennel, but she never made it out. A few days later, she was found deceased in the icy waters, hugging the Great Dane tightly.
Happily, three of the dogs onboard did survive the sinking. They were all smaller breeds that could easily be carried by their owners. Elizabeth Rothschild escaped with her life and her small Pomeranian, Henry and Myra Harper (of Harper & Row publishing) managed to save Sun Yat-sen, their Pekinese and a Pomeranian puppy named Lady made it out with her owner, Miss Margaret Hays.
The tale of the Titanic is certainly a sad one. It reminds us that public opinion is not always right and that life shouldn't be taken for granted. But as we examine the dogs on the Titanic, we also see a timeless story of the love between pets and their owners shine through, even in the face of great tragedy. May we take today to honor that love and remember the people and animals that perished 105 years ago.