If you are a dog lover, you will love this story. The other day, our local dog park posted something about the dogs who survived the Titanic on Facebook. So, I wanted to do a little research. I have never really read or heard much about the dogs that went down with the RMS Titanic, but I found this topic sort of interesting. I wasn’t sure how authentic the photo was depicting three dogs tied up to a railing on the Titanic. Was the photo real? I’ve never seen this photo in all the years of reading about the sinking of the Titanic.
Maybe the photo would hold the clues? I see wood decking that was on the Titanic, but did the Titanic have railing like this? How sad to think that these animals perished in the cold, icy waters of the Atlantic. So I set off to do a little research.
IS THIS PHOTO REAL? AUTHENTIC OR REPRESENTATIVE?
After doing some research, I believe this photo is a representative of three of the dogs that went down with the Titanic and is not an authentic photograph. I came to this conclusion not by looking into the details of whether the photo actually depicts the deck of the Titanic, but because of the Bulldog in the photo. This appears to be a British Bulldog and not the Black French Bulldog as depicted in an authentic photograph showing Robert Daniels holding his prized dog.
NBC News reported an exhibit that was shown at the Widener University Art Gallery, in Chester, Pa., marking the 100th anniversary of the sinking. The exhibit included stories of the dogs and their owners who traveled that fateful trip on the Titanic. J. Joseph Edgette, a professor emeritus of education and folklorist emeritus at Widener University, produced and curated the exhibit.
“Everybody knows about the iceberg, how the ship went down, and the heroic stories, but it doesn’t go beyond that, yet there are hundreds of other aspects that we need to give attention to,” said Edgette, who based much of his findings on eyewitness accounts of the evacuation, ship’s records and his own research. “Until recently, most scholarship has not covered the dogs.” (NBC NEWS)
The report goes on to say, “The exhibit features photos – some authentic, some representative — of the dogs and their owners. One photo depicts a group of dogs tied to the rail on the Titanic’s deck, which perished, and another shows crew members walking several dogs.”
J. Joseph Edgette, Ph.D reports in another interview, “There are two photos of dogs taken on board, one of crew members walking the dogs, and another of a group of dogs tied to a rail. The photos were taken by amateur photographer, Fr. Frank Browne, who disembarked the ship in Queenstown, Ireland before she embarked on her transatlantic journey.” (Sudan Vision- An Independent Daily)
However, after extensively researching all the photos by Fr. Frank Browne, there is no photo in his collection described by Dr. Edgette of the ‘group of dogs tied to the rail.’ As of this writing, I’m not sure who and when this photograph was taken.
I contacted David Davidson who now owns the rights to the negatives of Fr. Frank Browne. Fr. Browne had an extensive collection of over 42,000 negatives until his death in 1960. I asked him about the authenticity of the 2 photos purported to have been taken on the Titanic by Fr. Browne. He stated that “They are definitely not by Fr Browne SJ. They do not appear to have been taken aboard that ship.”
THE REAL DOGS ON THE TITANIC
Robert Williams Daniel traveled alone on the Titanic. He was a wealthy 27-year-old banker. No family members were listed on the passenger list. Robert did survive the sinking. Unfortunately, he lost his prized black French Bulldog. The last persons to see the dog alive was Mr Richard Norris Williams II. He and his father were swimming for their lives after the sinking and he ran into the dog in the icy waters of the Atlantic.
Richard was astonished to find himself face to face with first class passenger Robert W. Daniels’ prize bulldog Gamon de Pycombe doing likewise. . .(Encyclopedia Titanica)
Robert made a claim on the dog with his insurance agency since it was a champion dog. He had bought the French Bulldog named Gamin de Pycombe in England for £150. (over $13,000 in today’s currency)
We know that the three dogs representative in the photo appear to be a Fox Terrier (Owned by William Dulles), the Bulldog (owned by Robert Daniels) and a Great Dane (owned by Ann Isham). All three of these dogs perished on the Titanic. Only one of the three owners survived the sinking.
Unfortunately, Ann Isham perished with her Great Dane on the night of the sinking. It was reported that she was already in a lifeboat and left to go find her beloved Great Dane locked in the kennels below. She was never to return. There were other reports that her dog was not allowed in the lifeboat, so she refused to get in. There is yet another report that she was seen floating in the icy waters, frozen solid clutched to her beloved pet. We know from evidence that Ann’s body was never recovered from the disaster. She was only one of four first class passengers to perish in the disaster. So there is no firm evidence found to support any of the other claims.
Williams Dulles also perished in the sinking as did his Fox Terrier, “Dog”. Dulles worked as an attorney in Philadelphia, PA and had been traveling in Europe with his mother. He left her in Europe with his sister while he returned to the United States. He boarded the Titanic at Cherbourg as a first class passenger. After the sinking, his body was recovered at sea in late April 1912. His dog was never recovered.
We do know from fact there were twelve confirmed dogs on the Titanic and only three of them survived. All the dogs were owned by first class passengers. The three dogs that did survive were all small dogs and taken aboard lifeboats. They included two Pomeranians and one Pekingese. The other nine dogs were of different breeds.
One of the Pomeranians was named “Lady”. She was brought on board by Miss Margaret Bechstein Hays. Since Lady was only a puppy, she shared the cabin with her companion and wrapped her in a blanket when the order was given to evacuate the sinking ship. She was saved in lifeboat 7 along with newlyweds Helen Walton and Dickinson Bishop, who had just left their dog, Freu Freu behind in their stateroom. Freu Freu did not survive the sinking.
Margaret carefully tucked her little dog in her coat, and both survived. Margaret is best known for caring for the Titanic orphans. They were little boys that had lost their father in the sinking. He had taken them, without permission, out of the country. The boys were later returned to their mother.
While rescued on the Carpathia, Margaret was introduced to two young boys who spoke only French. Margaret spoke French fluently and she was concerned that they would be separated from one another. She volunteered to take the children into her care until their family could be located. The boys played with Hays’ dog, “Lady”, while they were on the boat. The boys were eventually returned to their mother, Marcelle Navratil, who traveled from Nice, France to claim her sons. (Wikipedia)
Mrs Martin Rothschild (Elizabeth Jane Barrett) also had a Pomeranian on board.
Mrs Rothschild was rescued in lifeboat 6 along with her Pomeranian (one of three dogs that were saved from the Titanic). The dog had apparently gone undetected during the loading of the lifeboats, and during the night as no survivors remembered the canine until the morning of rescue. When the lifeboat came alongside the Carpathia, crew members at first refused to take Mrs Rothschild’s dog on board. She protested that she would not leave the lifeboat until her dog was placed safely in her lap. She held the dog and was hoisted aboard the Carpathia. It was not highly publicized that Mrs Rothschild’s dog had been rescued – largely due to the fact that her husband had gone down with the Titanic. The fate of the dog remains a mystery, descendants of Mrs Rothschild claim that it was killed in New York during a fight with another dog, while Argetsinger and Ellison (1995) record that the dog was killed under the wheels of a carriage amidst the confusion at the dock after arrival in New York. (Encyclopedia Titanica)
The third dog rescued, the Pekingese, was owned by Mr. and Mrs. Henry and Myna Harper. He and his wife were returning from an excursion to Egypt when they boarded the Titanic. Mr. Harper was heir to the New York-based Harper & Row Publishing Company and brought a Pekingese named “Sun Yat-Sen” on board.
Mr. Harper and his wife had no children. Henry, his servant, his wife, and their Pekingese all survived by boarding lifeboat 3. Later after their rescue, Henry Harper was asked about saving their dog rather than other people. He said, “There seemed to be lots of room, and nobody made any objection.”
Most of the dogs were kept in Kennels on the F-Deck and were taken out for daily walks on the voyage. A ‘dog show’ was scheduled for April 15th, but, of course that never came due to the sinking of the Titanic in the early morning of that same day. It is told that at the time of the sinking, the dogs were freed from the kennels. It is also rumored that John Jacob Astor opened the Kennels to free his beloved “Kitty”, an Airedale, but this cannot be verified.
The dogs were last seen running up and down the tilting deck of the ship. Madeleine Astor, the pregnant new wife of John Jacob Astor, had a lasting memory of the sinking. She remember’s seeing Kitty pacing on the deck of the Titanic just as her lifeboat was being lowered. (This may have been rumor and not fact checked)
There is not a lot known about the other dogs that went down with the ship.
What is known is there were two Airedales (one owned by John Jacob Astor and the other by William Ernest Carter), a Chow-Chow owned by Harry Anderson, and a champion French Bulldog with the impressive name “Gamin de Pycombe,” owned by Robert Daniels. William Dulles brought a Fox Terrier, William Carter’s family had two dogs, one a King Charles Spaniel and one Airedale and Ann Isham had the largest dog, a Great Dane.
Several other dogs stayed in the staterooms with their owners. These included “Sun Yat Sen”, the Pekingese owned by Henry Harper and his wife, Myra, the Pomeranians of Elizabeth Rothschild and Margaret Hays, and a small dog of unknown breed named Freu Freu that belonged to Helen Walton Bishop.
Even though Freu Freu was a small dog and in a stateroom, it didn’t survive the Titanic sinking. Mrs Dickinson H. Bishop (Helen Walton), 19, and her husband Dickinson H. Bishop from Dowagiac, MI, USA, boarded the Titanic at Cherbourg. They were newly married and occupied cabin B-49. They had acquired the little dog in France and took the dog on board the Titanic.
Helen regretted leaving her newly acquired dog, Freu Freu, in their stateroom. She had been allowed to keep her dog with them during the voyage, but left her there when Helen realized that “there would be little sympathy for a woman carrying a dog in her arms when there were lives of women and children to be saved.” (Encyclopedia Titanica)
There is not much known about what happened to the Chow-Chow that was boarded with Harry Anderson. He was one of the few men that survived the sinking of the Titanic. Harry was born in the U.K. but spent most of his life in the United States. He had just finished up a business trip to Britain and had booked a ticket on the Titanic. He survived after boarding lifeboat Number 3. He did make a claim for his lost Chow-Chow for a total sum of $50.
William Ernest Carter was a resident of Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. His wife and two children, Lucy and Billy Carter were on board with him when the ship sank. William was in attendance at a dinner party held in honor of Captain Smith the night that the Titanic sank. The men played cards and smoked after dinner. William was able to get his family onto lifeboat 4. William was later rescued. His Airedale did not survive. Mr. Carter also owned a King Charles Spaniel which also went down with the ship.
Lying in the forward hold of the Titanic, and listed on the cargo manifest, was Carter’s 25 horsepower Renault automobile. It is listed as a case so perhaps the car was not fully assembled. He would later claim $5000 for the car and $200 and $100 for his dogs. He received the insurance reimbursement from Lloyds of London in the amount of $100 for daughter Lucy’s King Charles spaniel and $200 for son Billy’s Airedale.
The boy William “Billy” Carter, in his later years, never liked to discuss the Titanic disaster, but not because of the loss of life or the experience of it all. Rather, as an eleven-year-old boy, Carter never forgot the memory of having to leave his old Airedale behind on a leash. Lightoller would not permit the dog to get on the lifeboat 4 with the rest of the family. Young Carter cried but was reassured by Colonel Astor that he would take care of the dog and the last young Carter saw of his beloved Airedale was John Jacob Astor holding the dog’s leash. This may have been this fact that led to the rumor that Astor retreated to the ship’s kennels to release the dogs. (Encyclopedia Titanica)
THE NOT-SO REAL DOGS ON THE TITANIC
I found an interesting story about a fictional dog featured in a book by Marty Crisp called White Star: A Dog on the Titanic. It’s the story of an Irish Setter who is among the other twelve dogs of the Titanic. The story blends the real story of the disaster with a fictional twelve-year-old first class passenger, Sam who volunteers to help with the dogs in Titanic’s kennel.
Sam then meets the young Irish Setter while working in the kennels, whom he names Star.
“The two of them quickly become fast friends, even though Star is actually owned by White Star Line president J. Bruce Ismay. Sam and Star become inseparable, and have several amusing adventures as Titanic steams unknowingly towards her dark destiny. Sam manages to meet most of the other passengers who are also traveling with their dogs, and we get introduced to many of the dogs who really were on board.
When disaster strikes, Sam’s only thought is rescuing Star from the kennels. This he does, and Star returns the favor by leading the boy off the ship, eventually to be picked up by one of the lifeboats already in the water. The men in the boat try to save Sam, but refuse to let Star into the boat. Sam rebels and an argument ensues until one of the first class passengers demands that both boy and dog be taken aboard.
So both end up being saved and make it safely onto the rescue ship Carpathia, eventually returning to New York. After having gone through so much together, the bond between the two is immense. But Sam knows that Star really belongs to Mr. Ismay, and he has to make the most difficult decision of all, to return Star to his rightful owner.” (Source Encyclopedia Titanica)
In the preface of the book, Crisp also discusses the dogs of the Titanic. He also mentions the tale of Rigel, the famous black Newfoundland rumored to have saved passengers and directing lifeboat 4 by barking at the Carpathia as lifeboat 4 drifted close the Carpathia the morning of the rescue. (See my article about the Carpathia Rescue here) This tale was also documented by the New York Times in a 1912 article, but was discovered to be completely untrue.
I have rewritten the news report from The New York Herald:
Survivor’s Cries Weak, Dog’s Bark Causes Rescue of Boatload
Rigel, Whose Master Sank with the Titanic, Guides the Carpathi’s Captain to Suffering Passengers Hidden Under Rescue Ship’s Bow.
Not the least among the heroes of the Titanic disaster was Rigel, a big black Newfoundland dog, belonging to the first officer (William Murdoch), who went down with his ship. But for Rigel the fourth boat picked up might have been run down by the Carpathia. For three hours he swam in the icy water where the Titanic went down, evidently looking for his master, and was instrumental in guiding the boatload of survivors to the gangway of the Carpathia.
Jones Briggs, a seaman aboard the Carpathia now has Rigel and told the story of the dog’s heroism. The Carpathia was moving slowly about, looking for boats, rafts or anything which might be afloat. Exhausted with their efforts, weak from lack of food and exposure to the cutting wind and terror stricken, the men and women in the fourth boat had drifted under the Carpathia’s starboard steamship, but too weak to shout a warning loud enough to reach the bridge.
The boat might not have been seen were it not for the sharp barking of Rigel, who was swimming ahead of the craft, and valiantly announcing his position. The barks attracted the attention of Captain Rostron and he went to the starboard end of the bridge to see where they came from and saw the boat. He immediately ordered the engines stopped and the boat came alongside the starboard gangway.
Care was taken to take Rigel aboard, but he appeared little affected by his long trip through the ice cold water. He stood by the fail and barked until Captain Rostron called Briggs and had him take the dog below.”
Of course, there was no eye-witness account to the above story. There is also no record of first officer William Murdoch ever owning or bringing a dog aboard the Titanic. Key details of this story do not stand up to any fact check reported from the disaster.
AND FINALLY: THE LUCKIEST DOG EVER TO SET FOOT ON THE TITANIC
Probably the luckiest dog to have set foot on the titanic, but never to have sailed was Captain Smith’s Russian Wolfhound, Ben. Named after the industrialist Benjamin Guggenheim, who gave the captain the dog as a gift for his daughter. Here, he is photographed before the Titanic set sail. Ben was taken aboard the Titanic and stayed the night before the ship left Southampton. Luckily, Ben left the ship taken home to Captain Smith’s daughter before the Titanic’s ill-fated, maiden voyage.
Remembering the dogs aboard the Titanic (NBC News)
Animals Aboard the RMS Titanic (Wikipedia)
The Definitive Guide to the Dogs on the Titanic (Smithsonian)
Heroes of the Titanic: Rigel the Newfoundland Dog (HubPages)
White Star A Dog on the Titanic by Marty Crisp (Encylopedia Titanica)
Categories: Featured Story