The Canine Casualties of the Titanic Disaster

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Widener University

Three dogs, not among the survivors of the sinking of the Titanic, are pictured tied to the rail on deck aboard the ship.

From its crew members to its crockery, enthusiasts have raked over every aspect of the Titanic’s tragic tale. But what about the dogs on board?

There were 12 canines on the doomed ocean liner, three of which survived. Those include a baby Pomeranian, Lady, whose owner, Margaret Hays of New York City, wrapped her in a blanket and carried her into a lifeboat.

The other two dogs to survive were also small, pedigreed pooches who travelled in their owners’ cabins. (All the dogs on board belonged to first-class passengers.) Sun Yat-sen, a Pekingese belonging to Henry and Myra Harper (of the Harper & Row publishing dynasty) lived to yip another day, as did a Pomeranian belonging to Elizabeth Rothschild of New York.

(MORE: Should Titanic Artifacts Stay in Sea or Sell at Auction?)

The nine dogs confined in the onboard kennel — where they were walked and cared for by crewmembers — all died. Two belonged to American coal magnate William Carter, who reassured his worried children that their pets were safe as they clambered into the lifeboats. His daughter Lucy was later compensated $100 by Lloyds of London for her King Charles spaniel, while his son Billy received $200 for his Airedale.

The other dogs that perished included two Airedales owned by John Jacob Astor IV and his wife, a fox terrier named Dog, and a Great Dane who was the object of a failed rescue attempt by his owner, Ann Elizabeth Isham. She climbed out of a lifeboat after being informed that her dog was too big to join her and returned to the ship’s kennel. A few days after the sinking, her body was found by a recovery ship, clutching her beloved canine.

The Titanic’s four-footed passengers are included in a new exhibition about Philadelphia families aboard the Titanic at the Widener University Art Gallery in Chester, Pennsylvania.

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