Friday, April 13, 2012


I wrote a blog one other time about the Titanic, and I talked about the twelve dogs that were known to be on the ship.  But this coming Sunday, April 15, will be the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, so it seems like I should write a little something more about the important subject of dogs on the Titanic.  Which is why today I'm going to tell you about the three dogs that survived the wreck.  All three of them were small dogs that could be held in someone's lap, so that's why they didn't take up much space in a lifeboat.  Two of them were Pomeranians, and one was a Pekingese.

The only photo of some of the Titanic's dogs,
taken in Ireland.  Widener University.
The first Pomeranian was named Lady, and she belonged to Margaret Bechstein Hays.  Miss Hays, who was 24 years old, had bought Lady in Paris, and now she was taking her home with her to New York City.  Miss Hays was traveling with two other ladies in first class, and after they heard the ship hit the iceberg, they went on deck to find out what was happening.  The steward told them not to worry, and to go back to bed.  But the ladies disobeyed him by worrying anyway.  They got dressed in some warm clothes, wrapped Lady up in blankets and went up on deck again.

Miss Hays a few years later,
after she was married.
When they got there, they put on life jackets, and then while they were standing around waiting, a man named James Clinch Smith went by and said, as a joke, "Oh, I suppose we ought to put a life preserve on the little doggie, too."  Then not long after that, the first lifeboat was ready for people to get into.  It was boat number 7.  Miss Hays and her friends and Lady got into the boat.  They were rescued several hours later by a ship named the Carpathia.

Mrs. Rothschild
We don't know the name of the second Pomeranian, but it was owned by Martin Rothschild and his wife, Elizabeth Jane Anne Rothschild.  Mr. Rothschild was a very important man in the New York clothing industry.  He was Jewish, and his wife was Catholic, but that didn't keep them from getting married.  They didn't have any children, and they really liked to travel.

Lifeboats on their way to the Carpathia
Mrs. Rothschild was 54 at the time of the Titanic's sinking.  She hid her dog when she got in lifeboat number 6, and nobody remembered seeing it until the Carpathia came to rescue them.  The crew of the Carpathia did not want to take the dog on board, but Mrs. Rothschild said she would not come out of the lifeboat without her dog.  So finally they let her hold the dog in her lap while they hoisted her up onto the ship.  Sadly, Mr. Rothschild did not get to escape in a lifeboat, so he went down with the ship.

There are different stories about what eventually happened to Mrs. Rothschild's Pomeranian.  Some of the Rothschild descendants said it was killed in a fight with another dog, but another story is that it got run over by a carriage during the confusion in New York when the Titanic survivors arrived.  Both of these are sad stories, so I guess it doesn't matter too much which one you want to believe.

The third dog that survived the sinking of the Titanic was a Pekingese named Sun Yat-Sen.  He was owned by Henry Sleeper Harper, who was heir to the Harper and Row publishing firm of New York.  Mr. Harper and his wife, Myra, were coming home from a tour of Europe and Asia.  They were traveling with a man named Hammad Hassab.  Mr. Hassab was a guide and translator that the Harpers had met in Egypt.  Mr. Harper was 48 years old, and Mrs. Harper was 49.  They were traveling first-class, of course, because they were rich.

Sun Yat-sen
After the Titanic hit the iceberg, a steward came and woke up the Harpers and Mr. Hassab.  They all went up to the boat deck, and they took their dog along.  For a while, they sat in the gymnasium, but then they went out on the starboard side deck.  That was the side where men were allowed to get into lifeboats, too, if there were no more women or children waiting to get in.  So both Mr. and Mrs. Harper and Mr. Hassab and Sun Yat-Sen all got into boat number 3.  Later on, after they were rescued, someone asked Mr. Harper why he had brought his dog into the lifeboat.  He said, "There seemed to be lots of room and nobody made any objection."

Anyway, that's the story of the only three dogs who didn't drown when the Titanic went down.  Some people seemed to be angry that dogs were saved when people were not.  But these dogs were all small ones that didn't take up much space in the lifeboats, and they did not keep any humans from being saved, especially since most of the lifeboats weren't even full.

So I think the lesson we can learn from this story is that if you are going to be on a sinking ship, it's best to be a little dog that can be hidden under your mom's coat, so that she can sneak you into a lifeboat with her.  Also, you should make sure to travel first-class.  But better yet, you should avoid getting on any ship at all if it is planning to hit an iceberg and sink!


  1. Good blog; I read the article in the KC I either never knew or had forgotten that 3 pets did SURVIVE the Titanic.
    Love, AP
    P.S. Sorry it's been awhile since I've been able to access your blog!

  2. Thank you so much for taking the time to compile this information. It's. 100 years today and nice to have news of survivors.

  3. sad,when only survived 3 pets. :[

  4. OMG why did the dogs have to die ??!

  5. If what you say is true about the second pomeranian then you should mention that in actuality a fourth survived as well. A newfoundland owned by the first officer of the Titanic named Rigel. "The first officer's large Newfoundland, Rigel, stayed behind with the ship. He was swimming in the icy waters after the sinking, desperate to find his master.

    At the same time, the SS Carpathia was speeding to the scene to search for survivors. In the darkness, no one saw that a lifeboat was in its path and the passengers were too weak to exclaim.

    Rigel swam between the lifeboat and the SS Carpathia, barking continuously. Finally, the Captain heard Rigel and ordered all engines stopped. The dog then guided the lifeboat through the night to safety.

    Once on board, Rigel seemed physically unaffected by his ordeal. He stood with paws on the rail barking in futility for his lost master until he was taken below for food and medical attention."

    1. This is a very good story. I did not run across any information about Rigel when I was writing this blog entry, but there is a lot of confusion about what happened the night the Titanic sank. Anyway, I hope the story about Rigel is true because he must have been a really brave dog!

    2. Story about Rigel is one of the myths around Titanic unfortunately

  6. Its amazing how histroy gets changed & rewritten all the time. I cant beleive people are saying rigel wasnt real at all. Now maybe the story of him barking at survivors was embellished....but to say he never existed is ridiculous.

    There are pics of him so yes he was real & survived as well.

    1. I really hope that Rigel was real and that he survived the sinking of the Titanic. Thanks for your comment!