Saturday, April 14, 2012
Remembering Canine Casualties of the Titanic
A new exhibit at the Widener University Art Gallery, in Chester, Pa., that opened Tuesday hopes to change that by including stories of the dogs and their owners who sailed on the Titanic, said J. Joseph Edgette, professor emeritus of education and folklorist emeritus at Widener University, who produced and curated the exhibit.
“I wanted to include things that people don’t normally run across,” Edgette said, noting that there were no Titanic-related exhibits that he was aware of that focused on the famed ocean liner’s canine passengers.
“Everybody knows about the iceberg, how the ship went down, and the heroic stories, but it doesn’t go beyond that,” 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.”
Twelve dogs set sail on the Titanic, according to Edgette, although other researchers have come up with differing accounts.
Those that were saved included a baby Pomeranian, owned by Margaret Hays of New York City, a Pekinese belonging to Henry and Myra Harper, also of New York City, and a small Pomeranian owned by Elizabeth Rothschild from Watkins Glen, N.Y. All surviving dogs were small and were kept in the first-class cabins of their owners, Edgette said.
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. 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.
Free and open to the public, the exhibit runs through May 12.
Sources: MSNBC.com and Time.com