Belfast Telegraph

Friday 22 August 2014

Titanic: Did a dog save lives?

Duff Gordon, Titanic survivor
Titanic. Port bow 3/4 profile afloat immediately after launch. Photograph © National Museums Northern Ireland. Collection Harland & Wolff, Ulster Folk & Transport Museum
The Titanic Building will immortalise one of history's most enduring tales

Legend has it that not all of the acts of heroism that night were carried out by humans. There were a few dogs on board, and the Titanic’s luxurious accommodation extended to “marvellous kennel facilities”.

According to a story in The New York Herald of April 21, 1912, one winner that spring night was Rigel, a big black Newfoundland dog, who swam through the icy water in search of his doomed master and alerted the rescue ship The Carpathia to the presence of a lifeboat nearby. If it hadn't been for his barking, the story went, these survivors would have been missed. Rigel was thought to have passed into the hands of one Jonas Briggs, a seaman aboard The Carpathia.

This could be Titanic’s own shaggy dog story, created by a journalist looking to profit from the money handed out for Titanic stories, but a Pomeranian and a Pekinese are known to have been saved with their owners.

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