Halifax’s ties to the Titanic tragedy are well documented, but few know the story of the ship’s dogs. The Titanic had posh kennel facilities on board. A dog show was even scheduled for the day after the ship sank. Historians estimate there were nine to 12 dogs on board. (Like today, those wealthy first-class types love their dogs, and would happily pay to bring them along.)
Of those dogs, only two or three survived the sinking: lap dogs whose owners found space for them in lifeboats. One of the most famous passengers on the Titanic was American millionaire John Jacob Astor. He and wife Madeline, returning from a prolonged honeymoon after she became pregnant, had a terrier named Kitty on board with them.
When it became clear the Titanic was sinking, someone went down to the kennels and freed the dogs. Many people say it was Astor, but that’s unconfirmed. Madeline would later recall that as the ship started to go under, she could see Kitty running around the boat deck.
Astor’s widow never filed an insurance claim for Kitty, but another passenger sought $207 for her lost chickens and another one $750 for his pedigree bulldog. The cable ship Mackay-Bennett recovered Astor’s body, which was transferred to the Mayflower Curling Club. He was identified by his platinum ring and the $4,000 cash he carried. His body was sent to New York, buried in Trinity Cemetery.