5. Our Four-Legged Friends

Today’s records are in a slightly lighter vein . . .

Dogs may not be able to talk, but sometimes they can bear witness to a wreck, as in this case when a dog arrived home at St. Ives, the first indication that anything was amiss with the Charles, lost off Portreath in November 1807.

Another dog was also a sole survivor of the steamer Prince, wrecked in 1876 off the Tyne.

Though several other records also report the sole survivor as being canine, more happily, the crew of the Reaper of Guernsey were taken off by breeches buoy in 1881, also off the Tyne, including a somewhat vocal animal: ‘Above the shouts of the men could be distinctly heard the yells of a fine terrier dog’ reported a local newspaper. When the Wandsworth  also struck the Tyne in 1897 another dog, also rescued by breeches buoy, ‘gave token of being exceedingly thankful for its rescue’.

Somewhat more famous was Monte, the St. Bernard plucked to safety by the greatest lifeboatman of all time, Cox’n Henry Blogg, from the Monte Nevoso aground on Haisbro’ Sand in 1932. Monte is the star of the RNLI Henry Blogg museum for their younger visitors.

Dogs sometimes became rescuers rather than rescuees. The ‘sagacious canine perseverance’ of one Newfoundland who doggedly (sorry . . . ) swam ashore with a lead line resulted in a successful rescue operation from the Durham Packet off Cley-next-the-Sea, Norfolk, in 1815. The breed became famous for its lifesaving capabilities and instincts and a number of other wrecks have similar tales of heroic Newfoundlands attached. No wonder Lord Byron’s Newfoundland was aptly named Boatswain.