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 Sea-Going Pets 
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From Life in a Man-of-War, or Scenes in "Old Ironsides" During Her Cruise in the Pacific by "A Fore-Top Man" (Henry James Mercier):

"On ship-board, where four or five hundred souls are crowded together within the confines of a narrow space, communing with none save themselves for months and months, the wild antics of a monkey, the pert jabbering of a parrot, or the friendly pranks of any four-footed animal, quickly wins upon the feelings of Neptune's son in his confined state, and the creature in a short time becomes the idol of the ship's company..."

He goes on to tell the story of the carpenter's dog, Dick, that "became almost instanter a favourite with both officers and men; perhaps it was the nonchalance with which he tripped about the several decks, or the swaggering air with which he carried his tail curled over his back, as he appeared to claim the acquaintance of all whom he approached, that gained him a friendly greet from every one..."

Unfortunately, poor Dick disappeared one day. They speculated that he fell overboard.

The men mourned his loss:

"...they one and all proclaimed him the most inimitable of quadrupeds, and they retired with heavy bosoms and sorrowful faces, occasioned by the absence of their favourite; and for weeks, aye months, after his sudden disappearance, many a group, when huddled together under the lee of the boats, or enjoying the luxury of their pipes around the confines of the galley, would expatiate in glowing terms upon the vast acquirements and rare qualities of poor Dick."

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Fri Aug 04, 2006 6:08 pm
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Short bit about the rescue of the Pandora's cat.

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Tue Sep 05, 2006 11:35 pm
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From G.F. Lyon's A Brief Narrative of an Unsuccessful Attempt to Reach Repulse Bay, Through Sir Thomas Rowe's "Welcome," in His Majesty's Ship Griper (1825).

On the way north, the ship picked up two Shetland ponies. They were named Hecla and Griper. Lyon writes:

"Our ponies proved much better sailors than the poor cow, for having now become accustomed to the motion of the ship, they walked about the decks as familiarly as large dogs, and even improved daily in appearance."

Unfortunately, they had to be shot later on because their supply of hay had been lost overboard during a gale and the rough weather had taken its toll on them as well.

"They were accordingly shot, to the infinite regret of all hands, as they were very great favourites."

:(

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Mon Sep 18, 2006 5:27 am
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Post Valuable Dog
William Richardson relates an incident of a very valuable dog aboard his ship. In the Spring of 1783 near Finland, the merchant ship "Forester" was sailing in hazy weather, when the captain took notice of the ship's dog sniffing the wind and looking to windward. "Get a cast of the lead, says he, for I think the dog smells land." When this was done, the ship was found to be in shallow water. The course was altered and the ship was saved by the dog's acute senses.

Don

This account was taken from: William Richardson’s "A Mariner of England: An Account of the Career of William Richardson from Cabin Boy in the Merchant Service to Warrant Officer in the Royal Navy [1780-1819] as told by himself". Note: thanks to Susan for helping me identify this book from a terse comment about "Gunner Richardson" in the forward of another book.


Sun Nov 19, 2006 5:42 am
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I was skimming through a book called The Hentys and came across a reference to a small link the family had with Nelson. Thanks to the author's footnote, Mil was kind enough to find the original letter to the editor in The Times.

Anselm John Griffiths was commanding a frigate, which was in need of fresh meat. Griffiths' ship encountered Victory, sailing back to England with Nelson's body, and another ship-of-the-line (no name given). Griffiths received one sheep from the captain of the (unnamed) SOTL. When he went aboard Victory, Hardy gave him a sheep from Nelson's private stock.

From the letter:

"The line-of-battle ship's sheep was killed directly on board the frigate, and when that had been consumed it was Nelson's sheep's turn to be slaughtered. Captain Griffiths, while pacing the quarter-deck, observed the ship's butcher loitering about, as if wishing to speak to him, though afraid to do so. 'Well, my man,' said the captain, 'what do you want?' Upon this the man answered, 'We hope, Sir, you will not kill Lord Nelson.' 'What do you mean?' said the captain, 'Nelson is dead already.' 'Why,' said the man, 'we hope you will not kill Nelson's sheep, which we call Lord Nelson.' 'Why, what shall I do for fresh meat,' said the captain, 'as the other sheep is all eaten?' 'Well, Sir,' said the man, 'the crew will be very much obliged if you will not kill the sheep.' 'Well then, I will not have it killed,' said the captain. Upon this the man ran down below to tell the crew, and immediately a general and universal cheer ascended the hatchways. The crew made a great pet of the animal, and upon the frigate's arrival at Portsmouth, Captain Griffiths wrote to Mr. Henty, of Tarring near Worthing, to offer him the sheep, with a proviso that he should preserve it alive."

The letter goes on to say that the sheep lived for 16 years at Henty's farm and visitors would flock (he he) to see it.

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Wed Dec 13, 2006 6:19 am
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Lord Rodney had a dog with him at sea, but that dog was second fiddle to a dog named Loup.

The following bit from a letter written by Rodney to his wife from The Life and Correspondence of the Late Admiral Lord Rodney (Volume II) (1830) by Godfrey Basil Mundy:

"Do not forget my love to my dear, faithful friend Loup; and tell him, that though I have the most beautiful spaniel in the world, I make him keep company with servants, that I might not be tempted to take notice of him without Loup's leave."

A bit more about Loup's devotion from History of England: from the peace of Utrecht to the peace of Versailles, 1713–1783 (Volume VII) (1854) by Lord Mahon:

"...I shall owe no apology if I venture to record of the conqueror of De Grasse, that even in his busiest hours he could turn some kindly thoughts, not only to his family and friends, but to his dog in England. That dog named Loup, was of the French fox-breed, and so attached to his master, that when the Admiral left home to take the command of his fleet, the faithful animal remained for three days in his chamber, watching his coat and refusing food. The affection was warmly returned. On many more than one occasion we find Rodney write much as follows to his wife:—'Remember me to my dear girls and my faithful friend Loup; I know you will kiss him for me.'"

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Sat Dec 23, 2006 10:01 pm
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Well, not quite "pets", but....

" ....I bought an ostrich aboard ... being so troublesome aboard our ship, I was obliged to send it on shore....This bird...can digest anything; the two days it was on board ate two quarts of old nails and pieces of iron; seemed to be very partial to iron - it would pick at the nails drove into the deck ...." **

Just what every captain wanted, I bet. :lol:


**FIDDLERS AND WHORES - Candid Memoirs of a Surgeon in Nelson's Fleet by James Lowry

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Sun Dec 31, 2006 11:18 am
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From fiction (Ben Burton by W.H.G. Kingston), but something that could have happened:

Ben Burton and Goat Knock Over Captain
:D

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Wed Jan 31, 2007 5:04 pm
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From A Sailor's Life Under Four Sovereigns (1899) by the Hon. Sir Henry Keppel:

"We had not many pets, but the purser had a gray parrot, the right African sort, who would not talk or be taught, and was voted a nuisance.

"During one of our frequent squalls, in a lee lurch everything was capsized and sent to the scuppers, some of us sent off our legs, decanters, tumblers, lamps, the parrot's cage, etc. In the midst of broken crockery and glass, a voice was calling out 'Abaft there!' 'A glass of grog!' It was this much-abused parrot." (from June 1850)

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Fri Feb 02, 2007 7:39 am
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susan wrote:
From fiction (Ben Burton by W.H.G. Kingston), but something that could have happened:

Ben Burton and Goat Knock Over Captain
:D


....lovely illustration! I've got some of Kingston's books but not that particular one....amusing...still smiling. :lol:

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Fri Feb 02, 2007 1:21 pm
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I know Mil has quoted from Hercules Robinson's book, Sea Drift, before. I just came across this bit about Collingwood and Bounce:

"When Collingwood promoted me from his own ship to be Lieutenant of the 'Glory,' he sent a commendation with me, which, when my new Captain Otway read to me, made my cheek tingle, knowing how undeserved it was, and feeling that my having been discovered playing with and petting 'Bounce,' the Admiral's dog, 'Poor Bouncey, good dog, dear Bouncey,' &c.; and feeding 'Nanny,' his goat, with biscuit, when she butted her head at me, had effected more than I cared to acknowledge in my promotion."

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Fri Feb 02, 2007 5:14 pm
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From Naval Surgeon: The Voyages of Dr. Edward H. Cree, Royal Navy, as Related in His Private Journals, 1837-1856. Cree was on Vixen, when the ship encountered a typhoon in Oct 1844:

"I tried to get a little sleep by spreading a mat under the table and getting an arm round one of the legs, but the rolling and pitching of the ship rendered rest impossible. Our three dogs huddled up to me for companionship, but we were all rolling about the deck with chairs and everything not made fast. The poor dogs were much distressed."

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Fri Mar 23, 2007 7:42 am
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More about Boatswain, the Newfoundland, from Volume 2 of Recollections of a Naval Life (1834) by James Scott:

"The officers and crew derived great amusement from the equestrian feats of a middy (eleven or twelve years old, but extremely small for his age,) who, mounted upon the back of the gallant dog, would gallop helter-skelter round the decks. This racing, however, was forbidden, in consequence of considerable danger attending it: the dog one day made a sudden leap with his rider from the quarter-deck on to the main; I fortunately saved the lad's head from coming in contact with one of the iron belaying-pins fixed into the skids. Dogs are generally great nuisances on board a ship, but the Newfoundland race may be excepted, and often form a valuable acquisition..."

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Sun Apr 01, 2007 8:01 pm
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susan wrote:
More about Boatswain, the Newfoundland, from Volume 2 of Recollections of a Naval Life (1834) by James Scott:

"The officers and crew derived great amusement from the equestrian feats of a middy (eleven or twelve years old, but extremely small for his age,) who, mounted upon the back of the gallant dog, would gallop helter-skelter round the decks. This racing, however, was forbidden, in consequence of considerable danger attending it: the dog one day made a sudden leap with his rider from the quarter-deck on to the main; I fortunately saved the lad's head from coming in contact with one of the iron belaying-pins fixed into the skids. Dogs are generally great nuisances on board a ship, but the Newfoundland race may be excepted, and often form a valuable acquisition..."



.... sound like the doggy Grand National but it goes to prove, as you've said many times, it wasn't all guns and ropes. :lol:

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Mon Apr 02, 2007 1:14 pm
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Earlier in this thread, I posted bits about Polly the parrot and Boatswain the Newfoundland dog from James Scott's Recollections of a Naval Life. Here's a bit more regarding the attitude of the officers and men towards a favorite pet. Scott had obtained leave and he took Polly with him.

"Had the matter been put to the vote, I think I should not have found one out of the whole ship's company in favour of her abduction from the ship. Boatswain and Poll were rivals in the affections of all on board. It was not altogether fair on my part; for when once an animal or bird becomes a general favourite and pet, it is (as it has been justly observed) looked upon as public property, and any act of the legal proprietor indicating personal right, is regarded as little less than a gross injustice and an illegal assumption."

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Wed Jun 20, 2007 9:18 am
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