Friday, September 16, 2011

Booty: Dog on Board

Last Friday’s Booty post mentioned Lady Washington and her sister ship Hawaiian Chieftain. These two ships offer cruises and lessons that keep the ways of wooden ships alive. They are based in Grays Harbor, where my mother's father caulked wooden ships for many years.  As this post over at their website, The Historical Seaport Blog, indicates, they’re keeping more than just canvas and rope authentic.

The picture at the header is a “fan photo” of Tiller, the official canine of Lady Washington. As the post notes, Tiller is a true seadog who is happy to be of assistance to crew and passengers aboard his home on the water.

Of course dogs have a long and heroic history on wave. In the West, from the fall of the Ancient Egyptian Empire to the 18th century they were the only four legged animals welcome at sea. Cats were considered very bad luck in the open ocean and dogs – particularly the small, stubborn ancestors of modern terriers – were employed to keep vermin at bay. As our old friend Hatch proved, they were extremely good at it too.

Though cats began to be employed as rat catchers at sea during the Enlightenment, dogs continued to find favor with seamen. New World hybrids like Labradors and Newfoundlands were particularly popular with early 19th century sailors. Their ability to rescue drowning men was prized and rewarded highly.

Be sure and support the good work of the Historical Seaport at Grays Harbor and follow their blog for more photos of their ships.  Especially, though, here’s to Tiller and his mates; a mug of grog to you and a hearty thankee from all of those who love the history and the future of the sea.


Timmy! said...

Ahoy, Pauline! I like Tiller's almost un-naturally blue eyes, too...

Pauline said...

Me too! I bet Tiller is a sweety; hope to meet him one day soon.