Were There Dogs on the Mayflower?


Picture: Mayflower istockphoto

If you happen to have been on a voyage to a new land, would you need your canine’s companionship and safety? There’s strong proof that a few of the Pilgrims did. There have been not less than two canines on board the Mayflower when it left England in 1620, sure for the New World.  

As we get able to rejoice Thanksgiving, Vetstreet talked with Chris Messier, a dwelling historical past interpreter who performs Grasp Jones, the captain of the Mayflower, on a replica of the historic ship in Plymouth, Massachusetts.  

“I’ve been enjoying Grasp Jones for most likely greater than 10 years,” Messier says. “We meet numerous kids and so they all the time ask about the animals on board. Dogs are the most sure reply I can ever give. 

“There was a Mastiff and there was a Spaniel, and since they do attention-grabbing issues they get written about” in historical past, Messier explains.  

It wouldn’t be stunning for the canines to have joined their homeowners on the journey, he says, as a result of the English and Dutch (a few of the individuals on board have been from Holland) clearly had a love of canines, even again then. We all know this as a result of they typically appeared in portraits and different work at the time. In style kinds of canines included Mastiffs, Hounds, Spaniels, Terriers and lapdogs, Messier says. 

He says he’s satisfied that his character, Grasp Jones, introduced a canine alongside. That’s partially as a result of Jones had been commanding ships for 27 years, and sailors have been ceaselessly given puppies as presents in completely different ports, and likewise as a result of there’s documentation that he’d been taken to courtroom in England for illegally having looking hounds when he didn’t have the required quantity of land.

Cats Were on Board, Too

Dogs weren’t the solely animals on the Mayflower. Messier says there’s additionally proof that pigs, goats and chickens — in addition to cats and rats — have been on board. 

Cats have been generally introduced alongside on ships to catch the vermin. In truth, captains who have been accountable for the value of any spoilage may get a break on their prices if that they had a cat on board, Messier says.  

Felines have been additionally thought of good luck — and plenty of sailors wouldn’t even make the journey if there wasn’t a kitty companion on the voyage. It was believed they may sense a storm was coming, giving the crew time to put together.

Most of the cats on board have been feral, however there are experiences of sailors taming kittens to become pets, Messier says.

New World, New Risks  

The Pilgrims and their animals bumped into newfound hazards in the New World — together with wolves.

Messier tells one story about how the Mastiff and Spaniel, who belonged to John Goodman and Peter Brown, had a scary run-in with the predators. The English canines had by no means seen wolves earlier than and apparently thought they have been additionally canines, he says. They introduced them again to their masters, who had a tough time defending themselves from the wolves.

Fortunately, the Pilgrims survived and the Spaniel is credited with chasing the wolves off.

Natives and Pilgrims Had Dogs in Frequent

As soon as the 102 individuals aboard the Mayflower arrived in America, they found that the Native Individuals had canines, too. In truth, it was the solely animal that the two teams had in widespread, Messier says.

The Natives’ canines would typically be the first to concentrate on the strategy of the English in the event that they tried to ambush one in every of their villages. However the Natives solely had small dogs, and the English generally used their big Mastiffs to terrify them.

It’s believed that there have been probably extra canines with the English settlers, too, due to accounts that they have been used to assist their masters with looking. So it is honest to presume that, in 1621, when the Pilgrims gave thanks for a bountiful harvest after a yr of illness and shortage, there have been most likely quite a few four-legged buddies crowded round the desk, too.

Beloved canines have been typically round dinner tables again in the Pilgrims’ native England, Messier remembers. If the canines who arrived on the Mayflower have been something like typical canines at present, possibly they have been looking for scraps when the settlers had their first Thanksgiving meal!

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