When thinking about the first Thanksgiving, the obvious question on everyone’s mind is, “Were there pets on the Mayflower?”

Okay, maybe it’s not the first question that comes to everyone’s mind, but as I was sitting down to write this column today, I couldn’t stop myself from wondering.

I was reading an interesting article in Parade magazine called “Be a Pilgrim for a Day,” by A.J. Jacobs, who discussed the probable first Thanksgiving menu: venison, lobster, eel, mussels, fish, radishes, turnips and spinach. And some sort of fowl, maybe duck, swan, pigeon…or the ever popular turkey. And maybe thinking about all those animals–albeit some edible–maybe that’s when my mind wandered to the question of pets on the Mayflower.

It turns out, there were pets on the Mayflower! The 1622 book Mourt’s Relation, (actually titled A Relation or Journal of the Beginning and Proceedings of the English Plantation Settled at Plimouth in New England) describes two dogs; a Mastiff and a Spaniel.

According to the site The Pilgrims and Plymouth Colony: 1620 “The first indication of Pilgrim dogs being present comes during the second exploration of discovery….During that exploration the group of men stumbled upon two Indian dwellings. In recounting what they found, we were told they found two or three pieces of venison thrust into a tree, which they thought ‘fitter for the dogs than for us.’….This passing remark would seem to indicate John Goodman and his two dogs were with that group of men.”

I’m very happy to know there were dogs with the Pilgrims, perhaps lying under the table begging for scraps on the first Thanksgiving.