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Dog of St. Bernard

Title:     Dog of St. Bernard
Author: Anonymous [More Titles by Anonymous]

St. Bernard is the name of one of the high mountains of the Alps.

The deep snow hangs so loosely on the sides of these mountains, that great masses often fall into the plains below, with a noise like thunder.

Wild snow storms also come on, and the passes in the mountains become so blocked up and covered over, that it is impossible to find them out.

In this way many travelers have perished, and been buried in a deep snowy grave.

Far, far up the mountain there is a building called the Convent of St. Bernard.

Here is found that wonderful race of dogs called the Dogs of St. Bernard, famous all over the world for their noble deeds.

These dogs are trained to go out on the mountains among the snow, and search for missing travelers.

Suppose you are taking a journey across the Alps.

A terrible snow storm comes on. Night is drawing near, while you are weary with your journey, and perishing with cold and hunger.

Your whole body begins to feel numb, and soon you will be unable to go any farther.

You think of home, and kind friends there, and you kneel down to pray that you may not be left to perish in the snow.

At the very moment you are about to give up in despair, you hear the deep bark of a dog, coming nearer and nearer amid the darkness and the snow-drift!

It is the sweetest sound you ever heard in your life.

How thankful you are when you see two noble-looking dogs coming toward you, one with a flask of spirits tied to his neck, and the other carrying a cloak to wrap around you!

How eagerly you untie the flask and drink, and how gratefully you cover yourself with the cloak!

The dogs look on, and seem to understand all. They hasten back to fetch the monks, who soon come to the spot.

You are carried to the Convent, and there rubbed and warmed, till at last you revive and know that you are saved.

Such is the work the monks of St. Bernard and their famous dogs have often had to do.

One dog saved the lives of twenty-two persons, who, but for his help, would have perished.

For many years this dog wore a medal round his neck, which was given him in honor of his deeds!

The following story tells how this noble creature at last met his death:—

At the foot of the mountain there is a little village. Here dwelt a poor courier, who used to carry letters and messages across the mountain.

This was the way he procured bread for his wife and children.

At one time, when on his way back to his home, a terrible storm came on.

With great difficulty he made his way to the Convent.

The monks did all they could to persuade him to remain till the storm had passed away.

But the poor man knew how anxious his family would be. He was sure that they would be out on the mountain in search of him;—and so they really were.

He felt that he must proceed, and the monks spoke to him in vain.

All they could do was to furnish him with two guides, attended by two dogs.

One of these dogs was the noble animal that wore the medal.

But the poor courier and his family never met.

On his way down the mountain with the guides and the dogs, a great mass of frozen snow fell upon them, and courier, guides, and dogs, were all buried beneath it.


An interesting and affecting story is told of two of these brave dogs having once saved the life of a little boy who had lost his way on the mountain.


It was a clear, cold, winter night,
The heavens all brightly starred,
Where on Mount Bernard’s snowy height
The good monks kept their guard.

And round their hearth, that night, they told
To one who shelter craved,
How the brave dog, he thought so old,
Full forty lives had saved;

When, suddenly, with kindling eye,
Up sprang the old dog there,
As from afar a child’s shrill cry
Rung through the frosty air.

In haste the monks unbarred the door,
Rugs round the mastiffs threw;
And as they bounded forth once more,
Called, “Blessings be with you!”


They hurried headlong down the hill,
Past many a snow-wreath wild,
Until the older guide stood still
Beside a sleeping child.

He licked the little icy hand
With his rough, kindly tongue;
With his warm breath he gently fanned
The tresses fair and long.

The child looked up, with eyes of blue,
As if the whole he guessed;
His arms around the dog he threw,
And sunk again to rest.

Once more he woke, and wrapped him fast
In the warm covering sent;
The dogs then with their charge, at last,
Up the steep mountain went.


The fire glowed bright with heaped-up logs,
Each monk brought forth a light;
“Good dogs!” they cried, “good dogs, good dogs!
Whom bring you here to-night?”

In, with a joyous bound, they come—
The boy awoke and smiled:
“Ah me!” the stranger cried, “some home
Mourneth for thee, fair child!”

With morning light, the monks and boy
Sought where the village lay—
I dare not try to paint the joy
Their coming gave that day.

“If sweet,” the brethren said, “to see
Such gladness shed around,
What wondrous joy in Heaven must be,
When a lost child is found!”

[The end]
Anonymous's short story: Dog of St. Bernard