Friday, December 23, 2016
Affectionate Sagacity in Dogs, 1825 Article
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The hospitality of the convent of St. Bernard, and the unwearied humanity of the monks, on every occasion that can possibly call for its exercise, have long been proverbial, and numerous instances occur every season, of persons saved by their interference, or relieved by their bounty. In the year 1818 alone, the meals furnished to travellers by this convent amounted to no fewer than 31,078.
An enterprising English party, consisting of men and women, took shelter in the convent of St. Bernard during a fall of snow. The monks fed them and their horses as long as they could, giving up their bread to the beasts, when they had no more crude grain to bestow on them. The guests had then no other alternative but that of departing, but how were they to get their horses over the snow, which was yet too soft to support them? The ingenuity and activity of the monks found an expedient. They turned out with their servants, and placing blankets before the animals, which were carried forward and extended afresh, as soon as passed over, conducted men, women, and beasts in safety over their mountain.
The breed of dogs kept by the monks to assist them in their labours of love, has been long celebrated for its fidelity and sagacity. All the oldest and most tried of them were lately buried, along with some unfortunate travellers, under an avalanche; but three or four hopeful puppies were left at home in the convent, and still survive. The most celebrated of those who are no more, was a dog called Barry. This animal served the hospital for the space of twelve years, during which time he saved the lives of forty individuals. His zeal was indefatigable. Whenever the mountain was enveloped in fogs and snow, he set out in search of lost travellers. He was accustomed to run barking until he lost breath, and would frequently venture on the most perilous places. When he found his strength was insufficient to draw from the snow a traveller benumbed with cold, he would run back to the hospital in search of the monks.
One day, this interesting animal found a child in a frozen state, between the bridge of Dronaz and the ice-house of Balsora: be immediately began to lick him; and having succeeded in restoring animation, by means of his caresses, he induced the child to tie himself round his body. In this way he carried the poor little creature, as if in triumph, to the hospital. When old age deprived him of strength, the prior of the convent pensioned him at Berney, by way of reward. After his death, his hide was stuffed and deposited in the museum of that town. The little phial, in which he carried a reviving liquor for the distressed travellers whom he found among the mountains, is still suspended from his neck.