The Dog Who Saved 40 Lives
In the Swiss Alps, at the St. Bernard Hospice, the huge St. Bernards are not used much anymore to rescue travelers lost in the snow. People don’t travel on foot now, and if anyone gets lost, helicopters come to the rescue.
The most famous of the St. Bernards of the past was named Barry. Early in the 1800s, Barry was the wonder dog of the rescue corps which set out daily from the hospice. Early in the morning, he would trot away, eagerly looking for people who had come to grief in snowdrifts or avalanches. He carried no keg of brandy around his neck, that is only legend.
After he died in 1814, Barry was stuffed and put on display. A magazine of the time reported, “For 12 years he worked and gave faithful service to the unfortunate. He saved the lives of more than 40 persons, showing an extraordinary zeal. He never had to be urged to work. If he felt a man was in danger somewhere, he ran immediately to his aid, and if he could do nothing, he returned to the convent and sought help through his barking and attitude.”
The Porpoise Pilot
French Pass, a dangerous water passage through the D’Urville Islands and off the coast of New Zealand, extends from Pelorus Sound to Tasman Bay. It is a shortcut for sailors, but a risky one, with deceptive currents and jagged underwater rocks.
Back on a stormy morning in 1871, the schooner Brindle, out of Boston bound for Sydney, approached the passage. A blue-gray porpoise began jumping up in front of the ship, as though it were bidding it welcome. Some of the sailors thought it was a young whale calf and wanted to kill it. The captain’s wife talked them out of it.
The porpoise seemed to be leading the way through the channel and the ship followed it, through deep water all the way, to arrive safely on the other side. From then on, the porpoise, nicknamed Pelorus Jack, would meet and pilot every ship that came through, every ship, that is, but one. In 1903, a drunken passenger on the Penguin hit Jack with a bullet. Though the crew wanted to lynch the passenger, the damage was done. Jack didn’t show up for 2 weeks, but then came back, apparently no worse for the experience.
However, after that he would never accompany the Penguin again. In 1909, the Penguin, long considered a jinxed ship, was wrecked in the passage with great loss of life. In April, 1912, Jack vanished, never to be seen again.
The Loyal Japanese Puppy
Hachi went to a Tokyo railroad station to see his master off for work, as usual, one day in 1925. That evening, at 5 o’clock, he went to meet the train his master always came home on. But that night his master wasn’t on it. The puppy had no way of knowing that his master had died in the city.
Never giving up hope, Hachi went to the railroad station every day for the next 10 years – the rest of his life – and waited for the 5 o’clock train. Then, when his master didn’t appear, he went sadly home. The people of Japan loved the little dog. When he died, the Government put up a statue of Hachi on the spot where he had waited and sent small replicas to all the schools in the Empire.
Happy English learning!!