Bass, the Great Saint Bernard Dog

by W. H. G. Kingston

Sir Thomas Dick Lauder had a dog named Bass, brought when a puppy from the Great Saint Bernard. His bark was tremendous, and might be distinguished nearly a mile off.

He was once stolen, when a letter-carrier, well acquainted with him, heard his bark from the inside of a yard, and insisted on the man who had him in possession delivering him up.

Terrific as was his bark, he was so good-natured that he would never fight other dogs; and even allowed a little King Charles spaniel named Raith to run off with any bone he might have been gnawing, and to tyrannise over him in a variety of ways. If attacked by an inferior enemy, he would throw his immense bulk down upon his antagonist and nearly smother him, without attempting to bite.

He took a particular fancy for one of the Edinburgh postmen, whose duty it was, besides delivering letters, to carry a letter-bag from one receiving-house to another. This bag he used to give Bass to carry. The dog accompanied him on his rounds, but invariably parted with him opposite the gate of the Convent of Saint Margaret, and returned home.

On one occasion the postman, being ill, sent another man in his place. Bass went up to the stranger, who naturally retired before so formidable-looking a dog. Bass followed, showing a determination to have the post-bag. The man did all he could to keep possession of it; but at length Bass, seeing that it was not likely to be given to him, raised himself on his hind-legs, and putting a great fore-paw on each of the man’s shoulders, laid him flat on his back in the road, then quietly picking up the bag, proceeded peaceably on his wonted way. The man followed, ineffectually attempting to coax the dog to give up the bag. At the first house at which he arrived, the people comforted him by telling him that the dog always carried the bag. Bass walked with the man to all the houses at which he delivered letters, and along the road, till he came to the gate of Saint Margaret’s, where he dropped the bag and returned home.

Accounts exist of the services rendered by these noble dogs of Saint Bernard in saving life among the snowy regions of the Alps. It is recounted that one of these dogs preserved twenty-two lives. He at length lost his own in an avalanche, when those he was endeavouring to assist also perished.