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Rescue Dog of the High Pass

Jim Kjelgaard

Book Overview: 

Jim Kjelgaard has long wanted to tell the story of the gallant dogs who have gone out with the monks of St. Bernard Hospice to rescue travelers lost in the deep snows of the Swiss mountain passes. Unable to find the facts, he decided to reconstruct the tale as he feels it might have been. The result is this very moving story of a simple mountain boy and his devoted dog. Franz Halle felt he was worthless because he could not manage book learning, but his schoolmaster and the village pastor knew that the boy had a priceless knowledge all his own. The kindly priest secured work for Franz at near-by St. Bernard Hospice, helping a gentle giant of a man who made it possible for him to keep his beloved Alpine mastiff, Caesar, although the huge animal refused to earn his keep, even by turning the spit. When the scarcity of food forced Caesar's reluctant banishment, Franz—who had joined the monks in their daily patrol of the dangerous passes—proved that where even he, with all his rare knowledge of the ways of the blizzards, might fail, a dog could detect a man buried under an avalanche! So Franz and his brave helper initiated the rescue work of the St. Bernard dogs that was to become famous throughout the world.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .Franz became almost wholly at peace. The school seemed very far away, part of a different world. This, and this alone, was real. It seemed to Franz that he always heard music, with never a jarring or discordant note, whenever he was in the forest or climbing the mountains.[31]

[32] From the topmost eminence of Little Sister, he had viewed a breath-taking array of other peaks

[33] Presently he reached another downsloping gulley and halted on its near rim to look across. On the far rim was a farm that differed from the houses in Dornblatt because quarters for the people, a neat chalet, were separate from the building that housed the stock. It was the home of the Widow Geiser and had been the best farm anywhere around Dornblatt.

Then, three years ago, Jean Geiser had gone into the mountains to hunt chamois. He had never returned, and ever since the Widow Geiser had been hard put to make ends meet. Her two sons, aged four and six, were little he. . . Read More

Community Reviews

Enjoyable book about a boy and his dog in the Alps. The kids liked it, particularly as Hans and Caesar prove their usefulness.

A lovely story: the fictionalized account of how the St. Bernard Hospice, high in the Swiss Alps near a well-used pass, began using the great mastiff dogs to help in their rescue work of saving travelers lost in the snow and ice bound mountain heights.

Books written at the elementary school level. The descriptions of animal behaviour and the mountain landscape are evocative but the dialogue sounds like it was written by the learning disabled subject of the piece. Calling an eagle’s young a kid is a poor choice. The idea of the great mastiff Caesar

I enjoyed this story, especially the message that Franz wasn't worthless because he didn't have a head for book learning. It's so sad when society tries to push everyone into a mold and doesn't recognize their individual talents and gifts, and I was glad that Franz got to prove his worth to himself

I don't know how I missed this book in my childhood obsession with Kjelgaard! This was a simple but engaging story about a young boy who isn't very good at "book learning" and instead gets a job working at the monastery in St. Bernard's pass in the Alps. The boy's dog becomes a hero when he is able

Franz Halle felt he was a loser since he couldn't succeed in school. Then he was offered a job at the hospice on the St. Bernard Pass. It was his dream job! The only thing that worried was that his dog Ceaser wasn't earning his worth and would need to be sent back to his village. Then one day someon

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