I was told this story by my friend, Chico the Wonder Dog. He visits me from time to time from his small dogs lawn in Doggie Heaven. I think it's good enough to post here. Enjoy!
Sometimes we overlook things because they seem trivial to us. Sometimes we underestimate because of the smallness of things… I’ll explain.
This is a story that was told to my great-great grandfather many years ago. It was told as a true story by a man who was acquainted with a monk who was there and witnessed it for himself; at least he and others there concluded by the evidence that what I am about to tell you is the only way this could have happened. It wasn’t carried down through the years much because no one really cared to hear it except my family and me. It seemed a bit too strange but I know it's true,-and not at all unusual for my line.
In the high peaks of the Andes Mountain Range in South America was a temple. The temple was at thirteen thousand feet above sea level and was run and maintained by seven monks, men dedicated to God and his teachings.
Also at the temple was a huge Saint Bernard dog, a pet of the monks and a fearless animal whose bravery was responsible for saving the lives of at least three men who, over the years, had strayed off the familiar trail while they were hiking and each had become lost.
Also, but less noticed at the monastery, was a Mexican Chihuahua named Chico. Chico had been given to the Monks eleven years earlier at age one as thanks from the family of a man the monks had rescued from the icy mountain. Chico was a pure bred, pedigreed hairless Chihuahua and was a dog of integrity and faithfulness. He knew when he arrived at the monastery that this was his home from now to almost forever. (He had to leave the monastery briefly once to marry and produce an heir) He loved the Monks and they loved him.
The Saint Bernard, however, was a different story. The Saint Bernard, whom the monks called simply, Dog, resented Chico from the beginning and was often cross with him. But Chico took it in stride and put up with it just as a thoroughbred should.
Now, on one fateful day, a message came by carrier pigeon from the ranger station below that a man had hiked one of the favorite trails and was several days overdue. The message gave all the pertinent information and the monks began readying themselves for a search.
Their gear was assembled and stowed in backpacks. And, as they always did, they fitted the Saint Bernard with a keg of brandy. (I still to this day don’t know why the rescue dogs always carry brandy instead of Irish Whiskey)
When they were all finished packing, they said a silent prayer for the safety of the lost man and for themselves and their rescue dog, Dog.
They put down extra food and water for Chico in case they should be gone for several days. Then they said goodbye to Chico and departed.
They traveled their familiar route, places where a man could stray off the trail and become lost and, after a full day or fruitless searching, they made camp. They had been going a day and half a night and welcomed the respite. Dog needed rest, too.
During the night, fresh snow began falling and by morning, it was coming down very heavily. Then the wind started blowing and a white out occurred.
The men didn’t worry much about that; they had had to put up with blowing snow many times and hadn’t ever lost their bearings.
They decided to split up, three men and Dog going one way and the other four men, the other way. They agreed that after two more days at most, they would return to the monastery.
The weather got worse but the monks persevered and finally the group of four men found the lost hiker snuggled inside a thick sleeping bag, cold and hungry but in good health. They immediately thanked God for their good fortune and headed back to the monastery.
Two more days passed and they began to wonder about the lateness of the other search party, the three monks and Dog. Then, early the next morning, the three monks arrived back at the monastery, but without Dog.
They said, as they were climbing a narrow part of the trail, Dog had wandered too far toward the edge and the snow gave way and he had fallen far down into the canyon. They heard him yelp on the way down but never heard him again. They looked for a way down to rescue him but, after a full day of searching, finally had to give up. There was no way through the snow to where he had fallen. They sadly accepted what seemed to be the fate of their faithful rescue dog.
Later that day, the rangers came up and got the hiker and returned him to his family. They thanked the monks and offered condolences for the loss of Dog.
Another day passed and the storm continued raging. This was the longest a snowstorm of this magnitude had lasted in a good many years.
Then a day later, Chico’s ears perked up and he looked toward the outside. He jumped up and ran to the front door. The monks watched him and wondered if he had heard some sound, maybe Dog whining outside. They all went outside and looked and listened but saw and heard nothing. Chico would not stop his fussing, running to the door then back again.
Then he went to his dish and ate all of his food and drank all his water then went to one of the monks, the one charged with feeding him, and begged for more. The monk thought this was strange but he put out more food and as much water as he was sure the small dog could drink.
Chico ate his food and drank all of his water then ran to the front door and began to howl softly. The monk called the others over and they wondered aloud what could be the matter with the small dog; was he missing Dog so much that it made him act strangely?
The monks decided to look again outside, at least as far as they could go in the heavily falling snow. The monk in charge of Chico decided to put a sweater on Chico so he wouldn’t get too cold.
When they opened the door, Chico bolted outside and began running as fast as he could away from the monastery and up the hill. He didn’t go up the well-used trail. Instead he veered off to the left toward a very rugged part of the mountain. The monks tried to stop him but they couldn’t catch him and in a second, Chico was out of sight.
Chico very faintly heard a dog sound; actually he felt it more than heard it. He wondered if he could do what he had in mind. If only he was in time and could hold up in this vicious storm. He went at top speed until he passed a place where the terrain dropped very quickly and for a long way down. Then he slowed to a more manageable pace and watched and listened intently.
Chico had been walking for over an hour and he began to feel the cold. It hadn’t occurred to him that he might not be able to finish this. He knew the sweater helped tremendously and was very glad he had it on.
He walked on for two more hours and was now over a mile from the monastery and the cold was beginning to get to him. He started to feel weak in his legs and his pads hurt from the cold. Chico knew there was a chance he had made a mistake about hearing Dog, but he didn’t think so. He knew now that it wasn’t a sound he had heard; this was much too far for any sound to carry. It had been a feeling. He knew he wasn’t wrong. Now he would find out if he could do what he knew he must do.
Chico began slowing down. The cold was starting to get to him. He knew that he had come so far now that he could never get back on his own. He stopped and looked around and listened. He was feeling weak now but he was determined to finish what he had started; if he could.
He sat down in the snow, just by a tree trunk where the wind wasn’t blowing so strongly. He was beginning to feel sleepy and, all of a sudden, he wasn’t as cold as he had been. Strange. His ears began to ring slightly and his eyes started to glaze over. He wasn’t aware of things like, hypothermia and such. He did, however, wonder why, now all of a sudden, he began to feel better and warmer. Strange.
He thought if he could just close his eyes for a moment, he’d see better and be some rested.
Chico didn’t know how long his eyes had been closed but he felt something warm and wet rubbing against his face. He heard a faint whimper. It almost sounded like Dog. He opened his eyes and saw the Saint Bernard lying right beside him and gently licking his face. He looked at Dog and knew the Saint Bernard was very weak,-probably from hunger. He knew that if the bigger dog had food, he would be revived and could probably make it back to the monastery. Chico might not be able to make it back but the rescue dog would be saved.
He knew what he had to do. He rose up on his front legs right at Dog’s face and began to gag himself. He gagged violently until he regurgitated all the food and water he had in his stomach. Dog immediately began eating the regurgitation. As he ate, strength flooded back into his body. He was warmed and all of a sudden he knew he could follow the small dog’s trail and make it back to the monastery. If it’s possible for a dog to do, he thanked God for Chico. Chico lay limp on the snow, unable to move.
Later in the day, the monks heard barking at the front door. They rushed to open it and saw Dog standing there, very tired but in good condition. In his mouth, held very gently, limp and weak, but very alive, was my Great, Great, Great Grandfather, the first Chico the Wonder Dog!
…And we lived happily ever after!