New Orleans cemetery

There are few cities with as great a reputation for decadence as New Orleans. If you want rich, fatty, and extravagant foods, you can hardly do better than the Crescent City. Alcohol flows freely, too, and almost any desire of the flesh can be indulged for a modest fee (sometimes payable in cheap plastic beads). But decadence in the original, non-metaphorical sense is also a regular fixture in this city whose past is littered with pirates, devastating fires, and horrific murders. There has been a lot of death and destruction in New Orleans, and the associated signs of physical decay—whether of buildings or of bodies—are everywhere. Particularly striking to many visitors are the city’s numerous old cemeteries filled with creepy-looking aboveground tombs. Whereas death is usually kept hidden, buried out of sight, New Orleans gives residents and visitors constant reminders of the impermanence of life.

The Dead Shall Rise Again
Why aren’t the dead in New Orleans buried underground as they are in most of the rest of the country? Tour guides are fond of explaining (and sometimes embellishing) the practice to shocked tourists. The main issue, they explain, is that New Orleans is actually located slightly below sea level. Because of this, the water table is quite high. When early European settlers put coffins under six feet of earth, they found that the water level would often rise above them, especially during the city’s frequent floods. Since the coffins were filled with air, the water sometimes pushed them up through the earth, causing both a gruesome sight and a health hazard. To keep the coffins underground, holes were drilled in the lid to let air escape, and the coffins were weighted down with rocks and sand. But this was only partially successful, and in any case the saturated corpses did not decompose properly, leading to unsanitary conditions. The only solution was to bury the dead above ground.

Tour guides seldom mention that above-ground burial was a common practice in both France and Spain, where many of the early settlers were from. Even without the resurfacing coffins—which, by the way, were the exception rather than the rule—this practice may well have been adopted simply to keep with tradition. In any case, this method is still widely used today, even though the water table has dropped considerably over the past two centuries as nearby marshes and swamps were drained.

A Bone in the Oven
The first cemetery in New Orleans designed for aboveground burial was the St. Louis #1 cemetery, which opened in 1789. Some accounts claim it was modeled after Paris’s famous Père-Lachaise cemetery, and there can be no doubt that the two bear a strong resemblance to each other. But Père-Lachaise wasn’t used as a cemetery until 1804, so that resemblance may be coincidental. Be that as it may, there is a significant difference that goes beyond the superficial similarities. At Père-Lachaise, the visible structures are, for the most part, just monuments; the bodies themselves are usually placed in vaults in the floors of the tombs. In New Orleans, however, bodies are usually placed inside the walls of the tombs. Because of the hot, subtropical climate, the tomb then effectively becomes an oven, and the high heat causes the body to decompose rapidly in a process that has been compared to a slow cremation. Within about a year, only bones are left.

Just as an oven would not be constructed to bake a single loaf of bread, the tombs in New Orleans cemeteries are used again and again. The specifics vary depending on the exact design of the tomb, but a typical scenario is that after a year, the bones of the departed are swept into an opening in the floor of the tomb, which is then ready for its next occupant. It is a common practice to bury all the members of a family—or multiple families—in the same tomb, with names and dates added to a plaque or headstone as necessary. This procedure is not only sanitary and efficient; it also avoids the problem of growing real estate needs as time goes on.

No Walk in the Park
St. Louis #1 (there are, by the way, a #2 and #3 as well) is the oldest and most famous of about 15 aboveground cemeteries in and around New Orleans. Just as Jim Morrison’s grave attracts visitors to Père-Lachaise, St. Louis #1 has its own star: Marie Laveau, the Voodoo queen. Or, I should say, it has a tomb that many people believe contains her remains—no one is quite sure. But this uncertainty doesn’t stop legions of admirers from leaving offerings and marking the tomb with X’s in a supposed Voodoo ritual that is in fact apocryphal. This is just one of the cemetery sites associated with Voodoo practices—some genuine, some not.

While you may not encounter any ghosts or Voodoo rituals in the cemeteries of New Orleans, you are very likely to encounter thieves, drug dealers, and other ne’er-do-wells. Every single brochure, visitor’s guide, and concierge will warn you, repeatedly and in the strongest possible terms, not to enter the cemeteries alone or at night. Some careless tourists have unwittingly become permanent residents—enough said. That’s not to say you can’t safely visit the cemeteries, just go in a group with a tour guide, during daylight hours.

The cemeteries of New Orleans are often called “cities of the dead.” Not only do the tombs look like buildings, but the cemeteries are organized with streets (and street signs) much like the cities of the living. And it seems somehow appropriate that in New Orleans the decay of death faintly mirrors the decadence of life. That continuity between this life and the next is strangely comforting. —Joe Kissell

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More Information about New Orleans Cemeteries…

For more information about the cemeteries of New Orleans, read City of the Dead: A Journey Through St. Louis Cemetery by Robert Florence. There are also plenty of good Web sites about the cemeteries, such as:

Lots of tour companies offer (safe) guided tours of the cemeteries. See, for example, Haunted History Tours or Before visiting one of the cemeteries, you might want to check out the New Orleans Police Department’s Tips for Visiting Our Cemeteries.

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I have watched a number of reality TV shows on which contestants were asked to consume extremely unappetizing foods. You know the sort of thing I’m talking about, I’m sure, so I’ll refrain from elaborating. Under circumstances of sufficient duress or social pressure, I’ll uncomplainingly choke down just about anything, however unpleasant it may be. But there are a few foods that I would find it difficult to get past my uvula no matter how many viewers at home were cheering me on or how many dollars were at stake. I am thinking, for example, of okra.

Slime Me
In the United States, okra is known as a staple of southern cuisine, and rarely seen elsewhere. A member of the hibiscus family, okra is a tall plant with yellow flowers and edible seed pods. If you look up okra in a dictionary, the one word that will invariably be used to describe the texture of these seed pods is mucilaginous. This word means “glue-like”—that is, viscous, sticky, and slimy. These are acceptable characteristics for adhesives, but not the sort of thing that feels good on my tongue.

Having said that, I must now confess that I have personally, voluntarily cooked with okra, and enjoyed the results tremendously. That’s because context is everything. The one dish in which okra is not only unobjectionable but mandatory is gumbo. I first tasted gumbo several years ago on a trip to New Orleans. I decided to brave it, even knowing it contained okra, because it seemed like one of those quintessential Louisiana experiences everyone should have. I absolutely loved it. The surprising thing was that I could not detect any hint of that mucilaginous texture. When I later made my own gumbo, I figured out why.

Okra is OK
Gumbo is a hearty soup that is one of the cornerstones of Cajun cuisine in Louisiana. There are countless recipes and variations, but it invariably consists of a thick broth served in a bowl over a mound of rice. Some gumbo is made with chicken and andouille sausage; some is made with seafood; some is made with whatever meat happens to be handy. (Purists generally scoff at the notion of vegetarian gumbo.) Gumbo usually starts with a roux (a browned mixture of flour and oil or butter) along with diced, sautéed pepper, onion, and celery. Then a stock is added along with the meat and sliced okra; the resulting mixture is simmered for several hours before serving.

When the okra is heated, its mucilaginous fibers begins to dissolve, and serve as a thickening agent for the soup. Depending on how fresh the okra was when you put it in, how small the slices were, and how long you cook it, there may be no visible remains of the okra at all by the time it’s served. If whole pieces remain, they are quite soft but not even slightly slimy—entirely edible. So the very quality that makes whole okra yucky turns out to be essential to making gumbo yummy.

There are gumbo recipes that omit okra, but they miss the point. For one thing, the word gumbo is derived from the Bantu word kingumbo, which means “okra.” In other words, gumbo without okra is sort of like oatmeal without oats. For another thing, okraless gumbo just doesn’t taste right. The usual alternative thickening agent is filé, a powder made from dried sassafras leaves. Filé becomes gummy when it’s boiled, so it can’t simmer into the soup. It has to be added just before serving, or sprinkled on at the table. There’s nothing wrong with a filé-thickened soup, but it shouldn’t be called gumbo. —Joe Kissell

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More Information about Gumbo…

You can read sample definitions of okra (containing the word “mucilaginous”) at or Hyperdictionary; there’s also one without in the Wikipedia (though the word does appear later on the page in the discussion of how to cook okra).

There are 3.7 bajillion recipes for gumbo on the Web, and when I make it myself, I combine elements from a few different recipes rather than following just one. So I can’t tell you how to make my gumbo, but here are a few reasonable recipes to get you started:

Also see the Wikipedia article on gumbo.

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Guest Article by Rajagopal Sukumar

A damselfish

On a recent trip to the Galapagos Islands, I was astonished when our guide showed us how damselfish (family Pomacentridae) farm algae on their own. It was also amazing to see how aggressively protective they were of their farms. To demonstrate, our guide took a sea urchin and dropped it into the damselfish’s algae farm, and within seconds the damselfish pushed the sea urchin out of the farm. Some damselfish farm algae on coral heads and nip the coral to create cuts that encourage the algae to grow. Apparently, they are known even to attack human beings that swim near their farms. Fortunately, they are very small fish with small teeth, so death by damselfish is unlikely!

The damselfish inspired me to learn about other animals that farm their own food. It turns out that besides humans, four kinds of animal are known to farm fungi (fungiculture)—leaf cutter ants, termites, ambrosia beetles, and marsh snails.

We humans capitalized on the invention of agriculture to place ourselves on the path to achieve a dominating position in our ecosystem. It is our gregarious nature, societal structure, communication skills, and a measure of engineering skills that were key. Let’s examine how non-human farmers stack up in these areas.

Society & Organization
All three of the insect farmers have very well organized societal structures that in all likelihood developed before they learned fungiculture. They have built complex societal structures with task specialization that would put a Henry Ford or a Frederick Taylor to shame. This has also allowed these insects to sustain very large populations—colonies of leaf cutter ants (previously discussed on Interesting Thing of the Day) are known to have tens of millions of ants.

Leaf cutter ants belong to a group of ants called “attines”—the genus Atta. Attines are notorious for their ability to deforest vast tracts of land in a matter of days. All the ants in the leaf cutter ant community are specialists—the queens that are the breeders and also start the farming area called nests, ants that specialize in cutting the leaves from the trees, ants that specialize in reducing the leaves to a mulch, and ants that specialize in harvesting the fungi. There are also garbage worker ants that help manage the waste in garbage chambers that are kept isolated from the nest. Since there is a risk of contamination if these garbage worker ants mingle with the rest of the ants, these garbage workers cannot leave the garbage chambers. Scientists have observed that if these garbage worker ants go to the main part of the nest, they are forced to return to the garbage chambers or even killed by the other worker ants. There are 210 species within 12 genera of attines that are farmers. Ants have developed at least 553 strains of farmable fungi belonging to seven different genera.

Ambrosia beetles (order Coleptera) are a type of bark beetle. In the ambrosia beetle community, the females create farming areas inside the trees called galleries where they lay the eggs; the males do the rest of the work. The beetles cultivate a fungus called “ambrosia” that serves as food for both the adults and newly hatched larvae. The fungi cultivated by the ambrosia beetles are not pathogens, but the tunneling itself can kill trees. The fungi carried by other closely related bark beetles, however, can be deadly to plants all by itself. About 3,400 species of farming beetle are known.

About 330 species of termites farm fungi. Fungus-cultivating termites are found in tropical Africa and Asia. Termite colonies consist mainly of worker types, which work to feed the other colony members. There are also soldier types to fight predators and the queen, which reproduces. Similar to ambrosia beetles, they are monoculturists, as they farm only one type of fungus—which in the case of termites is Termitomyces (Termite Fungus).

It was only recently that marsh snails (Littoraria irrorata) were added to the list of animal farmers; they are also the first in the marine world known to be fungiculturists. Marsh snails live in salt marshes and their main food is a fungus that grows on cordgrass leaves. Similar to the damselfish, they cut the cordgrass leaves to create wounds, and lay their excrement into the wounds. The excrement contains the fungal spores (like seeds) and also the nutrients for the fungus to flourish in. Although in snail colonies as many as 1,000 snails per square meter can be found, snails are non-social. Therefore, complex societal structures are not a requirement for farming.

Engineering & Communication Skills
The insect farmers use specialized chemicals called pheromones to communicate amongst themselves; this communication is essential to forming complex societal structures. Leaf cutters build nests as large as football fields. Termites build mounds that are true engineering marvels—some of them can be as high as 9 feet (3m) above ground. Scientists have documented the sophisticated methods termites use to regulate the environment inside these mounds. What is amazing is that the mound has an elaborate ventilation system that enables the internal area to have carbon dioxide and humidity levels that exceed that of the outside air. This ventilation system also helps maintain the temperature at an optimal level to allow the fungus to flourish. Ambrosia beetles bore tunnels deep into tree branches. As they bore, they push out the dust into small protrusions. The tunnels typically number in the hundreds and form large networks known as galleries.

The insect farmers also use a variety of techniques to weed out unwanted fungus from their farms. Interestingly, the leaf cutters use antibiotic-secreting bacteria of the group actinomycetes to weed out other unwanted fungus growing in the garden. What is amazing is that we derive many of our own antibiotics, such as streptomycin and tetramycin, from actinomycetes.

The parallels with human farmers do not end with agriculture. There are species of ants that herd aphids in much the same way humans herd cattle and live on the sugary excretions of the aphids.

Why do they farm?
Why these animals farm is a highly debated topic in the scientific community. In my opinion, these are likely to be highly evolved symbiotic relationships. Symbiosis—two or more organisms living together such that both are more successful within the partnership than they would have been if they were living on their own—originated as a survival method 400 million years ago in the form of lichens. Interestingly, one of the components of the symbiosis we know as lichens is a fungus and the other is algae. I would hypothesize that scientists may one day discover that some other species also practice fungiculture. —Rajagopal Sukumar

Guest author Rajagopal Sukumar lives in Chennai, India and serves as the Chief Knowledge Officer (CKO) of a software consulting company that specializes in the global delivery model. You can read his personal blog at

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After this article was published, a reader pointed out that spotted jellyfish also farm algae.

You can read a great deal more about animal farmers in general in The First Farmers by Susan Lumpkin and Stephanie Hsia on the Smithsonian National Zoological Park’s Zoogoer site or Fungi and Insect Symbiosis at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

For more about leaf cutter ants, see Leaf Cutter Ants by Joe Kissell on ITotD. The agricultural pathology of ant fungus gardens by Cameron R. Currie, Ulrich G. Mueller and David Malloch is also a must-read for this topic. This paper also gives an excellent set of references for further research. For more information on Pheromones, see Alphabet of the Ants by James W. Keefer.

Termites’ construction techniques are covered in Tribute to the termites by Gerald Marewo.

Additional information about ambrosia beetles can be found in Asian Ambrosia Beetle at Texas A&M, Bark Beetles Management Guidelines at the University of California, or Bark Beetles and Ambrosia Beetles at Canadian Biodiversity.

And to learn more about the marsh snail, see Salt marsh snails plow leaves, fertilize fungus by Susan Milius at Science News.

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The author with Buttercup, a three-toed sloth

There are times—quite a few of them, for better or worse—when I’m confronted with evidence that something I’ve believed (or assumed) to be the case for years is simply wrong. These occasions can be a source of embarrassment, such as the time a few years ago when a friend pointed out to me that I always misspelled the word “embarrassed.” Being someone who takes the use of language seriously, this came as quite a blow to me. Most of the time, however, I greet epiphanies of mistaken assumptions with equanimity, if not pleasure. I love to learn, and most learning requires a certain amount of unlearning.

I had several such experiences in rapid succession while visiting a wildlife sanctuary in Costa Rica. Aviarios del Caribe, located near Cahuita on the Caribbean coast, is a sloth rehabilitation center. Sloths that are injured or orphaned are brought here and cared for, and then—if they’re able to fend for themselves—released back into the rain forest. A volunteer had patiently explained many of the differences between two-toed and three-toed sloths, about which more later. But as I was watching a baby two-toed sloth, I noticed with some puzzlement that it actually had three toes on each foot. Clearly there was an interesting story here, but that was just the beginning of the strange and wonderful things I was to discover about sloths.

Digital Communication
First, let’s talk about those toes. Sloth expert Judy Arroyo explained to me that all sloths actually have three “toes”—that is, three digits on their hind limbs, if you want to think of them as feet. The difference is in the “fingers”—the digits on the fore limbs. Two-toed sloths have two; three-toed sloths have three. So why weren’t they called “two-fingered” and “three-fingered”? Apparently it was a problem of translation. According to Arroyo, the Spanish word used to describe the sloths’ digits can mean either finger or toe, and the English word choice turned out to be a bit misleading.

Whether you call them fingers or toes, sloths use them to great advantage. They’re hooked and very strong, which makes them handy for climbing or—more frequently—hanging upside-down for extended periods of time high in the trees. Sloths sleep up to 18 hours per day, and when awake, spend most of their time munching on leaves. They move (very slowly, of course) from tree to tree every day or two, and descend to the ground only about once a week to urinate and defecate.

Two-toed and three-toed sloths share many traits in common, but I was surprised to discover how many differences there were. The two-toed sloth (Choloepus hoffmani) has light brown fur and is nocturnal. The three-toed sloth (Bradypus variegatus) has, as its name suggests, variegated fur. It’s active during the day, so it’s the one you’re most likely to see on a rain forest hike. Males have distinctive markings on their backs that identify them uniquely, in much the same way as fingerprints. And the extra bones in the three-toed sloth’s neck enable it to turn its head almost 360°.

The Value of a Green Back
What I find most interesting about the three-toed sloth is the symbiotic relationship it has with other organisms. One effect of the sloth’s languid pace of life is that it can’t be bothered to groom itself. This turns out to be beneficial to several varieties of algae and mold that grow inside the sloth’s hollow hairs. The algae effectively turn the sloth green, giving it excellent camouflage among the leaves. The camouflage is crucial to the sloth’s survival, because its inability to move quickly makes it an easy target for the harpy eagle.

But the symbiosis doesn’t end there. The algae in the sloth’s fur provides food for a great many insects. (I should point out, incidentally, that sloths have extremely long fur, making them appear much larger than they really are.) Beetles have been found by the hundreds living on a single sloth. Another insect that calls the sloth home is a type of moth—Bradipodicola hahneli (or “sloth moth” to most people). The sloth’s fur provides both food and protection for the moth. Not only does it feed on the algae, but it also deposits its eggs in the sloth’s droppings, where they pupate and hatch, and then fly off to look for another sloth to live on.

For a Good Time, Call
Sloths are not known as particularly social creatures, but they do spend enough time with the opposite sex to reproduce. One of the studies underway at Aviarios del Caribe when I was there involved the mating habits of three-toed sloths. We saw a video in which a female sloth named Buttercup let out a blood-curdling mating call that sounded like a woman shrieking. Immediately, males from as far away as 700 meters began rushing toward the sound. By “rushing,” I mean crawling at the breakneck speed of about 200 meters per day. But for a sloth, this single-minded, deliberate movement—on the ground, no less, in plain view of predators—is definitely rushing. Ah, the things we do for love.

Females usually give birth once a year, and with gestation periods of about six months, that means they spend about half their adult lives pregnant. When a sloth reaches six months of age, it’s old enough to be left on its own. Before that time, however, if a youngster falls from a tree, the mother will not attempt to rescue it; the risk of attack by a bird or jaguar is too great.

Young sloths separated from their mothers in this way are the main wards of the sloth rehabilitation center I visited. Other residents were injured by contact with an electrical line, or orphaned when an eagle attacked the mother. Staff members and volunteers nurse the sloths back to health, and participate in a variety of scientific studies and conservation projects. Buttercup was the center’s first resident, and has been there for about 13 years. She serves as a living mascot, helping to promote awareness and research of her species.

Slow Is Beautiful
Sloths’ slow, graceful movements have been compared to those of a t’ai chi master. I agree with that assessment—and coincidentally it was for a t’ai chi retreat that I went to Costa Rica in the first place. But sloths have also been called “ugly,” and here I must disagree. Up close, sloths are actually quite cute, and the shape of their faces gives the impression of a permanent smile. In the wild, of course, the menagerie of plants and critters growing in the fur can be off-putting, but a well-groomed sloth is—and I’m speaking from experience here—downright cuddly.

Sloths share their name with one of the so-called “deadly sins” because their slow metabolism gives them the appearance of laziness. But slow and lazy are two different things. The grace, balance, and gentleness of the sloth—not to mention its hospitality toward the other creatures that depend on it—are traits I could aspire to emulate. —Joe Kissell

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More Information about The Hidden Lives of Sloths…

This article was featured in Carnival of the Animals No. 4.

If you’re ever in Costa Rica, Aviarios del Caribe is well worth a visit. Besides being a wildlife sanctuary, it’s also a bed & breakfast. Owners Judy and Luis Arroyo will tell you everything you want to know about sloths, and you can also take a canoe ride into the rain forest to see a wide variety of other wildlife. Janet Younger wrote this article for the Travelwise web site about her stay at Aviarios del Caribe; her experiences were very similar to my own.

Christopher Baker’s article Mammals on compares sloths to t’ai chi masters but claims they’re ugly. I beg to differ—I’ve met some very handsome sloths (and t’ai chi masters, for that matter).

The Sloth Club is an organization that promotes some positive sloth-like traits: slowness, simplicity, nonviolence, and ecological consciousness.

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In October 2004, I read an article with some shocking and disheartening news: the Swiss monks responsible for breeding St. Bernards since at least the 17th century were getting out of the dog business. The last 18 dogs living in the alpine hospice where the breed originated were up for sale. At that time, I didn’t know anything about St. Bernards except that they were known as rescue dogs and usually pictured wearing a little barrel or cask on their collars. It had not occurred to me that there was some particular base from which their rescue operations had traditionally begun, or an actual Saint Bernard after whom the dogs had been named. But as I read about the imminent end of the monks’ caretaking operations, I began wondering about the real story behind these dogs. Did they ever really perform rescues? How did the monks figure in? And what was the deal with those little casks? Glass of brandy in hand, I began my research.

Anyone for a Walk?
The story begins in the year 962, when Bernard of Menthon founded a monastery and hospice in the Swiss alps. To the north is the Swiss canton of Valais; to the south, the Valle d’Aosta in Italy. It was not for seclusion that Bernard chose this particular spot, at a snowy pass some 8,000 feet (2500m) high. The pass was often used by pilgrims making their way from France into Italy to visit Rome, and was known as a treacherous and forbidding spot. Bernard’s idea was that the hospice could provide shelter for the pilgrims and aid to those who became lost or injured on their journey.

By the time Bernard was canonized in 1681, the hospice he had founded centuries earlier had begun keeping dogs, which the monks found helpful in carrying out their rescue missions. Over many years, the monks bred a type of dog ideally suited to both the weather and rescue work—a huge, energetic, friendly, and faultlessly loyal breed related to the mastiff, with thick fur and keen senses of smell and hearing. And from the early 1700s, when the oldest surviving records were made, until the late 20th century, the dogs assisted in rescuing about 2,500 people. The dogs were first referred to informally as “St. Bernards” in 1833, and the name became official in 1880.

Dog Days
In the 1950s, however, helicopters appeared on the scene, and technology began increasingly to fill the dogs’ role. The last time a dog helped with a rescue was around 1975. In the years since then, the monks—who now number only four or five—have continued to raise the dogs. But St. Bernards are costly to feed and require a great deal of time to care for; the monks felt that since the dogs were no longer assisting them, their limited time and money would be better spent serving human beings. And so, in late 2004, the dogs were put up for sale.

Although from the monks’ perspective this was a reasonable and utilitarian decision, it prompted a tremendous public outcry. Those most vocally opposed to the change included local merchants, dependent as they are on the business of thousands of tourists who come to the area each summer only to see the famous dogs. In less than two months, the matter was resolved. A couple of Swiss philanthropists donated the equivalent of over US$4 million to buy the dogs, who will continue to spend their winters in a kennel in the nearby city of Martigny but will return to the hospice each summer. A museum honoring the dogs will also be built in Martigny and is scheduled to open in the spring of 2006.

As for the barrel on the collar, it first appeared in a painting by artist Edwin Landseer called “Alpine Mastiffs Reanimating a Distressed Traveler” in 1820; Landseer was only 17 at the time. The cask was thought to contain brandy and quickly caught on in the public imagination, though the monks and their dogs never actually used such a thing. (Alcohol, after all, could hasten dehydration—not a good treatment for a snowbound traveler.) Nowadays, that little barrel could prove more useful as a carrying case for a GPS receiver and a cell phone, giving the next generation of St. Bernards updated rescue capabilities more suitable to the modern age. And, if the helicopter is on its way anyhow, maybe a wee nip of brandy wouldn’t be so bad after all. —Joe Kissell

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More Information about Saint Bernards…

To read about the monks’ decision to sell the St. Bernards, see Monks seek homes for St Bernards at BBC News (October 8, 2004), Technology Puts St. Bernards Out of Work at RedNova News (October 11, 2004), or Switzerland’s Famous Saint Bernards for Sale at Deutsche Welle (October 30, 2004). Saint Bernard rescue dog gets rescued at MSNBC describes the donation that will fund their new home.

Just about everything you’d ever want to know about St. Bernards is included in the Saint Bernards Breed-FAQ for rec.pets.dogs. Other resources include About Saint Bernards at the Saint Bernard Club of America and The Saint Bernard History at Chandler’s Saint Bernards.

Read more about St. Bernard of Menthon in The Catholic Encyclopedia.

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