If man's best friend is the dog, then his very best friend may be the Saint Bernard, one of many kinds of mastiff. Lafayette called them ""a symbol of the highest in animal nature."" This roving but charming account of the noble breed describes its beginnings and history, and traces its domestication by men. The narrative is enlivened--or occasionally encumbered--by insights about canines gleaned from literature, science, and archaeology: quotes from The Call of the Wild are one thing, the carbon 14 dating process is quite another. The author concludes with her visit to Great Saint Bernard Pass where the dogs are still bred and trained for rescue work--on a limited basis since the tragic attack of a St. Bernard pack on a little girl. St. Bernards are not usually equipped with brandy kegs but they do have a fascinating history.