Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Barry, the legendary rescue dog

Image from Barry Museum
Barry was a St Bernard who died 200 years ago, but remains the most famous rescue dog in the world. He is a legend, surrounded by countless stories, and an exhibition at the Natural History Museum in Bern tells his story.

Barry was born in 1800 and lived at the famous hospice on the St. Bernard Pass. He was a legend even during his life time, and myths declare that he saved at least 40 people from certain death in the snow and bitter cold.

The hospice has been run since the 11th century, and sits 2,500 meters above sea level. The St. Bernard Pass was dangerous at the best of times and during the course of 200 years the dogs - along with the Augustine monks living at the hospice - saved over 2,000 people.

Today's search and rescue dogs are quite different from the dogs in Barry's time. The main role for these dogs was to find the way back home, regardless of weather. The thick blizzards would get a human lost within minutes.

Barry was clearly seen as an important dog even during his lifetime, because he spent his last years in retirement in Bern, and was preserved after his death. He can actually be seen at the exhibition about his life, and he serves an important task even this long after his death. Thanks to Barry, visitors can see how St Bernards used to look, and can see the difference from the breed today. If you want to learn more about that, visit the St Bernard page on PlexiDors.com.

Barry has also given name to a foundation in Switzerland called "Fondation Barry du Grand Saint Bernard." They are a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving St Bernard dogs, and keeping them at their point of origin on the Great St Bernard Pass. Their website is well worth a visit!

~ Maria Sadowski ~

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