Friday, February 8, 2013

Animals in Switzerland


There are many animals that live in Switzerland- deer, marmots, beavers and Wild Ibex, but when I think of Switzerland one animal comes to mind - the St. Bernard!

Descended from the Swiss Mountain dog, or Sennenhund, the St. Bernard was a dog bred and used for rescuing stranded travellers in the Swiss Alps.  These huge dogs can weigh up to 250 pounds and are very strong and intelligent.  The classic St. Bernard has changed over the years, when many of them were killed during some particularly hard winters and those that remained were bred with the Newfoundland breed.  That breeding gave the St. Bernard a furrier coat which froze more easily in the deep snow.  They no longer are used for rescue but are still a popular dog- a big, huge, loveable,DROOLY dog!

FYI- The name St. Bernard came from the traveler's hospice where they were first used, Great St. Bernard Hospice, which is, coincidentally, located on St. Bernard's Pass in the Western Alps.  And they never had casks of Brandy around their necks!

Barry the Bravest St. Bernard
One of the most famous St. Bernard's in Switzerland was Barry.  He was reported to have saved between 40 - 100 lives, including a small boy who he persuaded to climb onto his back and brought to safety.  He has been honored with statues, had books written about him,and his body is preserved at the Natural History Museum in Bern.

We are watching a movie about a different St. Bernard tonight.  No, not Cujo , that movie scared the bejezzus out of me!  We're watching Beethoven.  I haven't seen it for years (decades?) but I remember it being a fun movie that I'm sure the kids will get a kick out of !! Seriously, who doesn't love a big ol' drooly dog??

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