If you travel to Switzerland it is very possible that you expect to find a Saint Bernard with one of those barrels of Brandi hanging from the neck. Sorry to disappoint you: the barrel is as false as the existence of Heidi.
Contemplating in front of a San Bernardo is like taking a jug of lime. It is impossible not to be contaminated by the pachorra that all its movements (or their absence) give off. His gaze (when he wants to keep his eyelids open) is so absent and devoid of emotion that one may think that, in the face of a terrorist attack, that dog would remain unperturbed. Like who hears the rain.
Popularly, it has always been believed that these cute and adorable-looking dogs carry brandy barrels around their necks in order to save travelers who have lost themselves in the snow. The truth is that the San Bernardo do not carry any kite around the neck.
And much less brandy or any other alcohol: alcohol is the worst solution to fight hypothermia because while it is true that you can feel the heat in the throat when swallowing it, alcohol is a vasodilator, so it produces cold in the body, And not heat.
What San Bernardo dogs do is to be trained as rescue dogs , since their bodies of more than 100 kilograms and their broad chest allow them to make their way in the snow, while they use a good sense of orientation to find the I walk back home even in the middle of the storm and the strongest blizzard.
Before this happened, they were used by the monks of the convent of the Gran San Bernardo pass (the alpine route that connects Switzerland with Italy) to transport food, since their large size and docile character made them excellent pack animals.
The person responsible for all of us imagine a St. Bernard dog with a brandy barrel around his neck was a young English artist named Edwin Landseer (1802-1873), famous for his landscape and animal paintings, especially for The Monarch of the Glen. In 1831 he painted a scene entitled Alpine Mastiffs resuscitating a traveler in distress, in which two San Bernardo appear, one of whom carries a barrel of miniature Brandi tied around his neck.
Landseer added that barrel exclusively as a decorative element, but no one could avoid associating those barrels with Alpine mastiffs (the name most used before for this kind of dog: the name of San Bernardo was also popularized by the artist of maras).
One of the first St. Bernard who saved lives was Barry the Great: he rescued 40 people between 1800 and 1814. When he went to rescue person 41 it turned out that he was not a person but a wolf, a wolf that killed him. Barry (which means “bear” in Bernese dialect) was embalmed and currently occupies a place of honor at the Bern Natural History Museum. In addition, the best puppy of each litter that is born in the Hospice of San Bernardo receives its name.
It is estimated that the San Bernardo has carried out more than 2,500 bailouts since 1800. But in the last 40 years, there has been none: the monastery has decided to sell the dogs and replace them with helicopters, which are not so adorable but they are certainly much more effective. And no, neither do helicopters carry brandy barrels.