Dog, “man´s best friend” (sorry, cats!), those quadruped furry balls that have earned our love and trust. They are lovely, loyal and loving, but some of them go beyond that, and even help us to catch the baddies or save lives.
Talking of the latter, there are several breeds that are outstanding, and in mountain rescue, Saint Bernard´s breed is one of the most representative. That´s why when in Vojo we decided to introduce an assistant that could be available 24/7 all year round to help the users of our app Vojo, we did not hesitate to choose it. But why is it called Barry? Where does the name Saint Bernard originate from? Get to know all the quirks of this noble breed reading our post!
A quick note before I continue: the little barrel full of brandy associated with this dog is an image that became popular in the nineteenth century by the painting by Edwin Henry Landseer “Alpine Mastiffs reanimating a distressed traveller”, he became popular for his sentimental depictions of animals. Nevertheless, this was only an artistic licence, given that these dogs never carried such peculiar objects around their necks (it seems to suit them though).
It originated in the Swiss and Italian Alps, Saint Bernard is a dog traditionally used to keep cattle (drover dog). Its extinct relative is the ancient Alpine Mastiff, its genealogy was documented for the first time in 1867, and it was recognised officially as a breed in 1887. Nevertheless, and although there is no evidence to this day, it is common to find studies that affirm that it comes from the east of Greece at the times of Charlemagne. It is more or less admitted that the origin of the mastiff is an ancient relative that the Romans used in battle and introduced them to Helvetia (Roman name for Switzerland) during the first and second century. With time and several inter-breedings later, the Saint Bernard that we know today became what it is now.
But, where does the name come from? To explain this we need to go back to the tenth century and find there Bernard of Menthon (after his canonisation known as Saint Bernard). He was the Archdeacon of Aosta, a town near the Alps in north Italy, one of the stops within millenary Vía Francígena, a pilgrimage route that links the cities of Canterbury and Rome across the Alps. At the top of the Alps, where this route goes, Bernard decided to found a hospice where to offer shelter to travellers and pilgrims. According to a historic document from 1660, Bernard was the first one to introduce this breed in the hospice as a guardian and rescue dog.
Once upon a time, there was a Saint Bernard dog that stood out from the rest. Barry der Menschenretter, known popularly as Barry, was a working dog in the hospice on the Alps at the beginning of the nineteenth century, he saved more than 20 people. During a rescue, the rescatee mistook him for a wolf and stabbed him. Although Barry survived, he was badly injured and could not continue his work as a rescue dog, he retired to Bern, where he spent his last two years. He became so famous that his body was preserved and can still be visited at the Natural History Museum in Bern, and while the hospice was open for the remaining of its time, there was always a rescued dog, a Saint Bernard that was always named Barry after the original one. This is the reason behind why in Vojo, we decided to name this name.
The users of our application Vojo Way can just type Barry at any moment, and with a easy chat system can get in touch with him. Access your personal profile, click on the Barry´s image and ask your question about our app, the routes, hiking, El Camino de Santiago, or any pertaining questions. Barry would be glad to answer, as would be his human friends. Barry has already helped dozens of people!
That´s all for today. I hope you enjoyed the post, in which case I ask you to share it, and please follow Vojo in Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. See you soon! ¡Woof, woof!
Illustrations: Sergio de Arriba.
Translation: Elvira Sánchez.