A saint who rescued monks!
The incident occurred during the 17th century; while a group of monks were passing through the Saint Bernard pass (boundary between Switzerland and Italy) one of them slipped in to a deep gorge beside the path. When others could only scream and cry for help; a huge dog sprang as if from nowhere jumped in the gorge and dragged the inured old monk to the path. It was ‘Barry’ a Saint Bernard dog who saved the life of the monk. For Barry this was just one of the hundreds of lives he had saved from the hands of death, and for the St. Bernard breed Barry is just one of the thousands of its members engaged in the great job of rescuing lives. It is nothing strange the breed is known as ‘the rescue dog’.
Barry the great!
Even after four centuries passed by after his death; Barry’s name is still quoted with great affection in that part of the land. Due to the great service these Saint Bernard dogs do to human beings they are considered by their owners as invaluable possessions. ‘Barry’ was honored by the people of the locality by erecting a monument in the ‘Cemetiere des Chiens’ and his body is being preserved in the Natural History Museum in Berne; Switzerland. These dogs got their name as they were discovered by the monks from Saint Bernard area. These monks impressed by the courage and loyalty; the monks adopted them first and named them ‘Saint Bernard Dog’, later the breed became popular through out the world.
The big ones among dogs.
Saint Bernard is the largest breed of dog originally bred for rescue and for working purpose. A full grown male can weigh about 75 to 125kg .The heaviest and largest Saint Bernard known in history was ‘Benedictine’ which weighed about 162 kg. The standard height of Saint Bernard dog is about 28 to 34”.Two varieties are commonly seen; those which sport short hairs and those with long hairs.
Temperament (Very cool!)
As its name indicates it is gentle like a saint and very fond of children. It rarely attacks or barks against the strangers, but the sight of this giant animal is enough to sent shivers in the nerves of the intruders. Like any other breed Saint Bernard is very social and keeping it lonely for long time is cruel, such deeds can drive the poor animals crazy and they may turn violent. A Saint Bernard may not always follow the footprints of the owner but will always be watchful of the activities of the owner. It is a highly intelligent dog and easy to be trained. They have highly developed sense of smell and at times act like as they have a sixth sense to foresee impending disasters like cyclones and avalanches.
There are two types of coats found in Saint Bernard varieties when some are of smooth finish the others are rough. Both are very dense and come in white with markings in tan, mahogany, brindle, and black all found in various combinations. The feet are large with strong and well arched toes making them sure footed in the snow and ice.
- The Saint Bernard is a massive dog variety with a very fast body growth rate. Hence deficiency in calcium and other minerals can cripple a dog with rickets, hypo-dysplasia (developmental disorder), osteosarcoma (bone tumor) etc.
- Prone to eye disorders such as ectropion and entropion (deformity of eyelids, generally as age advances)
- Susceptible to epilepsy, heart disorders like dilated cardiomyopathy (chronic disease of heart muscles) and eczema.
- Saint Bernard Dogs are more prone to gastritis, so it is better to feed them with two or three small meals instead of a single heavy meal.
- It sheds its hairs twice a year especially during winter and cold seasons.
- Regular grooming is required to make the coat clean.
Diseases of the digestive system
1. Halitosis or foul breath
This condition is frequently occurred in dogs due to lack of oral hygiene as well as due to infection of teeth or gum. Halitosis may occur as a result of chronic indigestion, hepatic disorder and rhinitis (inflammation of the mucous membrane). A mouth-wash with hydrogen peroxide or any non toxic disinfectant is enough to ward it off.
Inflammation of the gastric mucosa may make the animal anorexic (without appetite) and gloomy. The reasons can be over feeding, indiscriminate feeding –foods which are not suited to dogs, intake of foreign bodies etc. Common symptoms are severe discomfort, abdominal pain, poor appetite, vomiting etc.
It is the inflammation of the intestinal mucous membrane. It is characterized by diarrhea, dehydration etc.
Inflammation of the liver is known as hepatitis. Can be caused by bacteria, virus, foreign bodies, some toxins etc.
Dogs have the habit of eating ground laden materials thereby swallowing worm-eggs which develop in its stomach causing problems. Regular de-worming is a must in dogs. It is recommended that de-worming once in a month is ideal
Diseases of the respiratory system
Common cold, cough, bronchitis, etc are the common respiratory diseases found in dogs as well as other pet animals.
Scabies, mange (skin disease due to parasitic mites causing severe itching) infections, dermatitis etc are common in dogs
Note before you take the Saint Bernard
Saint Bernard is a large breed of dog with fast rate of body growth so it needs large quantities of food adequately supplemented by minerals and calcium. Regular cleaning and exercise are very important. It is very sociable type, give it company and let children get acquainted with the dog. Never let your pet remain lonely for long periods, it can cause it nervous break-downs.
Dogs are generally very active types of animals they require ample space to run and play, hence before you consider bring them in (esp. a Saint Bernard) in to your house, make sure you have lots of room to spare for them; to run and play. A sturdy fence with adequate height is a must so that they won’t jump over it and scare the neighbors. As Saint Bernards are intelligent they may dig under the fence and go out, so make the fence considering this factor also!
Article by Dr. Harikrishnan
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