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Rescue Me

June 13, 2006

Famed for its namesake dog breed, l'Hospice du Grand-Saint-Bernard is open to tourists at this time of year. Located high (8,100 ft.) in an Alpine pass joining Italy and Switzerland (known as the Col du Grand-Saint-Bernard), the hospice is operated by an order of Augustinian monks who've employed Saint Bernards as rescue dogs since the mid-17th century.

Early last year, Swiss philanthropists formed the Barry of the Great Saint Bernard Foundation to take control of the popular dogs from the financially strapped monastery. Under the new arrangement, the Saint Bernards will continue to spend their summers at the hospice and then winter in Martigny, a city located in the valley below the Col du Grand-Saint-Bernard.

The foundation is named after Barry, the most famous of the hospice's Saint Bernards, who is credited with saving the lives of more than 40 people in the early 19th century. In fact, Saint Bernards were known for years as "Barry dogs."

"Yeah, okay," says Orange Bear. "But do they carry any honey in those barrels?"

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