Switzerland's St. Bernard dogs lap up new social role

STORY: St. Bernard dogs are one of Switzerland's national symbols

Location: Martigny, Switzerland

They were internationally renowned for helping in alpine rescues

Now, they've taken on a new role

as therapeutic and educational support dogs for vulnerable people

(Andrea Zollinger, The Barry Foundation)

“They are not working as avalanche dogs anymore, because they are too big. Now, they use smaller dogs to be transported in helicopters on the intervention sites. The St. Bernard today is a breed that works on the social front. They work in hospitals, in nursing homes with senior citizens. They help people undergoing therapy, meet with children and prisoners. They work wonders.”

The dogs take part in some 600 engagements across Switzerland every year

“They are wonderful. Passion is driving this whole adventure. But, of course, it's a very strong symbol of Switzerland."