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Museum of the St Bernard

ST BERNARD enthusiasts can now visit a new museum in the town of Martigny, in canton Valais, celebrating the past and present of Switzerland's most famous dog breed.

The institution also takes a look at the Great St Bernard Hospice high in the Alps, where the dogs earned their legendary status as lifesavers of travellers lost in the snow, after friars at the hospice said a lack of manpower meant they would have to give up their world famous rescue dogs. Fortunately the Barry Foundation, named after the most famous of the rescue dogs, stepped in and took over the kennels in early 2005, ensuring that the canines will still be keeping watch over the St Bernard pass.

"It was an old dream," museum director Bernadette Pasquier told swissinfo. "But thanks to a $4 million donation from the Bernard and Caroline de Watteville Foundation, the dream has become reality." The breeding programme has also been included in the museum, bringing the permanent exhibition to life. The dogs are believed to have first appeared on the St Bernard pass in the middle of the 17th century.