The Saint Bernard is a dog that was specifically bred for a single purpose—to search and rescue. Monks at the Saint Bernard Pass, a dangerous, snowy divide between Switzerland and Italy, bred them for hundreds of years—perhaps even as far back as 1695—to rescue travelers who got lost andburied in the snow. They traveled in pairs so that when they found a victim, one dog could dig them out and sit on them for warmth while the other headed back to the monastery for help. Which brings us to the second Saint Bernard on our list—Barry, who saved 40 people’s lives over the course of 12 years in the early 1800s.
Barry’s most famous rescue was of a small child who’d become lost and trapped on a treacherous ice shelf. Barry managed to reach the boy, revive him, and keep him warm until rescue arrived. But even then, nobody could get to them. So Barry allowed the child to climb onto his back and pulled him to safety, inch by inch. Barry was so effective as a rescue dog that after his departure there was always one dog at the monastery named Barry—a tradition that persists to this day.