Barry the Brave ~ Harmony Barron


One of my greatest childhood heroes was a famous dog named Barry– known to us all as ‘Barry the bravest St. Bernard’. The legend tells us that Barry saved more than forty lives during his time working as a mountain rescue dog for the Great St Bernard Hospice in Switzerland, including that of a young boy, whom Barry uncovered in an avalanche. He warmed the child’s body with a tongue bath and then carried him back to the Hospice upon his own back.

There are more then a few tales surrounding his eventual death. One states that he was killed by a disorientated Swiss solder who thought he was a wolf during a rescue. The one believed by most is that he retired from his job as a rescue dog, with a Swiss monk in Bern, Switzerland, and died of old age at fourteen in the year 1814. His skin was preserved by a taxidermist, and is on display at the Natural History Museum of Bern.

The Hospice has always maintained one St. Bernard named Barry in the original’s honor. Back in Barry’s day, the developing breed remained nameless, and was often referred to as an ‘Alpine Mastiff’ or ‘Alpine-dog’. Following Barry’s death, up until 1865, when the breed was formally recognized as the St. Bernard, most people simply and lovingly referred to them as ‘Barry Hounds’. The breed has changed in size and structure over the last couple hundred years– Barry himself was finer built with a longer muzzle, and probably weighed in around 80 or 90 pounds, unlike today’s breed which averages between 150 and 190 pounds.

Barry remains one of my heroes today, and although his story and adventures have been documented well in picture books and novels for young readers, I still plan to honor him with my own children’s book one of these days. I don’t think a dog of his importance and stature can ever have his tale told too many times.

To honor him today though, I’ll share with you all my latest Pet Portrait– The Saint Bernard. The model for this drawing is a rescue dog who resides at the Milo Foundation outside of Willits, Ca, where my sister Sonia works extra hard to find these incredible animals forever homes. To see the rest of my Pet Portrait Greeting Cards, you can visit my website at www.harmonysart.com

Thanks for stopping by folks, hope everybody is having a lovely day.

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6 Responses to “Barry the Brave ~ Harmony Barron”

  1. Oh, Harmony, this one is so loveable and beautiful as is the story. I have not heard that before. The animals’ section in my elementary library is one of the most popular. Fiction and nonfiction dog books are usually out leaving the shelves pretty bare. I can’t wait for your book. Hope you are having a lovely day too. We had sun all day and it’s starting to warm up a touch.

    • Harmony Barron Reply June 14, 2011 at 09:05

      Thank you Margie! I’m glad I got to share a little of Barry’s story with you. Dog books have always been my favorite as well, (they still are!) And I’m happy to note that both Oksana and Julian are avid bookworms, and my childhood dog book collection are some of their favorites, that puts a huge smile on my face 🙂

  2. How is it we have not talked about this?! My absolutly favorite book as a child was “Barry the Great St. Bernard”, which I must have read to my St. Bernard/Husky “Boomer” about a thousand times. I used to pretend that we were a rescue team, (or sometimes we were spies, lol) That dog and the book nurtured my apparently life-long complete addiction to dogs and the working partnerships between man and dog. I found that old book here recently and started reading it to Kasey. It’s still in pretty good shape considering how many times its been read, and taken along on camping trips, road trips, etc. I love love love the portrait, and how you have captured the will to please from this magnificent breed:)

    • Harmony Barron Reply June 14, 2011 at 09:40

      I’m willing to guess we have a lot in common Barrie! And yes, my childhood German Shepherd, Laika, was the recipient of all kinds of long, involved roll playing games. (She was my very best friend after all!) I was drawn to sleddogs, probably for the same reasons you were– because of that ultimate partnership between musher and dogs. It is so wonderful to now expose our little ones to those same books and heroes that we loved as children. I bet Oksana and Kasey would be great buddies!! Thanks for you comment and compliments.

  3. I’m so proud of your artistic talents & your blossoming abilities as a writer…you really are an amazing woman. I’m lucky to have you as my wife.

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