Sunday, 7 December 2014

Sunday 7th December - Alpine Mastiffs Reanimating a Distressed Traveller

Good morning (or afternoon/evening/night, depending on when you are reading this) and what a lovely morning it is too.  It's all sunny and bright and rather warm in the sunshine.  Our dog, Blossom, is currently sound asleep in the sunshine, on the back of the sofa in the conservatory.  That way she can keep warm and stay 'alert' to the ever present threat of cats.  At any moment a cat might look at our garden and will need to be told the error of their ways.  It's good that she feels she has a purpose in life, but it's not really a patch on these chaps...

Alpine Mastiffs Reanimating a Distressed Traveller (1820) Edwin Landseer
I love the word 'distressed' in this context.  I think half-dead under a giant pile of snow might cover it more than 'distressed' but let's remain calm, after all we are English.  Walk it off, you'll be fine.  Anyway, these are the best sort of dog, the ones that come with a mini-bar.  I am now considering crafting some sort of Dairy Milk holdall for Blossom to carry, for emergencies.  You never know when you might become distressed.  Why take the chance?

I never really thought about the name 'St Bernard' and the barrel round the dogs neck.  Until 1880, these dogs were known as Alpine Mastiffs, Rescue Dogs, Hospice Dogs and charmingly, Barrydogs (after a dog called Barry who rescued a load of travellers).  They were then renamed in honour of St Bernard, an eleventh century chap who built a hospice for travellers in the Alps. When Landseer portrayed the big dogs with their 'reanimating' brandy barrels he was actually making it up and it stuck.  As any light-weight like me will know, drinking alcohol in cold climates is absolutely awful as it ends up making you colder, so it wouldn't really help a man buried in snow, no matter how distressed he was.  However, the little barrel caught people's imagination and it stuck as an icon for mountain rescue.  If the brandy could be swapped for amaretto, I'd rather enjoy being distressed...

My pressie suggestion today is another very personal one and is not so much a pressie for you but for a little furry friend. Some of you may remember a post I wrote a couple of years back (here) about getting a dog.  In the end we adopted a puppy from Battersea Dogs Home.  Her name is Blossom...

Blossom, half Jack Russell, half tiger, apparently
Redefines affectionate, doesn't bark, will wrap you in a blanket if you keep still
Blossom was the runt of an unwanted litter (price-winning Jack Russell mother got out and brought home shame) and was dumped with her brothers and sisters in Battersea Dogs Home.  She is daft, affectionate and puts up with being stepped on and sat on by Lily (who doesn't see her sometimes, due to her eyesight).  We could not be without her.  Adopting a dog is a very big change in your life but is utterly worth it.  If you can't adopt then please consider donating money or supplies to your local animal shelter this Christmas.  They are heartbreaking places but I think the kindness we show to animals is a little piece of ourselves that is golden and is its own reward.

To find out more about the work of Battersea Dogs Home, look here.
To read my lovely friend and fellow Pre-Raphaelite blogger, Verity Holloway's beautiful piece on her dog Brontë, look here.

See you tomorrow...

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Many thanks for your comment. I shall post it up shortly! Kx