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September 24, 2017

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St Bernard pair bring Swiss love, brandy

FOR Apero and Bricotine, two St Bernard dogs from Switzerland, international travel is a piece of cake.

As part of the recent Switzerland-China Year of Tourism 2017 celebration, Apero and Bricotine and their owners, David and Rachel Luthi, were in China for two weeks, promoting Swiss tourism and fostering ties between the two countries.

In Beijing, Apero and Bricotine climbed the Great Wall just like regular tourists. In Shanghai, they greeted people in a shopping mall and two major parks.

St Bernards are giant dogs. Bricotine, the female, weighs 58 kilograms and stands 85 centimeters high. Her brother weighs 70kg and is 101cm tall. They have the same mother but different fathers. Bricotine is long-haired and Apero is short-haired.

“Bricotine is probably the laziest Swiss St Bernard,” joked David when Bricotine chose to lay down at a press conference in Shanghai. “They love to eat meat and dog food, and they love nature.”

David and Rachel often take the dogs on vacation in the mountains because St Bernards love to run and play.

They were initially worried if the dogs could cope with living in hotel rooms in China, but it turned out they enjoyed the soft carpets very much.

During their stays in Beijing and Shanghai, Apero and Bricotine enjoyed meeting people. They are very large yet gentle dogs and play especially well with children.

The dogs have traveled extensively in different countries and participated in various shows and events. This time, they flew Swissair to Beijing and traveled to Shanghai by car.

As canine ambassadors for Switzerland, the brother and sister even have Chinese names now. Three-year-old Apero is named 哈罗 (Hello) and Bricotine, 2, is 哈妮 (Honey).

David and Rachel have raised dogs for 10 years and started to focus on training St Bernards three years ago.

Just like pandas to the Chinese people, St Bernards are a Swiss icon and represent the country’s values.

St Bernards are mountain working dogs that can withstand extreme cold. They are strong climbers and were originally bred for mountain search and rescue in Switzerland.

St. Bernard rescue dogs carry a barrel linked to their collar filled with brandy which victims can drink to stay warm when they are first discovered by the dog.

The most famous St Bernard to save people at the Great St Bernard Pass was Barry (1800-1814), who reportedly saved more than 40 lives during his lifetime. In the Cimetière des Chiens near Paris, there is a monument to him, and his body is preserved in the Natural History Museum in Berne.

More about Apero and Bricotine


Q: What are their personalities like?

David Luthi: Apero is very loyal and stays close to us, while Bricotine is more independent and has the personality of a kitten, because she’s a girl.


Q: How often do they travel?

Luthi: They frequently participate in dog shows so they travel to other European countries a lot, and they are quite used to that. They had a very comfortable flight to China this time, the temperature is very proper and they could lie down to rest.


Q: Is China their furthest destination?

Luthi: Distance-wise this is the furthest place they have traveled to, but we’ve driven them to Portugal, Denmark, Czech and many other countries. They participate in many competitions and have won many awards. We have a lot of trophies at home.


Q: Can St Bernards stand the heat? How are they coping with the weather here?

Luthi: It was fine because when they left Switzerland, it was hotter than Beijing — it was around 29 or 30 degrees Celsius, while Beijing was around 26. The two dogs can adjust their body temperature very well. When it’s too hot, they try to dig the ground and lay down on the soil to feel cooler.


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