To the General and Jubilee-Assembly
of the Club for the "Big Swiss Mountain Dogs"
Zürich 7. 1 May 1936
Dear Friends of the Big Swiss Mountain Dogs*
You have most kindly invited me to your meeting and the twenty-fifth birthday festivity. I thank you! How I would like to have come to you! But I am in my 88th year of life and too weak to attend. As part of the festivity I am sending you a few written words which I would have spoken if feeling healthier. Please have them read to the group.
(Auf Rothöhe**) From Rothöhe, Switzerland
Be it known to all of you, my dear friends of the Mountain Dogs, that you are standing here on the grounds, surrounded by the park and house of the late famous animal lover, who:
In 1892 brought the `Dürrbächler´ (i.e. the ancient name for the Bernese Mountain Dog) to Burgdorf, Switzerland, and then again exhibited them in1912 in Bern, Switzerland. He then became a successful breeder of those dogs for many years.
In 1912 he brought the Entlebucher and exhibited them in 1913 in Langenthal, Switzerland, for the very first time.
And that he was the one who rescued the Big Swiss Mountain Dog from extinction!
That was Franz Schertenleib of Rothöhe, Switzerland. Thanks be to him!
How did this happen? As late as 1850 the Big Swiss Mountain Dog could be found all over Switzerland. Then, imported dogs of famous names and with pedigrees replaced him - he, "the common butcher´s dog without descent and name of breed." One did not see the fact that he was to be found everywhere: proof the animal to be a balanced, indigenous native old race of better, higher content, better than the displacers. By 1880 he was almost totally undiscoverable.
Then, on a journey, our friend Franz Schertenleib met in Schöntannen, Switzerland, between the towns of Schwarzenberg and Gurnigel a big dog like he never had seen before. Colored as the Dürrbächler but with short hair and a stronger, bigger build.
Franz Schertenleib was so impressed by the animal that he bought it and brought it to the judges-ring together with his Bernese in September 1908. He wanted to know, if the dog was something special, he expected no evaluation, he said. I, the judge looked at the dog strictly, then I joyfully shouted, "there, you have recovered the big `Bläß´***(bläss or blaze), believed lost!! The Big Swiss Mountain Dog." And with that remark I gladly gave him a rating of "vorzüglich" excellent and the first prize. Possibly this breed was to be rescued.
And with these words the race was baptized, and the SKG (Schweizer Kynologische Gesellschaft-Swiss Cynological Society) was the baptismal maid. Today, "Bello vom Schloßgut" would still be a winner. Soon Franz Schertenleib, the eager searcher, looked for, found and brought other Big Swiss Mountain Dogs, like "Barry" for Mr. Imhof, and "Belline" for Mr. Jaussi and some others. The ancestors of a whole race now were together! Good luck to you, multiply!
Off course, if we wanted to rescue the old breed we could not be modestly silent. At first they were discussed in the judges´ reports and requested for further search for the still existing breed, then exhibited. At a following exhibition there were 4, then 8, then 10 "Big Swiss" presented. Our president now estimates the number at about 300. Some 28 years ago we, the deceased or decrepit, found our breed again and recognized it. All of you have now, for a quarter of a century bred, educated, and practically held her and raised her.
My hearty thanks to all of you and especially the leaders of our clubs together with this plea: Be faithful to our club and our breed, faithful as the Big Mountain Dog.
May l,1936 Albert Heim
* In spite of actual habits the name of the breed is translated correctly.
** Rothöhe is a hilltop overlooking Burgdorf where Franz Schertenleib lived.
Schertenleib was the 1st registered member in the Klub für grosse Schweitzer Sennenhund, besides an admirer of dogs he was also a wine dealer.
***A dog with a broad white marking over the nose and forehead was a "Bläss".
note: Among farmers and the majority of the rural population there were no specific breed names for their dogs, they simply didn't care. The local dogs were called names depending on their colors. If the dog had a marked white collar closed over the back, he was called a "Ringgi". A dog with a broad white marking over the nose and forehead was a "Bläss". When the white marking was less pronounced or even missing he was a "Bäri". In the Emmental this dog was also called "Gelbbäckler" (yellow cheeks) or because of his yellow marks over the eyes "Vieräugler" (four eyes).
Translation by Dr. Wolfgang Reese of Wallau, Germany