According to legend, St. Bernard dogs wore casks of liquor around their necks when they went on rescue missions in the Alps. Though historical records do not back up the use of this accessory, the dogs did help travelers stranded after severe snowstorms.
Monks ran a hospice to serve people using the Great St. Bernard Pass, because the trail was free of snow for only a few months annually. Servants took large, broad-chested dogs to clear paths through the snow. Because of the dogs' good sense of direction, acute sense of smell and ability to withstand cold, the animals excelled at finding travelers who were injured, lost or buried in snow. Dogs worked in teams to locate victims. While one animal used his body heat to keep the injured party warm, the other returned to the hospice to get more help.