Who would think that dog collars have anything to say? Some do. It all started with the Swiss, centuries ago…and the significance is as relevant today as it was then.
So long ago (and even somewhat today), Swiss families prospered according to the health of their farms and particularly, their cow herds. Any help they had in running the farm came from other family members…and of course, their loyal Bernese Mountain Dog.
Berner Sennehunds (as Bernese Mountain Dogs are called), were known as a “poor man’s horse” because they were used to pull carts with the milk containers or other items around the farm or into town. Some Berners also helped herd the cows and goats…and some even were used for protecting the herd, although that task would be a non-starter for any of my Berners!
Life was challenging for these farmers – but not without celebration.
Cow Parade, Swiss-Style
In the spring, farmers would move their cows to higher pasture up in the Alps, and in the fall they would herd the cows back to the farm. This practice evolved into a holiday known now as “Cow Parades.”
Everyone got into the act on Cow Parade holidays (Alpaufzug for the ascent; Alpabzuge for the return). In the Canton of Appenzell, farmers would wear elaborate costumes – including yellow knickers – to celebrate the migration. Cows would be cleaned and groomed and adorned with HUGE bells suspended from embroidered collars.
And the family Berner joined in too! A special holiday collar was created to celebrate and recognize the loyalty, devotion, and contribution of the Berner to the success of the farm and the transition of the herd between pastures.
Berner Dog Collar Vocabulary
How best to create a dog collar to commemorate this holiday? Certainly, fashioning it from the same high quality leather as the cow’s collar, and using the Swiss leather maker’s skill in adorning the collar, would be a start.
Obviously, symbols related to the holiday – cows and farmers – would need representation on the collar. Also to be included are objects commonplace in the life of a working Berner – like the Edelweiss that crowds the upper pastures in summer, or the sparkling stars that crowd the night sky over the Alps on a clear, winter night – objects that bear witness to a Berner’s service.
What Do Zelda’s Song Dog Collars Say?
In America today, most Berners live a very different life. So do many other breeds of dogs that in the past were valued for their ability to perform very specific tasks, or possessed very specific character traits.
But they are no less integral to the lives and happiness of the people who love them…people who want to celebrate the very same contribution of loyalty, devotion and service as did the Swiss farmers in bygone years.
Zelda’s Song collar styles – The Retriever, The Lap Dog and The Mutt – celebrate the place of our dogs in our lives. Each design offers a unique grouping of symbols displayed on medallions riveted into the leather collar. These images express the traits that endear our dogs to us.
The Retriever style features a duck and a frisbee; The Lap Dog style features a bow and The Mutt style displays a collection of everyday objects found in a dog’s life – a ball, bone, hissing cat, hydrant. Commonplace things, but things that mark the fun, joy, laughter and the sweet, sweet memories of a shared life.
Zelda’s Song collars tell the heart-story of your dog.
Are Coordinating Cow Collars Next?
In a word: No. Instead, we have created charm and leather bracelets with the very same images and leather as the dog collars…but with something to make it extra personal – a photo to keep a reminder of the love with you all the time.
We’ve created photo bracelets that feature birds, fish, cats, bunnies, pigs, horses…and so, if you have a special cow in your life, we’d be happy to do that too!