Killington VT Summit Lodge Saint Bernards
Summit Lodge Killington Tradition Lives On
The amazing history of the Saint Bernard dog with photos of the Saint Bernards from The Summit Lodge in Killington, Vermont. The Saint Bernards above lived at Vermont’s Summit Lodge overlooking the mountains of Killington. The Summit keeps two Saint Bernards “on staff” to greet visitors and welcome guests to this fabulous, four-season mountain resort.
Killington Vacations: Summit Lodge VT
Note: The Summit Lodge was sold in 2015. At last check, Saint Bernard dogs are no longer at the Summit Lodge.
Minutes from the base lodge at Killington Ski Area is where you are sure to find ‘the Saints”. The Summit Lodge on Killington’s Mountain Road has shared its comfortable lodging facilities with Saint Bernard’s for more than 35 years. It seems only fitting that this marvelous breed found its way in the history of an inn near a ski resort like Killington.
The tradition of the Summit Lodge’s Saint Bernards begins about 1964. Bob and Breda Harnish were the owners of the Summit Lodge when a guest suggested the breed. With the Swiss-style decor at the time, the idea seemed the appropriate step to add to the atmosphere.
Daisy (the first Summit Saint) became a real hit with the visitors. The home-style atmosphere and the dog were well-suited to each other. In the tradition of the Saint Bernards of Switzerland, there are tales, (either real or imagined), of Daisy having led lost skiers out of the snow. It has been said that it is probably more likely that she lead them home after a late night at a local bar.
Daisy had gotten used to having company around, so when a local businessman told then manager Dave Buckwalter that a Saint had been left at a nearby vet’s clinic he accepted the offer to take him. Enter Schaefer on Christmas week, who strolled into the front lobby and sat down as if it had always been his home. When Daisy died, Schaefer refused to eat and became very lethargic – obviously, a new companion had to be found. After much searching, Inga came to Killington. She fit right into life at the Summit. She and Schaefer were notorious for sniffing out dogs that guests tried to smuggle into the facilities under their coats. Inga was also very territorial when it came to wild animals on the ground.
One quiet evening, Inga suddenly started to bark, and thinking she had to go out, Dave simply let her out. The barking became worse and Dave opened the ground level window of his apartment to investigate the commotion. Staring Inga in the face, with it’s aft end toward Dave, was a skunk. Cornered, the skunk used it’s famous arsenal and got both Inga and Dave in full force! The two of them ended up taking a bath out in the parking lot at 2 o’clock in the morning.
In the true sense of loyalty, Inga was always faithful to home and master, never straying off the Summit property, but when Sarah Buckwalter was a toddler, Inga acted as her protector. One afternoon during a very large reception at the lodge, Sarah managed to get away from her mother and elude recapture by toddling unnoticed through the large gathering until she got out the door. While the Buckwalters frantically searched the pool and hot tub and any other of the more hazardous areas for a toddler, Sarah merrily made her way down the driveway to Killington Road, heading to West Hill Road to visit her friend. Inga, spotting the danger, walked beside her continually nudging her as far off the pavement and into the guard rail as possible. Sarah and her protector had made it to West Hill Road when the local constable spotted her and took her safely home to her anxious parents.
In the early 70’s, Charlie joined Daisy in guest greeting at the Summit, but his career was short-lived. He didn’t adjust well to the limitations of having to stay out of the kitchen! 1971 brought new ownership to the Summit, and Daisy stayed on as head guest greeter. Soon to join here was Dorli, a very timed example of the breed that hid under the piano every time guests arrived. Dorli found a good home in Weston, Massachusetts.
Crunch was her successor after someone just dropped him off in front of the lodge. His residency was shortened after he devoured half of a 44-pound roast beef. Crunch was notorious for his kitchen thievery; at Christmas, he was caught stealing 121 of the chef’s freshly roasted ducks. Some say that’s where he got his name. After it was decided that Crunch had to go there was a Save-O-Crunch campaign by some staff members with notes stuck all over the kitchen. Finally, one of the staff members found him a good home on a farm, ending his reign of theft and tyranny over the chef.
Casey entered the picture and stole the hearts of the inhabitants of the Summit. Schatzie immediately took to her new little companion, and both of them would lie together on the rug in the lobby, or near the living room fireplace and accept the multitude of pats and scratches from admiring guests.
When Schatzie passed away in the summer of 1987, an immediate search was on for another Saint. When a breeder in Connecticut was found, Innkeepers Bill and Loon Bauer (the Summit’s present Innkeepers) drove down to select a puppy. They returned with a beautiful 8 week old female, and the task of naming her was at hand. They decided to hold another contest, since it worked so well before. From the many entries, the name Heidi was chosen for the new puppy. Casey and Heidi took up their post at the front desk, greeting guests, accepting hugs and ear scratches from anyone who walked by, and joining in the manager’s cocktail parties in the living room for some hors d’oeuvres hand outs.
Later that same year, Casey, who suffered from serious hip problems, suddenly became much worse to the point where he could barely move. The difficult decision was made, and with not a dry eye in the lodge, Casey was brought to the vet for the last time. Casey’s magnificent face is now immortalized on the sweatshirts and tee shirts sold in the Summit’s gift shop.
Within a month, a new breeder had been located and a new puppy and companion for Heidi was on the way… from North Dakota!! The new Saint Bernard, all of ten weeks old, flew by himself from Christine, North Dakota, and arrived safely in Boston to an anxiously waiting Bill and Loon. The Summit’s newest Saint Bernard, named Maxwell, learned the ropes quickly from Heidi, and the two of them were well-known fixtures in the lodge’s front lobby, accepting pats and hugs from all ages. Maxwell’s popularity led to the renaming of the Summit Lodge’s restaurant as Maxwell’s Restaurant. As fate would have it, Maxwell developed serious health problems and at the age of only six years old, was brought to the veterinarian for the last time.
Once again, Heidi was left alone to be the sole guest greeter. Shortly thereafter, Bill and Loon traveled to a breeder in Connecticut and picked out a new companion for her. The new puppy arrived at just 8 weeks old and took to his new surroundings and Heidi right away. Named Henry, he quickly won the hearts of everyone with his great personality and antics. Henry is truly a magnificent Saint Bernard and a real character.
Heidi passed away at the age of 10 (Saint Bernards seldom live much past ten years) and the despondent Henry found a new friend. Enter Abigail in November of 1997. Abigail was a mere 8 pounds and just 8 weeks old when she arrived at the Summit. She was an instant hit. The playful, friendly pup is growing quickly and awaits your attention at the Summit Lodge.
Schaefer was also known to be territorial when it came to other dogs on the property. During a wedding ceremony on the front lawn, he spied a neighbor’s German Shepherd sniffing around the far lawn. Forgetting his usual manners, he shot right through the middle of the wedding ceremony at full speed and chased the offender off the property.