Tongues lolling, straining at the leash, they look the picture of boisterous affection. It's hard to believe that just a few months ago these St Bernards were close to death in filthy kennels.
They were among more than 100 dogs found by RSPCA officers last November locked in cages without food, water or heating.
Their owner, breeder Mary-Ellen Collis, 50, had allegedly abandoned them for over a week.
Abandoned: RSPCA staff with some of the St Bernards left without food, water or heating in filthy kennels
The alarm was raised by a man who had left his dog at the kennels while he was away. On his return, he found that he could not contact Collis. He alerted a former employee and together they gained entry to the Wardana Kennels and Cattery in Brigstock, Northamptonshire.
They found 102 dogs – 98 St Bernards and four others – living in squalor in Collis's house and a set of purposebuilt kennels.
Two were in such poor condition that they later died. With the help of six villagers, the rescuers worked tirelessly to clean and feed the animals before the RSPCA arrived five hours later.
Appeal: The RSPCA is searching for new owners for the dogs, which cost £2000 a week to feed
It is thought that Collis bred the dogs when the market for them was stronger – they used to be worth £1,000 each – but a fall in demand meant that she did not sell a single one of the 50 or so puppies born at her kennels last year.
Prize-winning: St Bernards were made famous by the 1991 film Beethoven
The surviving dogs have been nursed back to health by the animal charity at an estimated cost of £100,000. Food bills alone top £2,000 a week.
The RSPCA is now looking for homes for the gentle giants in five counties across the Midlands and south of England.
Officers stressed that St Bernards are large and shaggy-haired, meaning they need plenty of space and lots of grooming.
Spokesman Paul Williams said: 'They all have good temperaments but their kennel background means they will need owners with the knowledge and time to help them settle.
'The majority of the dogs range in age from two to eight years and older and should make very loyal and rewarding pets.'
Mr Williams said that a donation to the RSPCA would be required to cover the cost of neutering, vaccinating and microchipping the dogs.
Sadly, a bottle of brandy is not included. Anyone hoping to rehome a dog or make a donation can contact the RSPCA on 0300 123 8000.
Give the dog a home: The 100 St Bernards that need to be rescued | Mail Online