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The Icelandic Sheep Dog

Discover the Icelandic Sheepdog's history and resurgence as Iceland's national dog. Join us in 2024 for the opening of our exhibition dedicated to this unique breed. Help spread the word about this remarkable breed and participate in strengthening its presence on the international stage.

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Glói´s destiny in Greenland

Glói´s destiny in Greenland

I came across a picture the other day with information about an expedition to Greenland that I had actually heard about before, but mainly in connection with the use of Icelandic horses in that context. What caught my attention was an Icelandic dog in the picture, and I decided to learn more about this story. After a short search, I found a narrative by Vigfús Sigurðsson of his journey with Capt. J. P. Koch, Dr. Alfred Wegener, and Lars Larsen in one of the world's harshest environments during the Danish expedition of 1912–1913, to Dronning Louise Land in northeast Greenland and across the Greenland ice sheet to Kangersuatsiaq on the west coast, which was then called Pröven. I acquired the ebook "[Across Greenland: Struggle for Survival and Exploration with J.P. Koch & Alfred Wegener](https://www.amazon.com/Crossing-Greenland-Survival-Exploration-Wegener-ebook/dp/B0BWZ1WFGM)" but also found an original edition in an antique bookstore, which I bought. This expedition is unusual because the expedition members used Icelandic horses to pull sleds with equipment and supplies from the coast to the glacier and across the Greenland ice cap to the west coast. They also conducted scientific measurements. Dr. Alfred Wegener had already published scientific papers on his theory of continental drift, which would later revolutionize the understanding of the movement of the earth's crust. Accompanying the expedition was the Icelandic dog Glói: "On the evening of July 6th (1912), everything was ready. The horses were on board and secured on the deck. We had gained a new travel companion, a small yellow dog with a white chest, who went by the name Glói. He didn't seem to be much of a model dog in terms of intelligence, but that mattered little; he was only there to add to the companionship..." In Vigfús's book, Glói is often mentioned, and various incidents are described, such as when a musk was killed to provide meat for Glói, when Glói warned of a polar bear, when he got lost after a glacier flood, how his bed was made, and how Glói saved the four men from starvation when he was slaughtered. I will definitely compile some stories about Glói and more pictures I found to create a special story about him in the story section of this website. I am so fascinated by the story of this dog, and I feel it needs to be made more visible. You can also read [Alfred Wegener's diaries](https://www.environmentandsociety.org/exhibitions/wegener-diaries/nl001-010167#main-content) and his account of Glói. Picture: Alfred Wegener ---

Dogs from Sellátur

Dogs from Sellátur

My brain is essentially full of names of dogs that are somehow connected and are notable dogs, and I feel the need to write down this information and my thoughts about these dogs. But where to begin? Let's start with Mark Watson. He took eight dogs to California: four from Breiðdalur, one from Jökuldalur, one from Jökulsárhlíð, one from Fossárdalur, and one from Blönduhlíð in Skagafjörður. The dogs Mark Watson acquired from various parts of the country were kept at Keldur and then shipped abroad from there. According to the writings of Þórhildur Bjartmarz, the story goes that the manager at Keldur had a part in ensuring that the bitches Pollý and Snúlla were not sent abroad but instead used for breeding. Birgir Kjaran, a member of parliament and one of the founders of the Icelandic Kennel Club HRFÍ, wrote an article about Icelandic sheepdogs in [Morgunblaðið in 1969](https://timarit.is/page/3292626#page/n7/mode/2up). Birgir writes: "… there (at Keldur) are two Icelandic bitches that Mark Watson seems to have left behind at that time: one is called Pollý and is a beautiful reddish-brown color. The other is black with a white collar and is named Snúlla." Birgir himself owned the dog Klói from Sellátrum, and according to Birgir, Klói was paired with Pollý and Snúlla: "… With them, Klói has probably had nearly a hundred puppies, most of which have lived and spread widely around the country, including at Hestur in Borgarfjörður and at Hólar. Their descendants are also the dogs of Sveinn Kjarval and the breed that Mrs. Sigríður Pétursdóttir at Ólafsvellir in Skeið is now trying to breed. – So I suspect that Klói probably contributed significantly to the survival of the Icelandic dog breed." Since dog keeping was difficult in urban areas, Birgir arranged for Klói to stay for long periods at Keldur in Mosfellssveit. According to [the database](http://www.islenskurhundur.com/Dog/Details/4896#), Pollý had a total of four puppies, all with Klói. [Snúlla from Tunga](http://www.islenskurhundur.com/Dog/Details/12089#) seems to have been Pollý's mother, and Pollý is her only registered offspring. So it's uncertain where the hundred puppies Birgir mentions are. One of Klói's offspring was [Kátur from Keldur](https://www.fjarhundur.is/en/blog/merkishundar), about whom I have written before. Kátur had [53 puppies](http://www.islenskurhundur.com/Dog/Details/4965#), and most or all dogs from Ólafsvellir trace their lineage to him. Perhaps Birgir was referring to Klói's influence on breeding? Probably. It's also worth considering whether the registrations during the early years of organized breeding were always accurate. Who knows? It's at least very interesting to read Birgir's article, and I'd like to write a few words about the dogs from Sellátrum, where he got his Klói. Birgir writes in Morgunblaðið in 1969: "About Klói's pedigree and origin, this is the main thing to say, according to information from Davíð Davíðsson, a farmer at Sellátur, now the chief officer in Tálknafjörður, from whom Klói originates. When Davíð Davíðsson came to Sellátur around 1940 or 1941, there were two dogs there. One was a yellow bitch with a black mouth and muzzle and black eyelids. It is believed she was from Stóra-Langadalur. The dog was from Kvígindisfell. Davíð believes that this breed was brought west from Snæfellsnes by a man named Ólafur Kolbeinsson, who moved west around the turn of the century. According to Davíð, this breed has spread throughout Tálknafjörður and is generally yellow in color (golden), sometimes even white or brown with white toes. The ears are well upright, and the tail is curled. He considers their temperament pleasant, gentle, somewhat sensitive, good herding dogs, and excellent at tracking foxes. When they sniff out fox tracks, they become extremely excited and hard to control. They just follow the trail." In recent months, I've corresponded with Höskuldur Davíðsson, one of the 12 siblings from Sellátur, and it was fun to hear his memories from his childhood years in Tálknafjörður. Regarding the dogs, he told me: "They understood the language and obeyed what they were asked to do, such as bringing sheep from the mountains. They never bit but still had a good knack for making the sheep obey them. Their qualities passed naturally between generations… they were emotional and sincerely participated in our joys and sorrows. They ate the same food as us and were just part of the family." The bitch Kollý was a particular favorite of Höskuldur, and he sent me a short story and lots of pictures, which [you can see here](https://www.fjarhundur.is/en/saga/kolly-fra-sellatrum). I've often wondered if Kollý is the bitch [Kola from Sellátrum](https://www.dogsglobal.com/icelandic-sheepdog/dog/details/73633/6/) in the databases, as she is listed as Klói's mother. Kola is said to have been born in 1956, and her parents' names were Tryggur and Snotra. I asked Höskuldur if that could be right and if he remembers these dogs Tryggur and Snotra. Regarding Kola's birth year, Höskuldur says, "In my mind, Kollý was around when I started walking. 1956 seems a bit late, as I was eight years old then." He consulted his two older sisters, and the siblings did not recognize the names Tryggur and Snotra. Sigurlína, Höskuldur's sister, remembers so-called "livestock dealers" who traveled around the countryside and bought disease-free sheep, and on one occasion, they also got three puppies. So the name extension "from Sellátrum" can be true in many cases, but the puppies were often sent to other owners without names. Likely, Kola is not Kollý, and of course, it doesn't matter much, but it's fun to speculate. I thank Höskuldur and his sisters for their contribution to recounting the history of the dogs from Sellátur.

Two verses

Two verses

I found the following two verses during my early morning reading. Initially, I thought I wouldn't even try to translate them, as I felt incapable of conveying these Icelandic words into poetic English. However, after my morning coffee, I sought help from Aubrey Wood. Aubrey lives in Iceland and owns the beautiful Laufeyjar Íslands-Tangó frá Dverghamri. After exchanging a few messages back and forth, we decided to give it a try. Translating poetry is never easy, and we employed a bit of "artistic freedom," but hopefully, you'll get a glimpse of what the verses convey. Thanks, Aubrey! _Heitir Valur hundur minn_ _hann er falur valla._ _Einatt smalar auminginn_ _upp um dali fjalla._ [Author unknown](https://bragi.arnastofnun.is/arnes/visur.php?VID=24274) _Heitir Kolur hundur minn,_ _hefur bol úr skinni._ _Er að vola auminginn_ _inn í holu sinni._ [Baldvin Halldórsson from Þverárdal 1863–1934](https://bragi.arnastofnun.is/skag/hofundur.php?ID=15568) The name of my dog is Valur  He is handsome, without a doubt  Always herding, the poor thing  In the valleys of the mountains. The name of my dog is Kolur His body is covered in fur  The poor thing is crying  In his hole. _Picture found in the book:_ 100 Íslenzkar myndir. Pálmi Hannesson. Reykjavík 1965 (?)

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CONTACT->

Lýtingsstaðir, 561 Varmahlíð.
Phone: +354 893 3817
[email protected]

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