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Documents of interest

Documents of interest

Recently, I received a large electronic shipment of interesting documents from Canada for the exhibition. I have previously written about [Strútur from Ólafsvellir](https://www.fjarhundur.is/en/saga/strutur-fra-olafsvollum), the first Icelandic dog that was exported to Canada. Now, I have obtained letters and other documents about his purchase and export, newspaper articles, photos, and also photocopies of correspondence with Mark Watson about his book. It is very pleasing to receive such documents that trace the interesting story of Strútur and preserve it.  The Consulate General of Iceland in Winnipeg assisted with the photocopying of the documents that Salín Guttormsson was providing. I am very grateful to Salín and the Consulate General of Iceland in Winnipeg for this collaboration. The photocopies are of the highest quality so it will be easy to reprint the documents and have them on display at the exhibition.

More reflexions on the naming

More reflexions on the naming

Following my post yesterday, I decided to discuss my thoughts about the naming with the owners and friends of the Icelandic Sheepdog. I asked people on Facebook, "If the Icelandic Sheepdog were just called the Icelandic dog, what would be different?" This sparked a significant discussion that I found both necessary and interesting, and I thank everyone who shared their thoughts on this matter. It was noted that the Icelandic Sheepdog is a working dog, used for herding sheep, cattle, or horses. But it is also good at many other things. Some can catch mice, collect eggs from nests, track scents, or serve as rescue dogs. Given the Icelandic Sheepdog's diverse roles, names like Icelandic farm dog or Icelandic herding dog were suggested, as well as watch and guard dog, though more in jest and to explore how they would sound. Nobody wants to change the name; that much is clear, and it is not what I want or am calling for either. At some point, the name Icelandic Sheepdog was decided upon or documented, and I heard that the Agricultural Association played a role in this decision to make it more appealing as a farming dog. That was when organized breeding began, and a lot of effort was needed to prevent the dog from going extinct. Of course, if we look at the dog's history and what it was used for through the ages, it was the work involving sheep. Hanna Kristin, who breeds Icelandic Sheepdogs at Reykjavellir, put it well: "...it was most useful around the sheep. Few farmers owned many horses, and they were just outside. There was little fussing with them on a daily basis. The sheep needed to be driven to where the pasture was, brought home when the weather turned foul, kept in pens, driven out of the fields in summer, retrieved from cliffs and crags when they got stuck, searched for when they were snowed in, and dug out of the snow. It seems natural to me that the national dog is associated with the sheep, which sustained the life of the nation. It played such a significant role in the work around the sheep" In old Icelandic texts, the term "sheepdog" is often used. In English texts, however, the term Icelandic dog is more common, and when I was searching for old books in digital libraries that mentioned Icelandic dogs, I hardly found any books with the search term _Icelandic sheepdog_, but I did find books when I entered _Icelandic dog_. Mark Watson named his book The Iceland Dog 874-1956 and writes in the book's preface: "As there is only one true type of dog in Iceland, would it not be easier to call him simply the Iceland dog, and at the same time let it be understood that he comes under the heading of a 'working dog'? Many more authors refer to the Icelandic Dog rather than the Icelandic Sheepdog - occasionally the Danes mentioned the Islandske Spidshunde..." It seems that this discussion is not new at all and will most likely not end here. And that is okay.

A bit of delving and reflections on the naming

A bit of delving and reflections on the naming

Time flies and tasks change with the rising sun. But there is still a little time to delve into books and articles. I came across this narrative that fits so well with the weather tonight (blizzard ahead): "Numerous stories have been recorded about the interaction between man and dog. Since the settlement era, the dog has been, along with the horse, the most useful servant to Icelanders. It led its master when one could not see out of one's eyes due to the blinding blizzard and delivered him home to the farm doors." Sarpur/Þjóðhættir. Male, born in 1905 Then there were two books by Stefán Aðalsteinsson that I was flipping through. Stefán Aðalsteinsson (1928-2009) was an Icelandic author and PhD in animal science. He completed his doctoral thesis on the genetics of sheep colors. His research on Icelandic livestock, including the origins of domestic animals, is still important today and makes for very interesting reading. In the book "The Sheep, the Land, and the Nation", Rvk. 1981, I found a short text from a dissertation in Búnaðarrit (The Agricultural Journal) from 1891 (by Hermann Jónasson): "It is extraordinary to think that in mountainous areas, where sheep farming is the main occupation, the majority of dogs should be of little use and poorly trained; and that hardly any men are found who have the skill, or rather the will, to train them. ... Then it is to consider whether it is possible to train Icelandic dogs so that they become as promising as "foreign dogs". This is difficult to answer; for, although it is remarkable to contemplate, I know of no instance where an attempt has been made with full diligence and patience to train an Icelandic dog. That is to say, with the persistence that is applied abroad." It's always interesting to contemplate the working nature of the Icelandic sheepdog and I actually think it's completely unnecessary to always compare its nature to that of Border Collie dogs or to expect the Icelandic dog to work like "foreign dogs." They are just different and that's perfectly fine. I've been thinking lately that the naming "Icelandic Sheepdog" might not have been very wise. If it were just called the Icelandic dog, what would be different? Would we avoid endless comparisons with other sheepdog breeds? Would there be less prejudice against it? Would we be prouder of our national dog? Picture: Stefán Aðalsteinsson

Filming week

Filming week

There's been a lot happening in the last few days as we had a film crew with us, busy shooting pictures and videos for the exhibition and promotional material related to it. On Sunday, a good group of people with their dogs came for a photo shooting in front of our turf houses. It was incredibly fun, the weather especially nice, cold but sunny. I want to list up all the dogs because they will play their part in various materials related to the project: Leiru Tryggur (see picture) Breiðanes Kría Breiðanes Björt Breiðanes Eldur Breiðanes Elding Gerplu Kvika Sunnusteins Prins Stokk-Sels Bósi On Monday, we shot material here at the farm. Our dogs _Reykjavalla Íslands Sómi_ and _Huldudals Hraundís_ played the leading roles as we focused on their interactions with the horses and sheep and the working nature of the Icelandic sheepdog. Among other things, they were equipped with GoPro cameras on their backs, which will provide a different perspective than we are used to. On Tuesday, we interviewed Hanna Kristín at Reykjavellir about her view on the Icelandic sheepdog and her breeding goals. We then followed Hanna on a walk with her dogs. They are: Reykjavalla Sæla Reykjavalla Viska Reykjavalla Vaskur Vestanvindur Hrauni Tindsson Close-ups were taken of Vaskur and Hrauni. They, along with Viska, are dogs with double dewclaws, and breeding them is one of Hanna's breeding goals. Then we went to Glaumbær and got permission to film inside the old farm. It's still very difficult to find historical pictures of Icelandic sheepdogs, so we thought of solutions, and I look forward to seeing the outcome. Thursday was the last shooting day, and then it was our turn, the farmers, to talk about our dog life and discuss the characteristics of the Icelandic sheepdog. Sómi and Hraundís finally got their photo shoot at the turf houses. The evening was used for further brainstorming for the exhibition, and I feel I have a good idea now of how it will be best to set it up. We're quite exhausted after this week but very excited to see all the footage. There's still a lot of work to do before we can open the exhibition, but we're on the right track. Producing such high-quality content as we did these past days wouldn't be possible without the grant we received from the Development Fund of Northwest Iceland. The grant allowed us to hire professionals for the job, and since we've worked with the same team before, we expect an excellent outcome. I want to thank everyone who helped us in this part of the project; those who traveled to bring their dogs for the photo shoot, Hanna for the reception, the museum director and staff at Glaumbær who granted us special and by no means guaranteed permission, and special thanks to my husband and son for their patience and support with all my ideas. Finally, I want to mention our social media. It pays to hit "like" on our [Facebook page](https://www.facebook.com/fjarhundur) to hear about new content on this site and those who want to follow the daily dog life on our farm Lýtingsstaðir are directed to our [Instagram](https://www.instagram.com/fjarhundur/).

Stories about Icelandic sheep dogs

Stories about Icelandic sheep dogs

A while ago, I advertised for stories about Icelandic sheepdogs; old and recent, entertaining and poignant, interesting achievements and beautiful everyday stories. I want to create a collection of stories that touch peoples hearts and are representative for the Icelandic sheepdog. Now, the first stories are out there, and I am very pleased with the outcome. I still have to put more stories into the collection but it is good to get started to present them. I also hope to receive more stories that are enjoyable to preserve here.  The stories can be found under the button labeled "SAGA," and I hope people enjoy reading them. In the end, I want to thank everyone who sent me stories and pictures. _In the picture above is Reykjadals Móri, taken by Brynhildur Inga._

Exciting times ahead

Exciting times ahead

Even though I haven't written much recently, I have been steadily working on the project, reading and researching.  The next part of the website is almost ready, and it will include a section where you can browse and read stories about Icelandic sheepdogs that I have received. These are all sorts of stories, short and long, and it will be fun to get them started.  Yesterday, I advertised again for old photographs and received so many responses, so many tips and pictures that I sat at the computer far into the night. Thank you to everyone who contacted me. I feel like I'm finally one step closer to having old photographs for the exhibition.  There's so much coming up for us in the next few weeks. We plan to participate in the travel exhibition, Mannamót in Reykjavík next week, where we will introduce our exhibition to travel agencies and tour guides and distribute marketing material.  In February, we will have a team join us to record various dog-related photography content and videos for the exhibition, and I am really looking forward to it. We know this young team that has previously created marketing material for us, and we met today to put together ideas and a work plan.  Wow, this is all becoming so real!

More funding for the project

More funding for the project

This fall, I applied again for funding for the project on the Icelandic Sheepdog, as without funding it is impossible to work on such a project and bring ideas to life. Recently, I was informed of grants I will get. One is from a Development Fund in Northwest Iceland, which will fund me for a second time. This grant will cover the design and setup of the exhibition. I also received a grant from the Culture Fund of the local cooperative KS which will be put to good use in covering certain costs such as marketing. I am very grateful for this financial support which shows equal trust in my ideas and ability to bring up the exhibition about the history of the Icelandic Sheepdog which will hopefully raise the image of the national dog to a higher level.

The poem RAKKI

The poem RAKKI

RAKKI Sá er nú meir en trúr og tryggur með trýnið svart og augun blá, fram á sínar lappir liggur líki bóndans hjá. Hvorki vott né þurrt hann þiggur, þungt er í skapi, vot er brá, en fram á sínar lappir liggur líki bóndans hjá. Ef nokkur líkið snertir, styggur stinna sýnir hann jaxla þá, og fram á sinar lappir liggur líki bóndans hjá. Til dauðans er hann dapur og hryggur, dregst ei burt frá köldum ná, og hungurmorða loks hann liggur líki bóndans hjá. This beautiful poem RAKKI is after Grímur Thomsen (1820-1896), an Icelandic poet. Grímur often sought inspiration from the past in the style of romantic poets.  He wrote the poem, about an Icelandic dog that died of sorrow due to the loss of its master. The bond between a dog and its master can sometimes transcend death.  I do not trust myself to translate this masterpiece and did not find a translation of it yet but the story behind the poem is believed to have taken place in East Iceland in 1869: _On the path to the churchyard in Þingmúla in Skriðdal there is a statue of a dog lying out on its paws. This is the path of Þorgrímur Arnórsson, who in his lifetime was a priest in Hofteigur in Jökuldal and in Þingmúla. He was a great farmer and animal lover. He had excellent horses and always had a dog which lay in his lap when he was at home, and always followed him on his travels. The last dog of Reverend Þorgrímur was called Rakki. When Reverend Þorgrímur died, the dog did not want to leave his body, and Rakki was promised to lie with the corpse. He could not be convinced to take food or drink. The body was put in a coffin, and Rakki kept vigil. Then the funeral procession began, and when the coffin was carried into the church, Rakki followed it to the church doors. When the coffin was carried out, it became apparent that Rakki had been waiting at the church doors. He followed the coffin, and when the grave had been filled in, he lay down on the grave mound. He was tried to be carried away, but he resisted the worst, and as soon as he was released, he ran out into the churchyard and lay down on Reverend Þorgrímur's grave. Rakki was given food and drink, but he did not take any of it, and eventually he died of hunger on the grave. A British traveller who came to Þingmúla was told the story of Rakki. He was so moved by it that he had a statue of the dog made and sent it to Iceland with the instructions that it should be placed on Reverend Þorgrímur's grave._ _Source_ [_Dýraverndarinn 1955_](https://timarit.is/page/4948420#page/n1/mode/2up)

Sigríður Pétursdóttir from Ólafsvellir

Sigríður Pétursdóttir from Ólafsvellir

Sigríður Pétursdóttir (1934-2016) from Ólafsvellir in Skeiðahreppur unquestionably had the greatest role in saving the Icelandic Sheepdog breed in Iceland by starting breeding work in the sixties in collaboration with veterinarian Páll A. Pálsson at Keldur. Páll A. Pálsson sensed the danger facing the Icelandic dog population and had purebred Icelandic puppies bred from the remaining bitch in Keldur, one of the dogs that Mark Watson had collected for export. The bitch was called Pollý and came from Tálknafjörður in the Westfjords. Sigríður also collaborated with Mark Watson and other parties in Britain who provided her with invaluable assistance and information about breeding. Sigríður then brought two females from Britain that Mark Watson gave her. The breeding stock in Iceland was very poor at that time, but Sigríður managed this extensive project. Sigríður, along with several others, founded the Icelandic Kennel club in 1969. In 2008, she was honored with the Icelandic Falcon Order at Bessastadir for her work in the breeding of the Icelandic Sheepdog. You find a great article in English about Sigríður after Þórhildur Bjartmarz on her website [Hundalífspóstur](http://hundalifspostur.is/2016/01/22/in-memory-of-sigridur-petursdottir/). There is much of interest in old interviews and articles about Sigríður, which say so much about her view of the breed and her breeding goals. [An article from 1973 quotes](https://timarit.is/page/4472538#page/n23/mode/2up): “This (achievement of Icelandic dogs in foreign shows) is not due to me but only to a small degree, said Sigríður, but it is due to the fact that the Icelandic breed is of good quality. It has been preserved by individual farmers who have wanted to keep their own dog breedline and skilfully bred it. We owe it to these few farmers that the breed has been kept pure…the danger of degeneration is always present in such circumstances, but these old people knew what they were doing and they have managed to get a strong foundation without degeneration.” When asked about the character of the dog, Sigríður replied: “The Icelandic dog is very strongly attached to human and is very sensitive to the feelings of its owner. They are very cheerful and follow the disposition of their owner. They are lively and entertaining if the owner is in such a mood, and they are calm if the master is calm. Aggression is not known in the pure-bred Icelandic dog. This quality has been eradictaed in the Icelandic sheepdog, because the farmers have put down aggressive dogs. Aggression is an unacceptable quality in the breed, since it is meant to drive livestock to and from, not to guard against attack as is expected of some other sheepdog breeds…in this way, this good character has been chosen and in my opinion, these qualities and cheerfulness are the strongest characteristics of the Icelandic dog.” In an interview in 1978 published in [Morgunblaðið](https://timarit.is/page/1502344#page/n9/mode/2up), she spoke about the nature of the dog: "The Icelandic is considered the only one of these Spitz breeds living in the countries around the North Atlantic that is not aggressive. Furthermore, the Icelandic dog is very intelligent, even though it is slow to mature....The Icelandic dog is very attached to its human and needs to be around people a lot." In one interview, Sigríður was asked about alspori dogs, which are dogs with double dewclaws on their hind and front paws. In the old days, it was believed that if a puppy was born as an alspori, it would be the best working dog. "-- Is there any truth to this superstition about alspori dogs? \---Maybe this is just superstition like many other things. Another thing is that perhaps people have paid more attention to teaching alspori puppies, because they were sold at a higher price and it was thought that there was more hope for success. Then the puppy has had more opportunity to learn and become a better dog for the job." Source: [Morgunblaðið, 1978](https://timarit.is/page/4472538?iabr=on#page/n23/mode/2up) What it means to breed dogs from a stock with only a few individuals is well expressed in an [interview from 2008](https://www.bssl.is/erfidast-ad-velja-undaneldisdyrin/): “What I found most enjoyable about my breeding at the time was that it was successful. But what was most difficult was when I chose the individuals that I could go on with breeding and had to let certain individuals go, had to put them down. I could not sell or keep more than a limited number of dogs which were not meant for further breeding. This was no 'production', but rather a precise and careful breeding and I had to choose and be careful about what I was doing. It wasn't finally possible to choose individuals to keep unless they were already of a certain age and when the traits, character, size and color could be seen. Everything had to be matched up as best as possible with what I was trying to achieve. The dogs had to be six months old before they could be evaluated and at that point they were already very attached to me.” Sigríðurs words show that she had great responsibility in breeding the Icelandic Sheepdog. She also expressed her concerns that the popularity of the dog could increase too much. She said: "If the Icelandic Sheepdog becomes fashionable then they will start to produce him instead of breeding him."  I myself had never the honour to met Sigríður, but I have a lot of respect for this accomplished woman. I hope that her work to save the Icelandic Sheepdog will never be forgotten and will be kept alive for many years to come! Picture: [Víkan - 1973](https://timarit.is/page/4472538?iabr=on#page/n23/mode/2up)

Advent

Advent

One of the very famous dogs in Icelandic literature is the Icelandic sheepdog Leó from the book **Advent** by Gunnar Gunnarsson. The story of Benedikt's dangerous adventure with his dog Leó and the leading sheep Eitill, on their journey across the rugged wilderness of the north, is considered a masterpiece. **Advent** is based on the true story of _Fjalla-Bensi_'s searching trip in December of 1925. Benedikt sets out on a journey to the mountains in search of sheep that had not been found during the sheep round up in autumn. Benedikt is getting old, he is fifty-four. In the story, he is about to go on his twentieth and seventh search for sheep at the beginning of Advent. He starts the journey on the first Sunday of Advent and with him are his dog, Leo, and the ram Eitill. Benedikt looks upon them as his trusted friends. They are also necessary for the journey because of their sense of direction and ability to herd sheep. Gunnar Gunnarsson (1889-1975) was one of the foremost Icelandic writers of the 20th century. No book of Gunnar's has gone as far as **Advent**, which has been translated into about 20 languages. In Sarpur, the cultural historical database, I came across this interesting picture of _Fjalla Bensi_. It is owned by the Museum in Akureyri and I could order it from there. The picture is by Bárður Sigurðsson (1877-1937) and it comes with the following description: "_Fjalla-Bensi, Benedikt Sigurjónsson born on April 9th, 1876 on skis with a dog and sheep, in the studio of Bárður in Höfða. It is not certain whether these are the dog Leó and the lead sheep Eitill._ _It's interesting to take a closer look at this picture. Much effort has been put into taking up turf and putting it on the floor so that it looks like Benedikt is standing on skis with the view of Mývatnssveit behind him. To the left, Bárður's forge can be seen and to the right, a coffin. Bárður's photo studio was also his forge in Höfða, so he earned a living in this studio, both with smithing and photography._ Reading the book **Advent** has become an annual tradition for many during December and I can recommend reading it now during Advent and dive deep into the adventure and view of life of Fjalla Bensi, together with his sheep dog Leó and Eitill the ram.

Sense of smell

Sense of smell

It's dark outside and winter has set in with the associated stormy weather. Then it's best to rummage around a bit, and today it's a questionnaire about dogs in Sarpur, a cultural historical database, that was chosen. I came across a story about the dogs' sense of direction and sense of smell, which I would like to quote here. It is a man, born in 1012 who writes: "Stories of the wisdom of dogs will be countless, but I lack the knowledge to trace them here, as it would be too long. It is certain that many people who were lost in storms or snowstorms resorted to letting the dog lead them home, and it rarely failed. It often happened that sheep were lost in storms and sometimes survived in the snow for weeks and months. Then it was good to have a dog that could find the lost sheep, and some farmers had them and were then hired for searching. These were dogs of the Icelandic breed. Some of them could distinguish whether the livestock in the snow were alive or dead. One farmer had two such dogs, one only searched for living sheep, and the other for dead." Attached is a picture from October this year.

Books

Books

I love books and for that reason I am incredibly pleased to have some books either about the Icelandic sheepdog or containing material related to Icelandic dogs and their history. In my collection is **The Iceland Dog 874-1956** by Mark Watson which refers to many old books and I find it fun to dig up these primary sources. Some I have found online (in digital libraries) and some I got in antiquarian bookshops, for example **Das unbekannte Island** by Wather Heering (1935), **Lýsing Íslands IV** by Þorvald Thoroddsen (1920) and the large **travel book by Eggert Ólafsson and Bjarna Pálsson 1752-1757**. So is the book **Icelandic Sheepdog** by Gísli Pálsson (1999) in which he briefly goes over the history of the Icelandic sheepdog and then gives an overview of the breeders of Icelandic sheepdogs at the time the book was published. The breeders describe their dogs their breeding is based on and it is very informative to read through this because the number of pure bred dogs is still rather small at this point in time. There are also pictures of the main coat colors of the Icelandic Sheepdog and a name bank in the book. The books by Stefán Aðalsteinsson are interesting because he has researched the origin of domestic animals in Iceland and is often referred to in recent sources. Much interesting information about Icelandic farm animals can be found in **Íslenzkir Þjóðhættir** by Séra Jónas Jónasson from Hrafnagili (1934). In the book **The Dewclaw Puzzle**, Moniku D. Karlsdóttir writes about her theory of the inheritance of dewclaws in the Icelandic sheepdog. I'm sure there is much more about Icelandic sheepdogs hidden in my book shelves that I have not yet found. If someone knows about "hidden" stories in various books, please do not hesitate to let me know and contact me by email at [email protected].

The goal 2024

The goal 2024

About a year ago I started working on the project about the Icelandic national dog and I am pleased with the progress. I have read a lot, both in books and on the internet. I have connected with many people, both at home and abroad, and I find that most of the people I have talked to have a burning interest. I have been collecting stories and pictures and I need to keep finding interesting content in the database. It's a bit slow to get answers from local photo galleries/collections to be able to buy old pictures but I will continue to work on it. Now is the time with the shortest days of the year, which is exactly the best time for me to work on this, and next on the agenda is to set up space on the website to publish the stories I have been given. There is still a lot of work to be done but the goal is set: opening the exhibition in the summer of 2024. I look forward to bringing my ideas about the exhibition into action and of course I will continue to talk about the progress of the project here in the blog along with various speculations and interesting information.

Origin of the Icelandic sheep dog

Origin of the Icelandic sheep dog

It is said that dogs were brought to Iceland in the 9th century by the first settlers, just like other animals, and dogs were to assist with herding and grazing of sheep, cattle and horses, as fencing was not present in this untamed land until the 20th century. Little is written about dogs in Icelandic literature and it is not known what farm dogs looked like in the settlement period, but in the story of King Olaf Tryggvason, it is said that there was a famine in Iceland in 990. It was proposed that most or all dogs in the country should be killed because they were so many that the people could be saved from starvation with the food that went into the dogs. But the farmers did not follow these instructions and the dogs held on to life. The most famous dog in Icelandic sagas is probably the dog Sámur owned by Gunnar in Hlíðarendi, who was most likely an Irish wolfhound. Sources tell us that during the Middle Ages, the Icelandic dog had become a sought-after export item, as a house pet of English ladies of high rank and in 1570 the Icelandic dog was described as being so furry that it was almost impossible to distinguish head from body.  Eggert Ólafsson and Bjarni Pálsson travelled around Iceland between 1752-57 and in their travel book there are good descriptions of the Icelandic dog at that time, they spoke of three types of dogs: sheepdogs, hunting dogs and dwarf dogs. The sheepdogs are described as such: They are smaller than the others, hairy, with thin, short legs. The tail is rounded and the muzzle short and narrow. They are very useful for gathering sheep. They seek the sheep, if directed, high up on the mountains and herd them into a group, where the shepherd is waiting, and track the sheep without biting or otherwise harming them. Some of the sheepdogs are especially thick-haired and curly-haired. They are called lubbar and are considered more willing to learn than other dogs. It is interesting to speculate about the origins of the Icelandic Sheepdog. Some sources credit the Norwegian Buhund, which was brought here by the settlers, but in 1983 the blood of 56 Icelandic Sheepdogs was tested to investigate the breed’s origin. The results showed a clear connection between the Icelandic Sheepdog and the Finnish Karelian Bear Dog. The Karelian Bear Dog is of Russian origin and is one of the so-called Laika dogs, which have erect ears and rounded tail. It is therefore clear that the Icelandic Sheepdog has been brought here from Norway, and the affinity to the Karelian Bear Dog also points to the fact that the dog must have come from the east, just like the Icelandic horse breed because it is descended from Norway and its roots can be traced east to Mongolia. Picture: Icelandic Sheepdog probably from the South Iceland.  From the Photo Archive of Byggðasafn Garðskaga. Author and year unknown.

Dogs banned in Reykjavík for 60 years

Dogs banned in Reykjavík for 60 years

Icelandic society changed rapidly and significantly in the 20th century.  The fishing industry began with the arrival of motorboats, fishing villages were established and urban areas increased in population. People moved from their farms in the countryside to the developing capital Reykjavík. Dogs often followed their owners to their new homes. At this time, farming was still practiced in Reykjavík and the dogs that came from the countryside mixed with the dogs that were already there. As a result, there was a great increase in stray dogs running loose in the streets of Reykjavík and caused trouble and impurities. By 1910, the dog population in Reykjavík had become very large and actions to combat hydatid disease had not yet reached success. These were the two factors contributing to the dog ban in Reykjavík. In order to respond to the situation, Regulation No. 124 from October 26, 1910, was put in place regarding restrictions on dog keeping in Reykjavik.  The regulation specified the obligation of dog owners to mark their dogs with a special Reykjavik brand. Those dogs that did not bear such a brand or were considered stray dogs, dogs that were not visited within three days of being advertised, were declared outlawed and should be killed.  On the other hand, the regulation provided for annual dog deworming and that tapeworm cysts should be buried in the ground. When these measures proved unsuccessful, suggestions were introduced to grant authorities to restrict or prohibit dogs in towns in 1924. The suggestions were approved and law No. 8/1924 was passed to ban dogs in towns and urban areas. Based on this new law, a regulation on dog keeping in Reykjavík was introduced. It stated that no one in Reykjavík was allowed to have a dog unless he had a permit for a working dog. Each dog could be killed unless a permission had been granted for him or he was accompanied by someone from outside Reykjavík. The police had to enforce the ban and hundreds of dogs were killed in Reykjavik after the dog ban was put into place. Most of the dogs were put down in 1948 or 170 dogs. In 1953, 64 dogs were put down and at least 70 dogs in 1954. No mercy was shown to illegal dogs and they were taken and shot. Source: [Vísir](https://timarit.is/page/1180763#page/n11/mode/2up) In 1968, all farming and livestock handling in Reykjavík was banned, thus ending the era of the working dogs. Around the same time, discussions began about the future of the Icelandic Sheepdog, as people believed that the breed was on the brink of extinction. Calls for official participation in the form of subsidies for breeding and saving the Icelandic sheep dog were made. In 1969, two organizations were founded for the benefit of dog lovers and owners: the Dog Friends Association and the Icelandic Kennel Club (HRFÍ). The goal of the organizations was to fight for legal dog keeping in the city, but the main goal of HRFÍ was to protect the Icelandic Sheepdog breed through careful and organized breeding. The establishment of the organisations had a great impact in how the discussion about dogs and dog keeping in Reykjavík developed. The years 1983 and 1984 marked a turning point in the fight against the dog ban and its support by the government.  Two things should be mentioned in this context.  On the one hand, there was an incident in Reykjavík when two dogs were put down on the spot without a trial or law in 1983. See article in [Morgunblaðið](https://timarit.is/page/1580725#page/n47/mode/2up). On the other hand, it was the case of Finance Minister Albert Guðmundsson. Journalist Rafn Jónsson sued Albert for illegal dog keeping after publicly describing Albert's dog-keeping on television. Rafn argued that the public had to accept laws while the upper class kept their dogs untouched. Albert was opposed to the dog ban from the beginning and considered the dog-keeping laws outdated and unjust. After Albert had been sued, he declared that he would rather leave the country than let his bitch Lucy go. The case received a lot of attention both [domestically](https://timarit.is/page/4029413#page/n3/mode/2up) and [abroad](https://timarit.is/page/2235862#page/n0/mode/2up). The case of Albert led the administration of Reykjavík to have to find a solution to the problem. Sixty years after the dog ban was introduced to Reykjavík it was lifted in 1984 with the Decree on Dog keeping in Reykjavik No. 385/1984. Dog keeping was still banned, but an exemption could be applied for. It wasn't until 2007, however, that the dog ban was completely lifted and the exemption from the ban was changed to a permit.  Finally, it is worth mentioning that the current Icelandic laws give local authorities a lot of autonomy when it comes to dog keeping. For example, the Decree on Dog keeping in Akureyri from 2011 states that "Dog keeping is prohibited in Grímsey and dogs may neither reside there nor visit." Grimsey is an island, 40 km off the north coast of Iceland, part of the municipality of Akureyri since 2009. This post only skims the surface of a rather large matter, but I tried to summarize the most important points.

Hydatid disease and deworming

Hydatid disease and deworming

Icelandic people suffered from hydatid disease for many centuries and it was one of the most serious diseases of the country for a long time. It is well known that Iceland has long been considered the worst hydatid disease area in the North Atlantic and further afield - writes Guðmundur Magnússon in Overview of the History of Hydatid Disease in Iceland ([Yfirlit yfir sögu sullaveikinar á Íslandi, Reykjavík 1913](https://timarit.is/page/4911631#page/n0/mode/2up)). It is believed that hydatid disease was initially brought to the country by sick dogs imported from the western countries, especially from Germany. The oldest historical sources indicate that by 1200, the hydatid disease was known in both humans and animals. The cause of the disease is the larvae of several subspecies of Echinococcus tapeworms that use intermediate hosts (f.e. sheep) that contain eggs of the tapeworms and are then infected with tapeworm larvae when the final host (dog) eats the intermediate host's organs that is infected with tapeworm cysts full of larvae. [See more here.](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Echinococcosis) The Danish doctor Harald Krabbe came to Iceland in 1863 and stayed here for research on tapeworms in dogs along with Jóns Finsen, district doctor in Akureyri. They found that 28% of the Icelandic dogs were infected. At this time there were about 70,000 Icelanders and the estimated dog population at the same time was 15-20,000, or one dog per 3-4 inhabitants. Krabbe concluded that the spread and prevalence of hydatid disease in Iceland was mainly due to the fact that here, compared to the headcount, there were many more dogs than elsewhere (Guðmundur Magnússon, 1913). The hydatid disease could kill people and animals and it was estimated that every fifth Icelander was infected with the disease. Krabbe thought that the best way was to reduce the number of dogs and educate the Icelandic people about the nature of hydatid disease and ways of preventing the disease. These conclusions were followed by the Dog Ownership Regulation of 1869 ([_Tilskipun um hundahald 1869_](https://timarit.is/page/4911674#page/n43/mode/2up)_)_ to reduce the number of dogs and the Dog Tax Law of 1890, but it was not enough to improve the situation. It was common practice on the farms that dogs were allowed to lick people's bowls, eat slaughter waste, hang around yards and barns, sleep in sheep folds at night, and drink from people's water containers. From the turn of the century, dog deworming came into play. Dogs were collected together for deworming on certain days and were given worm medication. Dog deworming was done in a house or barn, where the floor and walls were made of stone or other dense material, which was easy to clean. The dogs had to be fasted 24 hours before the injection. It was necessary to make sure that the dogs did not throw up after the injection, otherwise it had to be repeated. After they had finished cleaning themselves with enormous diarrhea while they were tied up in the barn for up to six hours, they had to be bathed in a special cleaning agent before they were allowed to go home. This method was used for a long time in some municipalities, see article in Animal Guardian ([Dýraverndaranum](https://timarit.is/page/4954468?iabr=on#page/n29/mode/2up/search/averndarinn)) from 1 February 1978 . But as harsh as the dog deworming practice was, it led to hydatid disease being eradicated in Iceland in the 20th century and so the disease is no longer found in Iceland. Today, treating dogs with worm medicine is necessary [due to the tapeworm](https://www.vet.cornell.edu/departments-centers-and-institutes/riney-canine-health-center/health-info/tapeworms), but fortunately, the methods are different from before.  The picture above shows the deworming practice in Iceland in the old days. See the full picture [here](https://timarit.is/page/4954468?iabr=on#page/n29/mode/2up/search/averndarinn).

Vaskur of Thorvaldsstadir - the HRFÍ logo model

Vaskur of Thorvaldsstadir - the HRFÍ logo model

Vaskur of Thorvaldsstadir was one of eight dogs that Mark Watson bought in Iceland and moved to California in the fifties to breed Icelandic sheepdogs so they wouldn't become extinct.  Shortly after the dogs arrived to California, a dog plague struck and some of the dogs died. Those who survived had descendants and seemed to not have mixed with other breeds. Watson later moved back to England and took the dogs with him to keep the breeding going. Vaskur survived the dog plague and moved with Watson to England. There he had a big success at the Crufts dog show in 1960 when he became BOB (best of breed), at seven years old. [In an article from February 1960](https://drive.proton.me/urls/4JV6CQVNYM#xVGAiQfZfkSL), most likely from the magazine [Our dogs](https://www.ourdogs.co.uk/subindex/home.php) the judge Mrs. W. Barber is quoted: "Vaskur completely won over me as a good looking medium sized dog, sound and with the essentials of his breed standard clearly defined, he was a happy and friendly dog to meet and appeared to be enjoying his outing." Vaskur was judged "Novice 1" and "Open 1". Here one can see [the breeding standard](https://drive.proton.me/urls/XPXMMA6CHG#mjGHVKziw0wn) of that time that Vaskur was likely judged by. In 1969, the Icelandic Kennel Club (HRFÍ) was founded at Hotel Saga in Reykjavík. 29 enthusiasts of Icelandic sheepdog breeding stood at the founding of the club. One of its goals was to protect and breed the Icelandic sheepdog and the first board agreement was to prepare the registration of the Icelandic sheepdog's characteristics. A picture of Vaskur of Thorvaldsstadir was then the model for the logo of the [Icelandic Kennel Club](http://www.hrfi.is/english.html). The kennel club later got membership of the international dog breeding associations FCI and the Nordic Dog Breeding Associations NKU and today is a collaborative platform for owners and enthusiasts of various dog breeds. [The Icelandic Sheepdog Department (DÍF)](https://www.dif.is/DIF/index.php) was founded in 1979 and operates within HRFÍ as one of its largest departments. The logo of the department is the same except Vaskur is looking the other way. Hopefully Vaskur will be able to be at peace in the kennel clubs logo for the coming times as a representative of Icelands national dog. The picture is from Mark Watsons book _The Iceland dog 874-1956._

Notable dogs

Notable dogs

In my research on the history of the Icelandic Sheepdog, I have come across many interesting stories about dogs and people. I'm trying to structure all the material I've read and gathered to present it on this site and also in the exhibition. For this, I read many things more than once to better understand all contexts. For instance, I just revisited [an article about Kátur from Keldur](http://hundalifspostur.is/2016/01/27/ur-sami-katur-fra-keldum/) where it states: "Kátur from Keldur, ID number 11-68, passed away on December 22, 1978. This notable dog, from whom most if not all Ólafsvellir dogs trace their lineage, was born at Keldur in October 1959 and was thus in high age when he died. He spent the first years of his life in Írafell in Kjós but came to Sigríður and Kjartan in Ólafsvellir in 1964 and remained there until his death. Kátur from Keldur was a much-indulged dog in this large household and enjoyed various privileges, as there were always many dogs there. In the last two years, his health deteriorated, his sight and hearing failed, and he became arthritic. Kátur was a very beautiful dog at his best. Red-golden, with a white spot on his neck, white paws, and light in the tail. He was big and handsome, perhaps a bit too long if anything, but otherwise well-built. His temperament was especially good, and no one doubted his intelligence who knew him. He has a vast lineage. Kátur's parents were Klói from Sellátrar and Pollý from Keldur, and all currently living Icelandic dogs trace their lineage back to these notable dogs. G.S." The picture of Kátur that accompanies the article reminded me of the picture I used in the blog post about Strútur, Kolur, and Mark Watson. That picture is of Kolur, Strútur's father. I started looking into the material Salín sent me about Strútur, and among other things, there is a copy of Strútur's pedigree. There I saw that Kolur, Strútur's father, is not a son of Kátur, but Strútur's mother is a daughter of Kátur from Keldur. Her name was Píla from Ólafsvellir and her mother's name Táta from Keldur. Upon closer inspection, it turns out that Táta, Kátur, and Kolur's mother, named Skotta from Sætún, were all siblings. Look at the picture above for a better understanding! Their parents were, as mentioned above, Klói from Sellátrar and Pollý from Keldur. Klói had four offspring with Pollý, but according to the [DÍF database](https://www.dif.is/hundarnir/hundar_grunnur_einstaklingur.php?id=4582), Pollý also had Snotra. Snotra was a son of Tryggur, who was a descendant of the siblings Kátur and Skotta. Snotra is not listed in the [ISIC database](http://www.islenskurhundur.com/Dog/Details/5097) as far as I know. This clearly illustrates the challenge at the time of breeding the Icelandic Sheepdog from a very small stock of dogs, and it's truly an incredible achievement that it was successful. I decided to include Strútur's pedigree (with thanks to Salín) with this post, and pictures of Klói and Pollý can be found in the [ISIC database](http://www.islenskurhundur.com/Dog/Details/4965).

Pish for thee Iceland Dog! Thou prick-ear´d cur of Iceland!

Pish for thee Iceland Dog! Thou prick-ear´d cur of Iceland!

Yesterday, we welcomed a group of British tourists in our popular program, Horses & Heritage. As often before, the visitors showed no less interest in the dogs than the horses, and they of course received an introduction to Icelands national dog. The group had been to Glaumbær and had received information about the British nobleman Mark Watson and his rescue measures regarding the old farm. I explained to the people the role Watson played in the rescue of the Icelandic Sheepdog, and they were quite surprised that the breed is not well known in Britain and not recognized by the British Kennel Club.  I then told them that the Icelandic Sheepdog was particularly favored by the British elite in the 16th century and that William Shakespeare even mentioned it in the play "Henry V.", written around 1600: **Pish for thee Iceland Dog! Thou prick-ear'd cur of Iceland!** These are probably not the nicest words that have been written about the Icelandic Sheepdog, but nevertheless, they are evidence that the dog breed from our remote island in the Atlantic was known in Britain at that time. Our British guests found it very interesting to learn about the Icelandic Sheepdog and its connection to their own homeland.

Is the Icelandic sheepdog a working dog?

Is the Icelandic sheepdog a working dog?

I was wondering how much people use the Icelandic sheepdog as a working dog. I posted the question on the Icelandic sheepdog department's Facebook page the other day and received a tremendous response in a short time. It appears that the dog is still used around sheep. They actively participate in sheep gathering in the autumn, saving people and horses many steps in the Icelandic highland pastures. They can be sent a long distance away or kept barking by one's side. The Icelandic sheepdog is a herding dog, keeping sheep away from houses, pastures and woodland within a certain radius and thus being invaluable to many. The dog is also used around horses. Some dogs fetch horses from the pasture and drive them to their owners. Stories were told of dogs hunting mice just like cats, which is well-received in rural areas. There was a discussion about the working nature of the Icelandic sheepdog, which is very different from the nature of the Border Collie (BC). While BC dogs herd sheep by running around them and are usually silent, the Icelandic sheepdog barks while working. This working nature suited (and still suits) Icelandic conditions and landscape. Most owners of an Icelandic sheepdog in the city probably want it to bark as little as possible, which leads to a certain tension between the dog's thousand-year-old nature and modern life expectations. But no one wants a dog that barks excessively, which everyone agrees on. Breeders have an undeniable responsibility when choosing dogs for breeding. Arnþrúður Heimisdóttir, who has bred Icelandic sheepdogs since 1998 under the name Fljóta-kennel, provided an informative contribution on her theories regarding the history and breeding of Icelandic dogs over the centuries. I was given permission to publish her segment here: \--- Why did Icelanders have dogs: 1\. To comfort little children, preventing them from becoming paralyzed with fear and loneliness, children who were expected to be shepherds day and night, terrified by tales of trolls and ghosts. To be their friends (since they might be the best dogs in the world to instill trust and courage in people, being friendly and brave). 2\. To drive sheep out of pastures, acting as a virtual fence since people built their farms right in the middle of the best pastures. So the dogs stayed home at the farm and drove away animals all day. I heard in a radio show recently about a foreign traveler's account from the 1800s describing how every farmer had about 5 dogs that chased out roaming animals and horses (since there were no fences back then). The history of Icelandic agriculture tells us that there was immense pressure after the settlement to fence in, using stone walls, to separate grazing lands and pastures. All men were legally obligated to work on this for one month each year. Then around 1200, this was removed from the law as it was too much work. My theory is that people started breeding these indigenous dogs that drove out of pastures, as most/all stone walls soon became unusable. 3\. For gathering and herding in autumn, also during winter time when farmers moved livestock from shelter to winter pasture in often snow and harsh weather conditions. They also helped children/shepherds drive the flock out for grazing and back home. I doubt they've ever herded sheep like Border Collies. At least I've never noticed any Icelandic sheep dog doing it today, but perhaps you can point to other examples. 4\. To help people find their way home in snowstorms, both travelers who unexpectedly got caught in a snowstorm, and winter shepherds who faced the same with their sheep. 5\. To help people find livestock buried in snow after snowstorms. \--- I thank everyone who participated in the discussion, which was both enlightening and necessary. We must never forget what the dog was used for throughout history, which shaped the dog's nature we know today. I personally want to see more Icelandic sheepdogs in the country's rural areas. As the national dog of Iceland, it should be a pride on many if not all farms all around the countryside. Being a farm dog does not exclude it from being a show dog. There are examples of Icelandic sheepdogs that have received champion points and champion titles at HRFÍ shows and also perform very well in herding and driving livestock. Let's be proud of this friendly and diligent national dog and work against prejudices that it's just a useless barker. Show responsibility in breeding and respect the dog's nature. Train it well and let it work according to its nature if the opportunity arises!

Strútur, Kolur, and Mark Watson

Strútur, Kolur, and Mark Watson

Working on this project is both intriguing and enjoyable. I am deeply passionate about it and feel an immense need to collect information and stories about the Icelandic Sheepdog. We need to preserve these stories and make them accessible for the future. The dog is part of our cultural heritage, and it has accompanied the nation through thick and thin for over 1000 years. It is the responsibility of our generation to maintain a testament to its history. I came across a Facebook post related to Icelandic Sheepdog Day where a Canadian woman showed a picture of a dog named Strútur. Strútur was the first known Icelandic Sheepdog in Canada in recent times, arriving there in 1969. I got in touch with Salín Guttormsson, the woman who posted the picture, and we have been communicating since then. Salín recently published an article about Strútur's history in "Lögberg - Heimskringla", and she gave me permission to post it on this website (which will likely be available in the fall). Salín's father had corresponded with Mark Watson in 1970 as he tried to purchase the book "The Iceland dog", which unfortunately was out of print. Watson replied that the book was sold out and no copies were left, but he sent him photocopies of the main sections of the book, along with an revised introduction. In his letter, Watson wrote that there were about 50 Icelandic Sheepdogs in Britain and they were recognized by the English Kennel Club. The Club had recognized the breed in 1905. However, the breed is not recognized today as there are too few Icelandic Sheepdogs in Britain. Watson also mentioned in the letter that he had recently moved two dogs to England which he purchased from Sigríður Pétursdóttir of Ólafsvellir. And Strútur also came from Sigríður's breeding. I am including a picture here of Kolur, Strútur's father. Sigríður Pétursdóttir took the picture in 1969. Salín allowed me to show this picture, and I am immensely grateful to her for sharing the story of Strútur and the correspondence between Watson and her father. Receiving these narratives is invaluable to me.

Happy Icelandic Sheepdog day!

Happy Icelandic Sheepdog day!

Today is the day of the Icelandic Sheepdog! In the breeding goal for the Icelandic Sheepdog, it is stated: "The Icelandic Sheepdog is Iceland’s native breed of dog. It is the descendant of the dogs brought to Iceland by the original Viking settlers (AD 870-930). The dogs became indispensable in the rounding up of livestock and in the daily work on the farms. Their method of working adapted to the local terrain, farming methods and the people’s hard struggle for survival over the centuries. The Icelandic Sheepdog is a Nordic Herding Spitz, slightly under medium size, sturdy, with erect ears and a curled tail. Seen from the side the dog is rectangular. The expression is gentle, intelligent and happy. A confident and lively bearing is typical for the breed. There are two types of coat, short and long, both thick and very weather-resistant. There is a marked difference in appearance between the sexes" Those interested can continue reading in [FCI-Standard N° 289.](https://www.dif.is/UmTegundina/289g05-en.pdf) As usual, we visited the heritage museum in Glaumbær today and enlightened and educated the museum's guests about our national treasure! Happy Icelandic Sheepdog day!

Mark Watson - the savior of the Icelandic Sheepdog

Mark Watson - the savior of the Icelandic Sheepdog

Mark Watson is known to many owners of Icelandic sheep dogs all over the world. Watson's achievements can't be adequately summarized in a short blog post, and he will be given more space on the website and in the upcoming exhibition. But I will still summarize a few points as we approach the Icelandic Sheepdog Day on July 18, which is Mark Watson's birthday. Mark Watson was born on July 18, 1906, in the United Kingdom. His family was very wealthy, owning an estate in Scotland and a summer house in Austria. They lived lavishly in London. Watson was well-educated and studied at the best schools in Britain and on the continent. He spoke fluent French and good German. He traveled extensively and developed an interest in Iceland from an early age. He dreamed of adventures in Iceland and made his first trip to Iceland in the summer of 1937. The following year he traveled around the country on horseback. During these trips, he took photographs and motion pictures, which were shown in London and at the World's Fair in New York in 1939. Watson was very generous to Icelanders. He donated over a hundred watercolor paintings by Collingwood, a British painter who traveled around Iceland at the end of the 19th century, to the National Museum, along with other artworks he gifted to the museum. In the summer of 1938, he came to Glaumbær in Skagafjörður and fell in love with the old farm. Watson wanted to buy Glaumbær, restore it to its original form, and turn it into a museum. But the farm was not for sale. When he got home, he decided to send two hundred sterling pounds to Iceland, so that repairs could begin on Glaumbær. Watson was a great dog lover and was one of the first people to realize that the Icelandic Sheepdog breed was dying out. He therefore decided to save the breed. He had dogs collected that had the typical appearance of the Icelandic Sheepdog and bought them. Later, they were sent to California where he lived for years on the Wensum kennel farm in Nicasio. In 1957, Mark Watson published a book on the Icelandic dog breed. The book is called The Iceland Dog 874 – 1956 and in it, Watson lists all the data he found about the Icelandic Sheepdog. Watson helped Sigríður Pétursdóttir from Ólafsvöllur (who will receive a more detailed review on this site later) to transport Icelandic Sheepdog puppies from his breeding from England to Iceland to start important breeding work. Sigríður Pétursdóttir, along with others, founded the Icelandic Kennel Club HRFÍ in 1969. The aim of the association was the protection and breeding of the Icelandic Sheepdog breed. At the founding meeting, it was agreed to show the Iceland friend Mark Watson the respect of making him an honorary founding member, as he has initiated the protection of the Icelandic Sheepdog, in addition to writing a book about the breed. In early 1973, Watson gave Icelanders a fully equipped animal hospital. Mark Watson died at his home in London in March 1979. Interested parties are referred to the booklet of the Skagafjörður Heritage Museum [Mark Watson and Glaumbær](https://www.glaumbaer.is/static/files/Skjol/vi-mark-watson-og-glaumbaer.pdf) and the article [Mark Watson and the day of the Icelandic Sheepdog](https://hundalifspostur.is/2015/12/15/the-honourable-richard-mark-watson/) by Þórhildur Bjartmarz to learn more about him.

Artwork in honour of the Icelandic sheepdog

Artwork in honour of the Icelandic sheepdog

I commissioned the young artist Josefina Morell, who lives in Borgarfjörður, to create an outdoor artwork for me in honor of the Icelandic Sheepdog. After some deliberation, we decided that she would create a sculpture or a kind of profile picture from rhyolite stone. An appropriate stone was finally found in Bæjargil in Húsafell. The stone is purple-blue and very beautiful. A picture of Sómi was then used as a model, and the result is magnificent. Josefina came and delivered the work to me a couple of days ago. The stone was initially placed on the wall of the turf shed, but the location will be reviewed when appropriate. I am extremely pleased with the work, and who knows, this might be the only sculpture of an Icelandic Sheepdog in Iceland? In any case, I think it's time we had a monument to the national dog!

Old photographs

Old photographs

One of the things I'm going to do in this project is to set up a database with pictures, both old and new, black and white, and colored. Pictures always tell a story about the relationship between a human and a dog. I have received several pictures from photo and local history museums and also some from private ownership. The picture that accompanies this post was taken in 1960 in Þernuvík in Ísafjarðardjúp and shows a dog named Brandur and a boy named Gunnar. Gilla from the Hnífsdal kennel sent me this picture and an interesting story about Brandur accompanies it. It will be told later. **Dear reader, if you have pictures that you are willing to contribute to the database, please get in touch with me!**

To the church

To the church

There is much of interest on the cultural historical database [Sarpur.is](https://www.sarpur.is/). Among other things, it has a large collection on folk customs, and when looking for material on dogs, many curious things come up. For instance, there's a narration about going to church in the old days: "...It could hardly be said that going to church was an exception to dogs joining the journey. Many dogs often arrived at the church, both willingly and unwillingly, and were often a great nuisance, for example, they got into the churchyard and went berserk, as was often their habit as previously mentioned. Some slipped into the church itself during mass and crawled under the benches. However, they didn't like being inside. It was not uncommon for some to lose their most devout attention when the assistant came, took the dog by the scruff of the neck and dragged it, howling, out of the church..." Source: [Sarpur/Folk customs. male, born 1912, Kirkjubæjarklaustur](https://www.sarpur.is/Adfang.aspx?AdfangID=542101) (Icelandic)

Book gift

Book gift

I have been so fortunate recently to acquire the book "THE ICELAND DOG 874-1956" by Mark Watson, which is an absolute treasure for anyone interested in the history of the Icelandic Sheepdog, like me. The book was published in 1957, in which Watson lists all the data he found about the Icelandic Sheepdog from the settlement years to "present day" as stated in the preface written by Watson in 1956. Watson himself funded the publication of the book, and the profits from its sale he donated to the Reykjavík Animal Protection Association at the time. It is believed that the book was published in 500 copies, which is of course not very many, and therefore the book is very rare and valuable today. The book is a gift to me for the exhibition about the history of the Icelandic Sheepdog, and it was Jørgen Metzdorff who gave it to me after he heard about my project. Jørgen breeds Icelandic Sheepdogs in Denmark ([Naskur kennel](https://www.naskur.dk)) and is a great enthusiast of the dog's history. He has researched the book very well and has given a lecture about it in connection with the Day of the Icelandic Sheepdog. Since Jørgen had three copies of the book, he decided to give me one copy for the exhibition. I am very grateful to him for that! The book is indispensable for the exhibition about the Icelandic Sheepdog. [You can read the book here.](https://drive.proton.me/urls/MSZXKPRSBW#NJ3Xh5blzdvJ)

A living work of art

A living work of art

On February 15, 1994, Guðni Ágústsson, a member of Parliament, proposed to increase the respect and prestige of the Icelandic Sheepdog: "The Icelandic Sheepdog is a national heritage and a national treasure of Iceland, it is a living artwork that we must preserve." Parliament concluded by appointing a committee to make proposals for measures to protect and purify the breed of the Icelandic Sheepdog. [The proposal can be read here.](https://www.althingi.is/altext/117/s/0588.html) (Icelandic) Friðjón Þórðarson, former minister and district commissioner, saw the humor both in Guðni's exposition and argumentation and summarized the subject of his speech in a verse that went like this: **Ó,íslenski fjárhundur,lifandi listaverk** **með ljómandi augu sem höfða til réttlætiskenndar.** **Með hringaða rófu og hálsband um loðna kverk,** **Nú heiti ég á þig að komast til allsherjarnefndar.** ## **Happy National day!**

Social Media

Social Media

To build a network and promote a project, it is essential to be visible on social media. A Facebook page was recently set up when our blog site was launched, and I will post updates there about the project and later about the exhibition. The Instagram account is more intended for the daily dog life at Lýtingsstaðir, and those interested can follow us there. We look forward to connecting with as many people as possible.

75th Anniversary Celebration in Glaumbær

75th Anniversary Celebration in Glaumbær

A splendid anniversary celebration was held in Glaumbær on May 29, marking 75 years since Mark Watson donated money to preserve the farm. The Skagafjörður Heritage Museum is thus the oldest heritage museum in Iceland - thanks to this monetary gift from Watson. Mark Watson is, as mentioned in a previous post, also referred to as the savior of the Icelandic Sheepdog. This provided an opportunity to bring Icelandic Sheepdogs to the anniversary celebration, and 12 dogs attracted a lot of attention and excitement among guests and passers-by.

The Logo

The Logo

I think it is necessary to start promoting the project as soon as possible, and for that, a beautiful logo is needed. Sómi had to be in the logo, as he is the beginning of everything related to the Icelandic Sheepdog here at the farm. Since he and the turf houses at Lýtingsstaðir are inseparable, it was decided to include them as well. I commissioned a young woman from the United States who owns and breeds Icelandic Sheepdogs across the sea and does dog-related marketing materials ([greyfindesign.com/home-dog](https://www.greyfindesign.com/home-dog)). Kristine Olivia designed the logo for me based on this picture of Sómi.

The Grant

The Grant

In December 2022, I was informed that my project, The National Dog of Iceland, would be granted a subsidy from the development fund of Northwest Iceland up to 1.6 million ISK. I am very grateful for this, as the grant enables me to work on the project and preparations started immediately in January 2023. Ahead is research work, working on the project's website, marketing actions, writing texts, and collecting stories and photographs about and from Icelandic sheep dogs. I will use this year to prepare for the exhibition and aim to open it in the summer of 2024.

The National Dog of Iceland

The National Dog of Iceland

I began to delve more and more into the history of the Icelandic Sheepdog. Not only to introduce it better to my guests but I was starting to completely fall for this breed. As a cultural anthropologist, curiosity and interest in everything that is Icelandic and unique awakens in me. In the fall of 2022, I made the decision to apply for a grant from SSNV to set up an exhibition about the history of the Icelandic Sheepdog. While I was writing the application, I shaped the idea for this exhibition. I contacted people who I knew had been working for decades to strengthen the image of the Icelandic Sheepdog.  I want to mention Þórhildur Bjartmarz who has collected a lot of material about the dog, given lectures on the subject, and maintained the website [hundalifspostur.is](https://hundalifspostur.is) where there is much of interest to be found. Þórhildur welcomed me and showed me all the data she has collected. We discussed a lot and this meeting with her gave my idea more depth, and I am very grateful to her for this insight and kindness towards me.

 Icelandic Sheepdog Day

Icelandic Sheepdog Day

Post Covid - When life returned to normal, I took Sómi to dog shows and both Sómi and Hraundís to events related to Icelandic Sheepdog Day (every July 18) in Glaumbær. Dog owners from North Iceland often gather there with their dogs. In this context, it's worth mentioning Mark Watson, who is often called the savior of the Icelandic Sheepdog (more on that later). He is also the savior of Glaumbær, where he generously donated money to preserve the old farm. His birthday is on July 18, which was chosen as Icelandic Sheepdog Day. Icelandic Sheepdog Day has been celebrated annually since 2016, and the Icelandic Sheepdog Division of the HRFÍ (Icelandic Kennel Club) oversees it in Iceland.

Horses & Heritage

Horses & Heritage

From the summer of 2021, Sómi and Hraundís started participating in the reception of tourist groups and immediately became very popular in our program, which we call Horses & Heritage. In this program, we introduce the history and characteristics of the Icelandic horse, turf houses as the architectural heritage of Icelanders, and the Icelandic sheepdog. Often, the dogs steal the show and perform their tricks on top of the turf houses. It's safe to say that the dogs always impress the tourists.

Hraundís

Hraundís

In April 2021, I got a wonderful dog, Huldudals Hraundís, called Skotta in everyday speech. When I received her, she was 9 months old and badly injured. She underwent surgery where the hip joint had to be removed. The surgery and recovery process went better than expected and after five months she was almost completely mobile. We need to monitor her closely but she lives a good life today. Hraundís is in many ways completely different from Sómi and it's always fun to watch them. She takes on the role of carefully watching the horses and is good at herding them home and into the stable with the accompanying yelping, while Sómi is more interested in sheep.

The pandemic

The pandemic

In March 2020, the pandemic struck Iceland (and the rest of the world) and people were asked to stay at home. Pictures of Sómi cheered up friends and acquaintances around the world during these strange times, as I had ample time to photograph and post on social media. Very few tourists visited us at home this fateful year, but Sómi charmed everyone who came to the farm. Various marketing efforts were made for our tourist business at Lýtingsstaðir in the summer of 2020, and Sómi played a role in all of them. Gradually, the idea sparked to do more with the subject of the Icelandic sheepdog, but first, I wanted to familiarize myself better with the dog's environment in Iceland. Not easy during a pandemic, but social media provided opportunities to meet other owners and breeders of the Icelandic sheepdog in Iceland. There was also a lot of education through online lectures.

Íslands Sómi

Íslands Sómi

In December 2019, the Icelandic sheepdog, Reykjavalla Íslands Sómi, joined our family. Before him, we had Border Collie mixes, who were also wonderful dogs. Shortly after Sómi arrived home, it became clear to us that he was a gem and could contribute to the project that has been underway here at Lýtingsstaðir for several years: showcasing Icelandic cultural heritage. Sómi discovered the roof of our turf houses as a viewing point just like dogs did in the old days. Sómi and the turf houses immediately became the most popular subjects for photos in the following months.


SOCIALS

CONTACT

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

SOCIALS->

CONTACT->

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

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