A bit of delving and reflections on the naming

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21.03.2024Evelyn Ýr

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



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