A language talented Icelandic Sheepdog in Copenhagen

As most of us know, dogs are very loyal companions. Icelandic Sheepdogs are not inferior to dogs of other breeds in loyalty or intelligence.
When I once travelled from Iceland to Copenhagen, I took my dog Dóni with me.

It is the most intelligent dog I have ever met – and also the most loyal.

After the ship had docked, I went straight to my room, which was located in a hotel on the first floor. I only stayed for a short time, because I still had some things to do.

I didn’t want to take the dog with me because he did not know this town. I locked him in my room and asked the maid not to let him out.

But unfortunately, and without thinking about it, the woman opened the window shortly afterwards. When the dog saw this, he didn’t hesitate for long: he jumped onto the window sill, and from there, he threw himself about five metres down and landed on the paved road – he probably wanted to look for me.

Luckily he hadn’t hurt himself, at least he ran away without looking back and didn’t react to any call. As expected, he could not find me.

When I returned to my room in the evening to find out what had happened, I was sure that I would never see Dóni again. But the next morning, an Icelandic student from the Regentsen dormitory, where both Icelandic and Danish students lived, brought me the dog.

What had happened?

The evening before, two Icelandic students had been out and about in the city and had spoken in Icelandic.

Then they noticed an Icelandic Sheepdog wandering aimlessly on the street until he finally stopped near them and stared at them. The students did not address the dog, but continued on their way home to the dormitory without paying any further attention to him.

So they did not notice that he had followed them inconspicuously. The next morning, he was lying outside the door where he’d probably spent the night. Since the dog had never been to Copenhagen before, it was impossible for him to know where Icelandic students lived.

Neither had he seen either of them before and therefore could not have known or even loved them.

So, how could it be that the dog from all the people on the street in Copenhagen had chosen exactly these two and decided to follow them?

Obviously, he had heard Icelandic from the other languages on the street and decided to follow those who spoke the language he was familiar with.

Maybe it’s too far-fetched to assume that he did it in the hope of finding me like this. But it is safe to say that he recognized the tone of the language and understood many words, which proves an incident that happened later in Iceland:

In a conversation about him, which was about a mistake he had made, he was obviously ashamed, because when his name came up, he crawled into a corner and hid there, although nobody had looked at him and there were no other signs that someone had talked about him – the dog had obviously understood the conversation! The students of that time are now civil servants and live in Iceland. They can both confirm that the story is true.

Tryggvi Gunnarsson

Taken from the article “Treat the animals well“, (original title “Farðu vel með dýrin” Dýravinurinn, 2nd year 1887, 2nd issue, p. 31-33)

The story has been transferred from Icelandic as accurately as possible so as not to change its character.

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