Inspired by Iceland started a campaign last year to have ordinary Icelanders get involved with tourists, particularly during the off-peak season. They do this through a series of invitations which I have watched with interest, ranging from meeting the President to experiencing a small aspect of a local person’s daily life.
I decided I would actually like to do one of these invitations instead of just reading about them. Being an animal lover, I wanted to do the one that offered to go for a walk with Mosi the Icelandic Sheepdog. The Icelandic Sheepdog is a very old breed brought to Iceland by the Vikings over 1000 years ago. As you can imagine, their main “ability” is protecting sheep and having herding instincts.
Mosi means “moss” in Icelandic and is a very suitable dog name for Iceland– where else can dogs walk on moss covered lava fields?
I met Mosi and his “mum” Þórdís at the Öskjuhlíð area near Perlan. This is a popular recreation area with many trails and because it is wooded and hilly it feels quite rural and not just like a park. Mosi is a really well behaved dog who was happy to walk either on the lead or go off exploring on his own and would always come back when called. Despite being a breeding dog, he isn’t aggressive towards other dogs and has a quietly cheerful nature. I come across other people’s dogs misbehaving all the time (which I do appreciate is the fault of the owner and not the dog!) so it was really refreshing to meet a dog who wasn’t any trouble at all and is obviously very happy with his life. He’s always on the move and it was only when we tried to take pictures of him that I realised that he doesn’t keep still!
Some time ago people released pet rabbits around where we were walking and there is quite a large rabbit colony now, with the hot water pipes keeping them warm in winter. We did see a couple of rabbits and it was quite strange as I’m used to only seeing “wild” rabbits outside and these really were pet-looking rabbits. Luckily Mosi was distracted by something else at the time and didn’t see them!
I can see why some people still consider Reykjavík to be unfriendly to dog owners. Although this must be one of the main dog walking areas in the city, there aren’t many bins for dog walkers and you are forbidden from taking dogs in some areas, and in some other areas they need to be on a lead. Having said that, we have the opposite issue sometimes in the UK where we are too accommodating to dogs everywhere.
Although I’m not in the market for a dog right now, I would seriously consider an Icelandic Sheepdog if I was. They are a nice manageable size, not too big and not too small. Mosi’s coat was very soft and he doesn’t really bark – my perfect dog. And just look how handsome he is.
If you are interested in reading more about the breed, you can visit Mosi’s breeder’s page here and see pictures of his latest puppies. Mosi has his own Facebook page too. The breed is also available outside Iceland and make very good ambassadors!
If you are going to Iceland and have some time, I would really encourage you to look at what Inspired by Iceland is offering when you visit. I had a great time doing something very simple. Aside from whatever activity you do, it gives you the chance to get to know someone from Iceland that you wouldn’t have met otherwise. I look forward to seeing how long the campaign continues and what new ideas they come up with.
Do you think this type of initiative could work in other countries? How would you show a tourist something of your world?