Iceland 2008
Guðni Chairman of DÍF with
Arnarstaða Romsa and
Leiru Runa Gunn
Sigríður Pétursdóttir
at Geysir
Sigríður Pétursdóttir
and Guðni Ágústsson
Svend Brandt Jensen,
Chairman of the Denmark
Sigríður Pétursdóttir and
Guðrún R. Guðjohnsen
Click on photos to enlarge
When 8 a.m. finally came, coffee never tasted so good. Everyone welcomed the day with
warm greetings and smiles. Guðrún opened the meeting and we began working on the ISIC’s
bylaws immediately. This was a tremendous opportunity for me to see how our International
community completes such a task. Our club will soon begin the same work.

I learned that ISIC membership benefits include access to club magazines from each
participating country and rights to reprint any articles in those magazines/newsletters.
Denmark’s magazine is quite amazing, a professionally done magazine. Of course, that club
has 550 members and each member pays $70 annually for membership. Some of the articles
were written by Guðrún, Sigríður and Hans-Åke, the third person distinguished by the HRFÍ
as an expert all things ISD. The generous chairman from Denmark, Svend Brandt Jensen, has
volunteered a member of his club to interpret some of those articles for us. We also have an
ISAA member volunteer who will bring some of those articles to our newsletter. This is a
wonderful benefit of membership in the ISIC.
When in Iceland last August, we visited this same spot. However, the Geysir was surrounded
by tourists on that particular day. On this morning, the experience was solitary. It was not
tourist season and even if it was, what insane person rises at that hour and visits Geysir? I
parked the car, engine running, and heater blasting and sat watching as Strokkur erupted over
and over again. The experience of sitting there in complete solitude was beautiful-church-like.
The magic of this land is awe inspiring.

I drove the highway and watched the sun fully enter the sky as it shone off the glass-like ice.
Horses quietly munched crispy grass and looked up as I watched them from my car, their
breath steaming in the cold morning air.

Driving on, I discovered a sod house, abandoned long ago. Who lived there? What was their
story? What animals had been here? When the Icelanders used these homes, the animals lived
on the lower level of the sod house, providing heat for the family above. Forcing myself out of
the car, I walked; crunching ice beneath my feet, noticing each touch, the fencing, the old
stool, broken windows and the many colors one sees when one allows the eye to look closely.
I next met Guðrún R. Guðjohnsen, the person responsible for the ISIC. If you look back in
your Icelandic Sheepdog’s (ISD) pedigree, you may find a dog from Íslands Garða (Iceland’s
Garden) Kennel. Guðrún is considered one of three experts in the world on the ISD. It was a
tremendous honor to meet her.

As more ISIC members arrived, the group spoke many languages to one another and I
learned that although different, they each understand the Nordic tongue. Following
introductions, we enjoyed dinner. Most who were present have known one another for many
years. The cumulative experience related to knowledge of the breed (or the “race” as some
called the Iceland Dog) was astounding. There were hundreds of years of experience,
knowledge, struggle, joy and love for the Icelandic Sheepdog sitting at the table. I must admit,
that at times, it was overwhelming to be in the presence of such people.

Sitting quietly, I listened with every cell in my body as they exchanged stories, reminisced and
caught up on club business from around the world. It was as if I was a beginning pianist sitting
at the table with Mozart or an amateur artist in the presence of Picasso. However, each
displayed such grace and humility that it immediately created an environment of learning.

Following dinner, we were invited to Guðrún’s home. As you enter her house, it is as if
entering a museum for the Iceland Dog. On one wall hangs a painting by Icelandic artist
Baltasar. The painting, given to her as a gift when she left the presidency of the Icelandic
Kennel Club (HRFÍ), is of her male ISCH Íslands Garða Tinni, a dog present in many of our
pedigrees. Tinni means “black like a firestone.”

Guðrún told the story of calling the owners of Tinni to check on him, as she did each year with
every dog that she sold. Sadly, she was told that he was to be put down as he was no longer
wanted. She immediately drove to the home and retrieved Tinni. He was three years old.

When they got home, Tinni would not enter the house and it became apparent to Guðrún that
he had not lived a happy life. She slept with him in the kitchen as that was as far as she could
get him to come into the house. After time, he became a very happy dog and as Guðrún spoke
of him, her deep affection for this dog was apparent. You may have  heard the term “Tinni
spot”. This term came from him. Guðrún said, “He had a black spot on top of his head on a
white bliss.”
One issue came up that day that I had hoped would not. I knew that the United States is the
only country that does not use the FCI version of the standard. Each time I go to Iceland, it is
always discussed. It is a hard topic to avoid. I came a day early to interview Sigríður again and
when I interviewed her, she discussed the issue at length.

There is great international concern about our AKC standard. It is impossible to ignore the
issue. Like us, the desire of each country is to preserve and protect the ISD. However, they
agree that this can only be accomplished by following the same breeding guideline/standard of
excellence in every part of the world.

There is no way to get around the issue since ours is viewed by the rest of the world as
representing a different dog. Gently, they appealed to us to consider utilizing the FCI standard.
They understand that the formatting must be modified to meet AKC’s template, but wish for us
to consider using a “re-ordered” FCI version as our standard instead of using our current
AKC standard. I assured them I would bring the concerns back to the membership.