April 27, 2022

This week, leiðsöguhundadagurinn is celebrated worldwide. Did you know that? "Ég skal hundur heita“ if you did!

"Ég skal hundur heita“ is an idiom, meaning literally: “I shall be called a dog“. In language that makes sense, this means: “I‘ll be damned“.

So what we're saying is:

I‘ll be damned, if you happened to know about this day, celebrated the world over.

We'll get to what this day is in a moment!

In Icelandic you can put together as many words as you like (but be reasonable!) and make one big one, like leiðsöguhundadagurinn, which is a great example of just that. Let's break it down for you - check the vocabulary below realy quick!

Ergo: That long word means the Guide Dog Day! Get it? (The proper name for this day is International Guide Dog Day, just FYI 😉)

About the ban on dogs. The italicized info is taken from here, as we couldn‘t have reworded it better ;)

In 1924, Reykjavik banned locals from having dogs as pets in an attempt to control the spread of a disease. The ban was enforced to minimise the risk of locals being affected by the outbreak of echinococcosis, a type of tapeworm spreading on the island. The virus, passed from dogs to humans in the 1880s, was and still is very hard to treat. Nowadays, owning a dog in Reykjavik is allowed but owners must abide by strict health permits.

Strictly speaking, owning dogs in Reykjavík is still not permitted. In 2006 the above ban was lifted, but people must apply for permission from the municipality, and pay a registration fee, annually if approved. Owners as well as dogs must meet a few conditions in order for their application to be approved.

On a very practical note: if you live in a block of flats, and share an entryway with the rest of the inhabitants, you must get permission from 2/3 of the owners in order to be allowed to keep a dog, or a cat. Other animals, like birds and turtles and what have you, the type that cannot easily wander about any common areas on their own (and stink up the place), you are free to keep without bothering the neighbours for their signatures.

Now, in honour of all the awesome guide dogs out there: Kiss your dog today (and every day, actually) :)


leið (way)

sögu (say)

hunda (dogs)

dagurinn (day)

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