I don’t have a cute story for you this time, but it is definitely time for me to introduce to you the newest member of my family, and piece of my persona development puzzle. Please welcome Audurs Sumarsól (Audurs is the kennel name, Sumarsól is Icelandic for Summer Sun), known around here as Þórný. Her name, just like Ása’s, is a documentable female name from the Viking era in Iceland. The anglicization and pronunciation of that is “Thorny”. That character at the start of her name is the Icelandic Thorn, which makes a hard Th sound, like in Thor, Thorn, and Thunder. She came to us from Biggs Ranch, a farm in central Alberta that raises not only Icelandic Sheepdogs, but also Icelandic Sheep, Icelandic Horses and Icelandic Chickens. (And Angus cattle, but those aren’t Icelandic.) As you might guess, one of the owners of the ranch is Icelandic. They’re both lovely people who raise amazing dogs.
Icelandic Sheepdogs are another northern/Spitz breed, just like the Norwegian Elkhound. This means they will have pointy ears, a curly tail, and a double coat. They’re also smart as a whip, and have a bit of attitude, though Icies are supposed to be a bit more eager to please than Elkhounds are. They’re known for being very happy, smiley dogs, and that’s definitely Thorny. As you may guess from the name of the breed, they were bred to herd sheep in Iceland – and they have been in Iceland since it was settled in the 800s. Most of the Icies (a nickname for the breed, just like Elkhounds are nicknamed Elkies) you will see have a long-haired coat, but Thorny is going to be a short coat – though it’s still not super short like you would see in a smooth coated breed like a Boxer or Bulldog. She’s still got plenty of snuggly fluff. She’s what is called a “black tri” – they’re born looking black and white but a third colour starts coming in pretty quickly, and in Thorny’s case, that third colour is tan. It’s hard to see in the pictures I’ve taken so far, but she has tan eyebrows and patches on her cheeks, and on her hind legs. She’s got one double dewclaw on a hind foot – double dewclaws are a thing that is common on Icies – and desirable. There’s even a name for a dog with a double dewclaw on all four feet – alspori. These are pretty rare though. Icelandic sheepdogs aren’t the only breed that can have double dewclaws, but in the case of this breed, it’s actually right in the breed standard that they have them, and they shouldn’t be removed. Iceland is a very rocky, mountainous island and I’m sure the extra digit came in handy when the dogs were climbing hills to go after sheep, or walking on snow. I’ve read that the extra toe can even help the dogs walk on snow better, acting somewhat like a snowshoe.
No pictures of her with me in my Viking-era clothing yet, but her first event is coming up next weekend, so hopefully I’ll get some then!