Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Why I love Sweden

  Growing up in Norway I was always drawn to Sweden - the neighbouring country to the east. In my opinion the Swedes always had the upper hand in most fields, compared to the Norwegians. As a child my dad’s work often took him to Sweden, so when joining him on visits there I was exposed to Swedish culture and the nation’s mentality at an early age.

I loved their language (which undoubtedly is the most beautiful of the Scandinavian languages), their way of interacting, their service mindedness, their music, their television, their cars, their roads, their countryside and their cities. I suppose the Swedish way of life - though by no means identical - reminded me more of my homeland (UK) than Norway did. It still does today.

Throughout modern history Sweden has given the world an awful lot, especially when one takes into account that the country’s population is only around nine million. What do you think about this considerable list of world-renowned talent and success? Ingrid Bergman, Britt Ekland, Anita Ekberg, Dag Hammarskjöld, Raoul Wallenberg, IKEA, Ingmar Bergman, Marcus Schenkenberg, ABBA, Björn Borg, Volvo, Saab (Pre GM, naturally), Stig Blomquist, Ace of Base, Erik ”Carlsson på taket” Carlson and Roxette – and this list could go on and on…

Sweden is one of few countries Betty Penn-Bull mentions specifically in her book “The Kennelgarth Scottish Terrier Book”. In the paragraph called “Overseas Connections” she writes: “The Scandinavians seem to have a natural skill with animals, with their care and breeding. Scottish Terriers appeal to a number of breeders and exhibitors, perhaps particularly in Sweden, where there are numerous successful and dedicated enthusiast”. Betty was quite right in her description of the Swedes. Since the first Scottish Terrier was imported to Sweden, breeders there have - based on British bloodlines - refined the type and temperament of our breed. Compared to other countries (i.e. the UK and the US) what the Swedes have done for our breed is exceptional, especially considering that their top year for registrations was 250 (a small number compared to the UK and US) in the mid-70s, and that every single Swedish Scottie breeder has had an active professional live - in addition to breeding many important and outstanding Scotties. What an achievement!

When club chairman Dan Ericsson addressed the participants at the dinner party celebrating the Swedish Scottish Terrier Club’s 40th anniversary last month, he (rightfully) praised several of the guests for their longstanding loyalty to the breed. Many of the guests that evening had been club members since the club started. Dan went on to say that in the dog world Scottie fanciers are one of a kind – in as much as that they are totally faithful to their breed – which is uncommon in the dog world today. 

Looking around the room at the dinner party I couldn’t help but ask myself how many of the club members present that evening would be attending the club’s 80th anniversary in 40 years time. (I’ll be 86 – so I certainly won’t be attending).

My point is: Where are all the younger Scottie breeders today? Will our breed be in the same situation as the Sealyham is in presently, in 40 years time? What can we do to prevent this from happening in Scandinavia, and globally?

I think we need to market our breed professionally – in new and untraditional medias and arenas. We need to actively generate more interest for our breed amongst the general public. (Who will cover the cost of this?) We need to dare to sell puppies to young first-dog buyers. (I don’t think we need more second or third-breed breeders, who love other breeds more. I´m quite the fundamentalist, or perhaps even an extremist, am I not?). Some of these young new first-time owners, head-over-heals in love with their first ever Scottie, will be the future for our breed. As I already said: The breed’s future won’t be my hands – or anyone else´s over 40 for that matter.

The Zeitgeist of today’s world, where it would seem that every other person is, or has, a personal coach, indoctrinates us into thinking that the present is of utmost importance. In dog-breeding we know better. We look to the past when we plan to breed. And that’s why I, genetically, love Sweden. We want every next generation a little bit better - so the past is just as significant as the present for a conscientious breeder. 

But what does the future have in store for our beloved Scottish Terrier?

Photo: Montage

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