Saga Ísabellu og Loka í enskri þýðingu

Iceland magazine hefur birt enska þýðingu á pistli hundalífspóstsins um Ísabellu og Loka. Við deilum þýðingunni hér í þeirri von að saga þeirra nái til enn fleiri lesenda, enda á hún svo sannarlega erindi til okkar allra.

The great story of a local girl with a rare genetic disorder and the friendly Labrador Loki

The story of a little girl, suffering from a rare genetic disorder, and a friendly Labrador called Loki has been making the rounds in Icelandic social media for the past few days, after a local woman posted a heart-warming story to a local dog website of the unbelievable talent dogs have to make a difference and reach people and children in a way most humans find difficult, if not impossible.

A girl with a rare syndrome and an unusual dog
Ísabella Eir Ragnarsdóttir suffers from Smith Magenis Syndrome SMS, a serious developmental disorder. The syndrome, which is caused by a gene mutation, affects an estimated 1 in 25,000 individuals. Individuals suffering from SMS exhibit a number of wide-ranging symptoms, including mild to moderate intellectual disability, sleep disturbances, behavioural problems, including aggressiveness and self-harm, as well as distinctive facial features.

Smith Magenis Syndrome help dogs
LOKI, GLAUMUR AND ÍSABELLA Ísabella enjoying a calm moment with her friends. Photo/

Sigrún Guðlaugsdóttir has worked as Ísabella‘s support parent since she was three. As a support parent, Sigrún regularly takes care of Ísabella, giving her family and parents time-off and space to rest and catch up on sleep.

But Sigrún is not alone, as she has the help of her Labrador Loki. Loki is not only a dog-show champion but also a dog with an unusual talent.

Uncanny ability to defuse tantrums and create calm
Sigrún says Loki and the Labrador dogs seek out the company of Ísabella and is able to intervene and calm the child in circumstances where an adult intervention would most likely just escalate the situation. She recalls one situation where Ísabella had been unable to fall asleep; despite being given her sleep medication (children with SMS need sleep medication to fall asleep). Ísabella thrashed around in the sofa where she sleeps while staying with Sigrún, climbing around and spinning around.

Smith Magenis Syndrome help dogs
THE GANG Ísabella has bonds with Loki and Glaumur which she has had problems developing with children her own age. Photo/

“She was climbing, tumbling and turning the sofa where she sleeps. All of a sudden Loki, who had been lying on the floor the whole time, jumped up into the sofa with Ísabella, and just lay gently on top of the child. Within two minutes, she was asleep. Her body just seemed to need help calming down so that she could manage to get to sleep.”

She adds that if she had attempted to physically calm Ísabella down, or restrain her in any way, she would most likely have responded with a tantrum. Frequent and violent tantrums are one of the symptoms of SMS. But Ísabella did not protest the dog.

Ísabella is very rarely calm, but somehow Loki and the other Labrador dogs in the house manage to calm her down. Ísabella has participated in dog shows with Loki, running alongside him and standing still with the dog when the dog was supposed to stand to attention. Standing still is not something which comes naturally to Ísabella.

Unconditional love instead of admonishing and scolding
Sigrún argues that some dogs seem born to help and assist. A second younger Labrador Glaumur joined the home a couple of years ago, and he learned from Loki how to help Ísabella.

Smith Magenis Syndrome help dogs

AT A DOG SHOW Sigrún with Loki and Ísabella. Photo/

Ísabella‘s many symptoms and strange and frequently age-inappropriate behaviour make it hard for her to find friends and develop a normal relationship with children of her own age. Sigrún says that when Ísabella plays with other children the interaction is characterized by the other children admonishing her. The dogs, however, show her unconditional love and understanding.

The dogs also help with Ísabella‘s tantrums. In the case of small tantrums they frequently intervene and help cheer Ísabella up. Sigrún also says the sleep problems Ísabella suffers from have improved after she started staying with her. “I have no scientific studies to back me up, or explain this, only my conviction that the dogs are the reason for her calm.”

“Angels don‘t fly,” she says, “they walk”. In this case on four legs.

LOKI AND ÍSABELLA Ísabella resting in the sofa with her best friend Loki. Loki is able to reach and calm Ísabella in a way few humans can. Photo/