in Stockholm, dogs, antidotes to loneliness, are more and more numerous

A dog walked on a leash in Stockholm (Sweden), in June 2020.
A dog walked on a leash in Stockholm (Sweden), in June 2020 (JONATHAN NACKSTRAND / AFP)

In Stockholm, Sweden, the Covid-19 epidemic has an unexpected consequence: there are more and more dogs in the city. Swedes have an obligation to register their dogs, which provides very precise figures. Across the capital County, which has a population of around two million, 140,126 dogs were registered in 2020, up almost 7% from the previous year.

This canine presence can be observed in the parks of Stockholm, where you see many owners with their animals on a leash. Ulf, a walker even gave them a name: “These are the Covid dogs. Because of the virus a lot of people have bought puppies. They feel lonely, they take a dog.” Having a dog can help compensate for a difficult, sometimes impossible, social life, but there are also constraints. Pets in Sweden are very protected and there are a lot of rules to follow. Dogs, for example, must always be kept on a leash, and are not accepted in most public places. Leaving your dog in a car in the summer is also punishable by a heavy fine, such as locking him in a cage, or not collecting his droppings.

Above all, you cannot leave your dog alone in his house or apartment for more than six hours. If you do it anyway, and your dog barks for example, you run the risk of being denounced by your neighbors. How to do when you have to go to work, for example? The only solution is the hund-daggis, the dog day care centers.

These pensions are also the big winners of the epidemic, like the one in the Hornstull district, at the bottom of a building, where we are going. One of the employees opens the door for us: “These are the pictures of the dogs, and their names, like in a preschool. We have about 60 dogs here every day. That’s really a lot, she explains. And all kinds of dogs, from chihuahua to labrador. Here is the room for large dogs: Swedish law imposes a minimum space on us, there we can not put more than six. I take care of them, I feed them, and we take them out for about an hour. “ Having a dog can help with the pandemic, but it comes at a price. This kind of boarding in the Swedish capital, during working hours, can cost up to 500 euros per month.

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