Flat Earth: No bite, twice shy

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The Independent Online
'VOV, vov.' That, as of course you know, is 'Woof, woof' in Swedish, the sound Swedish guard dogs make when they meet burglars. Or, it turns out, do not make when they meet burglars. Last Sunday's robbery of paintings worth pounds 36m from Stockholm's Museum of Modern Art brought this canine problem to light. The guard dog on patrol during the robbery didn't raise a whimper.

The Swedish Iceberg in my office tells us that the cause is clear. Sweden's dogs are apparently finding it as hard as the country's human beings to adjust to life without the nanny state. In the old days, a dog's life was one of strict regulation: it was registered in one place, could exercise in another, was allowed to bark only at certain times and could mate only when it had a permit. Take away all that, she says, and the dog, like many people in Sweden today, is lost. The lesson to be learned from the great art heist is that the Swedish goverment may have to launch a crash programme to teach dogs to bark.

Across the Kattegat in Denmark, it's the dog that's gone missing, not the paintings. Last week half the country turned out to hunt for the Queen's missing dachshund, Zenobe. No doubt also fearing the collapse of the welfare system, Zenobe disappeared into the forests north of Copenhagen three weeks ago, and hasn't been seen since.