Hoovering the streets

My dog nearly died today.

In fact, he almost dies quite often. Not by doing anything reckless or crazy. Not by attacking other, bigger, scarier, dogs. Not by disobeying my commands when he’s off his leash. No, just by walking the streets of Stockholm. On an ordinary day, just walking the streets.

Even though he is given ample food, he sometimes behaves hungrily when we’re outside. All dogs sniff, my dog hoovers. And today, like many other days, he hoovered up a small pouch of ‘snus’, which disappeared straight down his gullet.

‘Snus’ is a Swedish derivative of snuff – a kind of moist tobacco product packaged in what looks like miniature teabags. Users put these teabags under their lip and let the tobacco absorb through their gums and into their bloodstream. The tobacco gives a kick since it’s packed with nicotine. Regular usage of ‘snus’ can result in rotted gums, black teeth and gaping holes in the lip. The jury is out on its carcenogenic qualities. Illegal in the EU, Sweden is however uniquely exempt and still produces, sells and consumes the product.

What most people react to when they visit Stockholm is how clean and tidy the streets are.

But have a closer inspection. Dotted around the pavement, it’s not unusual to find small used teabags of snus. The users have simply sucked the life out of them and spat them onto the pavements in a brown mess.

These offcasts are frankly unhygenic and a little disgusting. It’s easy to tramp on them, and get them stuck to the sole of your shoe.

So, message to all snusers, please spit it out into a waste bin. And not in the path of a little canine hoover out for a weekend walk.

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