Прага - Карлов мост

Topics this week: Educational project teaching children to live alongside animals. "Tourist Police" force. Czech national anthem. Listeners quoted: Michael Stein, Pavel Barta, Frederick Johnson.

Before we start with your letters, allow me to introduce a new member of our team. You'll be hearing more of Kay Grigar for the next six months or so. Kay is with us as part of the same programme that Martin Hrobsky or Nicole Klement were in.

Yes, and I'm very excited to be here at Radio Praha (Radio Prague) and I am here through a programme of the University of Toronto which has a centre for Russian and Eastern European studies. I am however from Edmonton, Alberta.

But you speak Czech and it sounds amazing. How come?

Well, I wouldn't say it's amazing but both of my parents were Czech and I've been to Prague a number of times and I truly love the city.

Moving on, we have a letter from Michael Stein from somewhere in Scotland who comments:

Pit bull terrier
"I was deeply saddened by the shocking news that a cross between a Labrador and a Doberman had killed a little girl. My sympathies go out to her family. I love animals and have two Labrador retrievers at home - they are my best friends. That does not stop me from realising that we need to find a way to have such animals under control and pose no threat to human beings, especially little children."

We definitely agree with you, Mr Stein, and I personally am a little sceptic about this new law that is being discussed by the cabinet and in parliament. It would surely help if all dogs were on a leash but in the case you comment on, the little girl was mauled in her family's back yard. The dog was a part of the family and was used to the child, so what happened was, in my opinion, a horrible tragedy. Children tend to be rough with animals, so the little girl could have screamed into the dog's ear, while it was sleeping, or pulled its tail. We don't know.

But we do know that coincidentally, after three children have been attacked by dogs in two weeks, a new project - supported by the Education Ministry - is being launched in which schools will teach children how to live with animals, especially dogs. So far, twenty schools from around the country have said they are willing to try out this new educational programme. The schools have been given videotapes and information booklets to guide teachers in their lessons.

Pavel Barta listens to Radio Prague on medium wave in the Czech capital and writes:

"In one of your Press Reviews, you mentioned that the state was planning to create a new branch in the Czech police force that would attend to tourists. Could you tell us more about this. I'm sure your listeners abroad will be happy to hear the news."

They certainly would but the project is still just an idea that has to be thought out properly. So, if it should work out, it will be a long time before our precious tourists will get the attention they deserve. The idea came from the Czech Tourist Authority, which is anxiously trying to find ways of protecting visitors from abroad from various crooks.

The Authority finds that tourists are still being ripped off by taxi drivers, foreign exchange offices, fraudulent tour guides, and often fall victim to pickpockets, which is followed by endless hours at the police station bringing no result.

It is therefore working on a proposal to establish "Tourist Police" that would be a part of the City Police Force. The Ministry of regional development has said it would take the idea seriously, once it was handed a proposal.

And we'll actually have a report with more details on this idea in Radio Prague's current affairs section next week.

Frederick Johnson from Denmark sent us an e-mail asking what the words in the Czech national anthem, Kde Domov Muj, meant. Well, here's the official translation:

Where is my homeland, where is my homeland?

Waters murmur through the meadows,

forests rustle all over the rocky hills,

spring blossoms glitter in the orchards,

paradise on earth to look at!

This is a beautiful country,

the Czech country, my homeland,

"Kde domov muj?" was composed by Frantisek Skroup (1801-1862) and the lyrics were written by Josef Kajetan Tyl (1808-1856). It was officially recognized as the National Anthem in 1919. That was actually the anthem of Czechoslovakia, which used to be the Czech anthem followed immediately by the Slovak national anthem. After the so-called Velvet Divorce, when Czechoslovakia split into two separate states - the Czech Republic and Slovakia, on January 1, 1993, the two anthems were separated as well, resulting in "Kde domov muj?" becoming the sole anthem of the new Czech Republic.