Petri Pietiläinen: Koirien Suomi. Kansanperinnettä ja historiaa [Dogs in Finland. Folk tradition and history]

12 March 2015 | Mini reviews, Reviews

koiriensuomiKoirien Suomi. Kansanperinnettä ja historiaa
[Dogs in Finland. Folk tradition and history]
Helsinki: Finnish Literature Society, 2014. 239 pp., ill.
ISBN 978-952-222-540-5
€32, hardback

Non-fiction writer Petri Pietilä is the author of the award-winning book Koirien maailmanhistoria (‘Dogs in world history’), which deals with the general cultural history of the dog. In the first half of this lively and fascinating new book he discusses the dog in Finnish folk tradition, while in the second half he gives an account of the history of the dog in Finland to the present day. Dogs have been domesticated in the North European region for thousands of years. In folk poetry, such as the national epic, the Kalevala, the dog is first and foremost a house guard and a partner in hunting. In Finnish folk tradition, the dog is viewed more leniently than in other countries, and stories about hellhounds are rare. Yet the attitude towards dogs in Finnish proverbs is not an exclusively positive one. Pietilä also says that the dog’s change of status has been linked to its becoming a helper and beloved pet, and today there are more than half a million of them in Finland. In addition, they are increasingly being used in various work and service roles. The book also presents the six Finnish dog breeds, and includes a dog name day calendar.

Translated by David McDuff

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