The day is celebrated big, the whole year has been a jubilee year. I cheer with my boy Piki, my Finnish Spitz, who is more Finn than anyone I know. Finnish Spitz is our beautiful, national dog, the title was given in 1979.
Yesterday morning, like I wrote, was very cold. Piki, this brave, modest trooper, spent the night outside, in his little house, buried in piles of hay. The first thing when I woke up, I walked downstairs, called him, asked if he was cold and wanted to come in. He was not cold - no, he did not fancy coming in just yet. Not a hay stirred in his cabin, he was curled sound asleep, slept tightly through my calling.
When Piki is out, he reports to me everything. Nothing goes on outside without him noticing, loudly getting back to me what ever it is. Outsiders think that this is inconvenient, annoying barking, but to me it means that my boy is taking care of me the best possible way he can think of. (Also, human Finns are very aware of their neighbors, and their doings.)
He cuddles on my lap on the sofa, my big teddy, sweet and soft, but take him to the forest and his personality changes. It is his element. It looks as if his feet don’t even touch the ground as he flies among the trees and stones. It seems like he has abandoned me, but no, that is not the case, he is never far. He is a hunter, mainly birds, but other game as well. Our Tina, his predecessor, fished too. She used to stand in the lake and try to catch fish, the very same way foxes do. (Most Finns, even hardcore city dwellers, have country cottages. Towns empty during summer months when Finns travel to country side.)
Piki is a wise man, Finnish Spitz is an intelligent dog. Piki is attentive, he knows lots of words - about the same amount as an average Finn, Finns are usually quite quiet; don’t have a clue how to small talk. He has studied my gestures so carefully that he most of the time knows before me what I am about to do next. He has situational awareness (very valuable feature in Finland).
Every morning I make warm oatmeal to Ruusu and Piki, I don’t eat it myself, this is mostly just for them. It is a long habit that I introduced when we had Tina. She became sick, needed antibiotics. I was told by the vet that the stomach of a dog is sensitive, same remedies work both in humans and dogs. What better way to protect her stomach was there than to give her oatmeal before antibiotics. I am not sure if this worked or was needed, but during her life, she had to take many times antibiotics and never had any problems. Could be that her stomach was well prepared for them anyway. Nonetheless, she had warm oatmeal for two weeks, was not going to give up this habit that she very much liked. She preferred hers with a touch of butter and milk (both non-lactose). (Oatmeal was highly valued few decades ago in this country, when we did not know all these different cuisines of the world. Rye bread and potatoes got us this far… For a while we did not value our gastronomy, but lately careful studies have revealed that we have some delicacies… like oatmeal, rye bread and potatoes.)
So Ruusu and Piki have warm oats every morning. Ruusu gets hers first, as she is the grand old lady. She always stares at the plate, when I put it on the floor, she is very eager, and waiting is extremely difficult, her gaze is at the plate, not at me and can barely wait for “ole hyvä”, please, go ahead words. Piki, on the other hand, never looks at the plate but always looks at my eyes, never shows any signs of impatience. He is not a self-seeker, in a way many dogs (and humans) are. This willingness to please is very pleasant in daily life and routines. When he has met all his needs; walks, food and little dose of love, he does not ask for more. He is content, independent (as this country has now been for 100 years) and low-maintenance little big man.
I could go on forever, as you know is the case with most cat or dog lovers, they never know when to shut up… but I will summarize Piki, the Finnish icon, in three little words; he is persistent, intelligent and full of sisu. Sisu is a Finnish word, that one cannot translate well, I guess you need to be a Finnish Spitz or a Finn to grasp the real meaning of the word, but it has a hint of guts, stamina, determination and balls buried in it.
Wool with you, and cheers to Finland!