What is the significance of The Canine Kalevala? Well, to begin with, it's pretty darn significant to the dogs! Ever since the first human civilisations sprang up on this planet, they've been using dogs for companions, guides and, occasionally, food. This state of affairs has persisted for many thousands of years and in this time the dog has remained ever faithful to his human allies. From the vigilant dingo serving as a guide and hunting partner to the Australian Aborigines, to the endurable husky cheerfully pulling his masters through the Canadian wilderness asking no more than an occasional feed and tummy-rub, to the humble house dog proudly fetching his owner's newspaper and slippers each morning, dogs have been an inseparable companion to humans, performing their duties with an overjoyed tail wag and showing a love, faithfulness and desire to please that only a dog could possess. Yet man's best friend, who has never wanted for anything, is now finally having their tale told. The Canine Kalevala is significant because, after all these years, the humble canine is getting back some of what he deserves.
The Canine Kalevala is very significant because it gives the reader an accurate representation of what life was really like for dogs prior to human occupation. It places the reader into an era that was every bit as real as modern civilisation and truly puts the human-dog relationship into its proper perspective. When the story begins we are immediately told that it takes place in a time "when the world was still young" and we are also told that each tribe of dogs had great wizards and shaman and that magic was strong. Traditionally the shaman has been associated with the earth, spirits and nature; often only present in primitive cultures. However, wizards are usually connected with study, scholarly pursuits and magic formulae. The fact that wizards and shaman were able to live together in this society, two strongly opposed philosophies, gives us a profound insight into pre-historical, at least historical by a human perspective, canine society; a society that boasted incredible technology and sophistication, yet was still just as firmly grounded with the earth spirits and nature as any other primitive culture.
After reading The Canine Kalevala, any sound-minded person will have to come to the realisation that religion as we know it must be seriously re-analysed. The first character we are introduced to is the old, grey-furred seer Vainamoinen, the steadfast old Vainamoinen. It was said of him that Vainamoinen was "a seer as old as the hills" and that he was "present even at the creation of the world." As you can see, he was quite an old chap! Then came his good friend Ilmarinen, the skillful blacksmith. It was said of him that he, "at the beginning of time, forged the dome of the heavens." Clearly these two figures seriously undermine everything the Bible said and throw the legitimacy of the Catholic Church into terrible jeopardy. The Canine Kalevala provides indisputable evidence that the Bible was a falsification of the truth; the only true God was a Canine. Is it a coincidence that god spelled backwards is dog? I think not.
The Canine Kalevala is strewn with references to singing and the power of song and it is not the spoken word that carries great magical power, but the song. The strength of Vainamoinen lies not in his oratory abilities but his ability to sing a melodious tune and when Joukahainen challenges him it is to see which is the better singer, not to see who can smooth-talk the most successfully. Later when Vainamoinen builds and plays his wondrous kantele all the inhabitants of the land stop and take notice, it puts the wolves to sleep and "there was not a single hero whose warrior's heart remained unsoftened." Music can truly tame the savage beast. Likewise, Ahti Lemminkainen's ineptitude with the instrument resulted in disastrous consequences.
The Canine Kalevala is also very significant because of what it tells us about the personalities of the animals descended from the heroes of The Canine Kalevala: the dog and cat. When Joukahainen goes to challenge Vainamoinen it is to prove that he is more proficient a muse. Vainamoinen is regarded as being the greatest enchanter so, in striving to beat Vainamoinen, Joukahainen attempts to be the best: the top dog. This desire to be the best is quite evident when dogs are seen fighting for their owner's love and affection, the dog has to feel better, or more loved, than other dogs.
Ahti Lemminkainen also exemplifies traditional behavior but, in his case, it is traditional behavior of the feline species. When he goes to woo the Maiden of the North he stumbles upon a pack of wolves howling at the moon. Mischievously, he pushes them down the hill but when he sees Louhi, the crone of the North and mother to the Maiden of the North, he purrs softly and addresses her as "fair lady". This shows the sneaky and cowardly side of cats, they can be quite tough when there's no danger but the moment there's a chance of danger they act sweet and innocent. Ahti Lemminkainen's attending of the wedding despite not being invited is another example of catty behavior, being the proud nature.
Another significant aspect of The Canine Kalevala is one that is often overlooked by most. Throughout the book, on almost every page, a small, axe-wielding Viking flea can be found. This may seem to be but a minor and irrelevant detail, yet it is quite a significant one. It shows us the relationship that dogs and cats have with fleas; its presence on every page proves without a doubt that fleas are vital to the canine world. Fleas and dogs have something of a symbiotic relationship: the dog provides the flea with a warm, cozy place to live, while the flea provides the dog with a friend and travel companion during times when the dog's owners are absent. In fact, what has been perceived for generations as the dog trying to bite its coat to dislodge the flea is actually the dog making sure his life partner is comfortable, even if it is quite a short-lived life partner.
The final significance of The Canine Kalevala is one which occurs in human society as well; that being the male-female relationship and courting process. When Ilmatar first hears of the Maiden of the North, he is adamant that he will never travel to the distant North but, once he sets eyes on her, he is captivated by her beauty and will do anything to make her smile, from building a great bow to the legendary sampo. He is like putty in the hands of this vixen, as are so many other males upon sighting a pretty face. She refuses to marry him despite this and he is forced to return home broken-hearted. To her this is simply part of the courtship process because, when he returns to woo her again, she is taken by him. Once she sees that his love and devotion for her is true, she agrees to marry him. Ain't that sweet.
To the casual observer, The Canine Kalevala seems like nothing more than a picture book about Viking dogs, yet it is so much more than this. The Canine Kalevala forces us to re-assess our notions of where dogs fit into a human-dominated world, it alerts us to the cover-up by the Catholic Church that has been maintained throughout the last two-thousand years and it reinforces the importance of music on society. More importantly, The Canine Kalevala presents a startling revelation into the cat and dog psyche but also into our own with its portrayal of the male-female relationship. Overall, The Canine Kalevala is truly an important text, providing us with a deeper insight into the nature and history of that most loving and easy to please animal, the humble dog.