Our kennel name is Kitsuna, which is Japanese for “fox.” (We are breeders of Finnish Spitz, which bear a remarkable resemblance to the genus Vulpes.) This AKC-registered prefix begins every one of our dog’s formal names. It did not start out that way.
In 1971 I discovered, in an encyclopedia of dog breeds, one virtually unknown in this country: the Finnish Spitz, national dog of Finland. It was very similar in appearance to, though a bit smaller than, my first love: the Siberian Husky. Also in contrast to the Siberian, each was a rich, solid orange-red with no markings.
Through my research, I discovered that there were only two breeders of this dog in the US – both Finns. One had retired from the pursuit; the other, in Minnesota, was still active. I contacted this gentleman and learned that his kennel name, taken from a well-established operation in Finland, was Metsamiehen.
At this point I did not even have a Finkie (as they are affectionately called) yet, but I would need a name for the puppy I planned to get. Snug in bed one night, with radio sounds carrying me toward sleep, I was jolted awake by one word from the broadcast – Metsovaara. I was struck at once by how lyrical it sounded, how Finnish it obviously was, and how perfect it would be for my kennel name. I was hearing a commercial for a brand of Finnish cotton.
At sunrise the next day (please know that, ordinarily, the crack of dawn for me is 9 a.m., and I don’t see that unless I have to) I dashed off a letter to the Finnish Embassy, asking for a translation of the word. Dedicated ambassadors that they are, they responded quickly with the answer to my query.
Metsovaara – my lovely, lilting kennel name? In English: “pre-shrunk.”