The Fan Hitch Volume 11, Number 1, December 2008

Journal of the Inuit Sled Dog International

In This Issue....

From the Editor: Expeditions

My First Winter Trip in Antarctica

Canadian Animal Assistance Team in Pond Inlet

Sledge Dog Memorial Fund Update

In the News

Book Review:  Dog Days on Ice

Behavior Notebook: Transitions

Product Review: The Tick Key

Tip: Flammable Food

IMHO: The Next Great Thing


Navigating This Site

Index of articles by subject

Index of back issues by volume number

Search The Fan Hitch


Articles to download and print

Ordering Ken MacRury's Thesis

Our comprehensive list of resources

Talk to The Fan Hitch

The Fan Hitch home page

ISDI home page


Editor's/Publisher's Statement
Editor-in-Chief: Sue Hamilton
Webmaster: Mark Hamilton
Print Edition: Imaged and distributed by the IPL students of the Ulluriaq School, Kangiqsualujjuaq, Nunavik
The Fan Hitch, Journal of the Inuit Sled Dog International, is published four times a year. It is available at no cost online at: http://thefanhitch.org.

Print subscriptions: in Canada $20.00, in USA $23.00, elsewhere $32.00 per year, postage included. All prices are in Canadian dollars. Make checks payable in Canadian dollars only to "Mark Brazeau", and send to Mark Brazeau, Box 151 Kangiqsualujjuaq QC J0M 1N0 Canada. (Back issues are also available. Contact Sue Hamilton.)


The Fan Hitch
welcomes your letters, stories, comments and suggestions. The editorial staff reserves the right to edit submissions used for publication.


Contents of The Fan Hitch are protected by international copyright laws. No photo, drawing or text may be reproduced in any form without written consent. Webmasters please note: written consent is necessary before linking this site to yours! Please forward requests to Sue Hamilton, 55 Town Line Rd., Harwinton, Connecticut  06791, USA or mail@thefanhitch.org


The Inuit Sled Dog International

The Inuit Sled Dog International (ISDI) is a consortium of enthusiasts whose goal is the preservation of this ancient arctic breed in its purest form as a working dog. The ISDI's efforts are concentrated on restoring the pure Inuit Dog to its native habitat. The ISDI's coordinators welcome to your comments and questions.

ISDI Coordinator Canada:
Geneviève Montcombroux, Box 206, Inwood, MB R0C 1P0; gmontcombroux@gmail.com
ISDI Coordinator USA:
Sue Hamilton, 55 Town Line Road, Harwinton, CT 06791, mail@thefanhitch.org
Behavior Notebook….


l-r: Pakaq, Sunny, Qiniliq and Aqsaq     photo: Hamilton

Transitions

by Mark Hamilton


Last year I kept some notes on the behavior of our dogs in the days following Aqsaq's death. It just seemed appropriate to observe and record these events, as Aqsaq had been a major force in the social structure of the whole kennel, not just within her group. You see, Aqsaq had been the loudest and most vocal of all the females in our kennel, and that is usually a good tip-off as to dominance in female canines. In the next paragraphs I'm working from those notes.

Aqsaq died during the overnight of Friday into the Saturday, June 23, 2007. In the morning we found her lying in a comfortable, curled up sleeping position; eyes open, ears erect, and with her head resting on her forepaws. Qiniliq and Sunny were in the run with her and they came over and sniffed her numerous times while we were there in the run. We put the boys out into our large exercise pen before we dealt with Aqsaq's body.

Littermates Bishop, Siku and Qimmiq were in the run directly across the corridor from that run. They watched intently the whole time we were in there.

Saturday and Sunday Qiniliq and Bishop showed signs of depression. They were quiet, not playful, and isolated themselves from us during exercise periods. Sunny appeared confused and was quieter then usual, but otherwise seemed unaffected.

Monday Qiniliq's behavior brightened. He showed signs of playfulness. He began directing more of his attention during exercise times toward us than was previously common for him when Aqsaq was alive. Sunny also became more playful. Aggressive posturing between the two boys was much less frequent than had been normal.

By Tuesday Bishop's personality had also brightened. Quite interestingly, females Qimmiq and Siku, who shared a hatred for Aqsaq, and she them, began to take more notice of Qiniliq and Sunny through the kennel fencing when the girls were out in the back yard with us. Over time this solicitous behavior was extended to include a couple of "ancient" malamute females, Jassie and Kamiq, also in our kennel. To this day all four of those girls continue to show far greater interest in Qiniliq and Sunny than was exhibited while Aqsaq was alive.
 
By Thursday, Sunny had returned to displaying his usual provocative behavior directed toward Qiniliq. At feeding times he'd run circles around the dog house on which Qiniliq was standing waiting for his food. While running those circles Sunny would bark sharply at Qiniliq, as well as Pakaq and Piqatik in the next run. This was typical of his behavior prior to Aqsaq's death.

We began last year's running season determined to alternate using Pakaq, Piqatik and Sunny at double lead. Aqsaq had been a very reliable, responsive command leader and Sunny had run double lead with her for a season. He had even shown aptitude at the position, so we were hopeful for success with him. Initially we used either Sunny or Pakaq running double lead alongside Qimmiq, our other command leader, a female both boys knew and liked. Pakaq did very well at lead, but Sunny showed many signs of missing being alongside Qiniliq at wheel. After a couple of weeks of alternating runs at the wheel and double lead position we decided to leave Sunny at wheel with Qiniliq where he was happiest, leave Pakaq at lead and begin alternating Qimmiq and Piqatik as his lead partner. We stayed with that plan for the balance of the running season.

Today, seventeen months after Aqsaq's death, Qiniliq and Sunny have built a significantly more stable relationship with each other. Fighting has been vastly reduced, although not entirely eliminated. The boys have developed enough trust in each other to ignore the inadvertent and the minor actions of the other that formerly would have provoked confrontation. When the mood strikes them they can even engage in some rather physical play. We attribute these changes primarily to Sunny no longer being a "blind" follower of Aqsaq. Her power over Sunny was based in the seductiveness of her dominant and aggressive behavior. Sunny now follows Qiniliq, but not blindly as with Aqsaq, due to Sunny finding Qiniliq's more laid back demeanor less seductive.

Living with Inuit Dogs seems to have brought some of the elements of their behavior into our lifestyle. As with them, we always seem to be moving or transitioning from somewhere or something to somewhere or something else. Life has become more of a journey for us, living more in the moment, and unsure of just where or when the journey ends.
Return to top of page