From the Editor: Romancing the Bone –
Unreasonable notions and unrealistic expectations
Kevin Walton Memorial Lecture
QTC’s Community Consultation Tour
An Examination of Traditional Knowledge:
The Case of the Inuit Sled Dog, Part 3
OP Nunalivut 10
CAAT Returns to Baker Lake
New to the Crew: Introducing Adult ISDs to Your Kennel
IMHO: Some Things Never Change
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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.
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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.
|From the Editor....
Romancing the Bone:
Unreasonable notions and unrealistic expectations
The other day I received an update from Madeleine Redfern, Executive Director of the Qikiqtani Inuit Association's Qikiqtani Truth Commission. She has been most kind to keep The Fan Hitch in the loop with the QTC's work. At the end of her email message, she included a famous quote. Oddly enough, she selected a person well known and "local" to me – author, humorist and sometimes Connecticut resident, Mark Twain (1835-1910) who shrewdly observed…
"The trouble with most people is not what they don't know
but what they know for certain that isn't true."
That sure rang a bell for me as, since the last issue of The Fan Hitch, I have had the misfortune to 'bump into' some folks who fell into Twain's category: a team of evolutionary biologists, a book author, a paid contributor to a world wide web "learning center" and, sadly, some Inuit Dog owners (although they don't necessarily call the breed by that name).
Even though my glass is usually half empty, I try – but don’t always succeed – to have the gist of most of my editorials lean towards a positive nature. And for that reason, I really don't want to go into great detail because it will turn into an ugly tirade. (Actually it did. But I decided to trash the first draft after spending hours writing it.) I surely would have expected the scientists to know the difference between a 4,000-year-old primitive aboriginal breed of dog and a toy breed manufactured as a pet less that 200 years ago. (I am massively relieved these people aren't searching for cancer cures.) I raised my eyebrows at the bravery (or foolishness) of an author who wants to take on the subject of polar exploration by dog team without knowing the basics of canine biology or physiology. It came as no surprise, although I found it incredibly cheeky, to read on the WWW a breed profile that, just as the evolutionary biologists had, confused the Canadian "Eskimo" Dog with the American "Eskimo" Dog. This self-described professional writer sourced her information (and for the dozens of other breeds she got money for profiling) from one all dog breed encyclopedia.
There were even scarier types, for they actually own ISDs – or whatever they choose to call them. They have a distorted interpretation of what an Inuit Dog should be and is and they only think, but do not understand how life in the north contributes to shaping the breed's profile. They appear to lack the guts to perform critical self-examination to discover and accept their limitations, professing instead to be doing the best they can do while at the same time ignoring the real possibility that the best they can may not be nearly good enough for the well-being of the breed. Dog shows and breeding under non-challenging, non-polar conditions prove nothing, neither does racing. And the tacit acceptance by ownership, breeding or failure to speak out against the existence of creatures such as the "Northern Inuit Dog" or the "British Inuit Dog" – incorporating the name of a legitimate breed but bastardizing it to hide behind wolf hybrids – shows no real love for the primitive aboriginal breed of the circumpolar North. In this case the word "love" has a perverted definition.
Understandably, not everyone can visit the North. Some folks get the bulk of their information from old books written by people who for the most part understood neither what they were observing nor the culture among whom they wandered, or modern day "fanciers" with no real breed experience, or from "learning center" websites whose goal is to boast listing more breeds than any other website regardless of the quality of their content, or sometimes even from The Fan Hitch. These folks pick a concept here, an observation there, put it all in a paper bag, shake it up and manufacture some kind of alternate universe, a parallel world where facts become "factoids", history becomes myth, behavior is romanticized beyond recognition and all of this is reformulated into the creator's new reality. The good stuff found in The Fan Hitch, admittedly read by some of whom I am obliquely referring to in this editorial, is either ignored, twisted or dismissed as not applying to them. As Twain put it, they seem to believe with absolute certainty what they’ve contrived to be true, even if it isn't. Perhaps their dog ownership has nothing to do with the dog but everything to do with themselves.
Fortunately, this past quarter year was not entirely fraught with aggravating encounters. And many positive and constructive conversations are in this June issue for you to enjoy. I am thrilled to bring you a loooong distance interview with a Canadian Ranger and a Sirius Patrol man. And Mark Schurke explains how to successfully integrate adult ISDs into an existing pack. The QTC has provided a most enlightening review of its purpose and work. I am especially happy to have you learn all about 'The Hunt'. And to put this past quarter into a better perspective, special thanks go to Dr. Andrew Bellars who reports on the Memorial Lecture presented to honor Kevin Walton – a real doggy man who truly always knew "where his towel was" *.
* "More importantly, a towel has immense psychological value... any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through, and still knows where his towel is is clearly a man to be reckoned with." From The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (1978) by Douglas Adams, 1952-2001.
Wishing you smooth ice and narrow leads,