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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.
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.)
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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.
This does not represent the dogs mentioned in the story
of the killing of 100 dogs in Whistler, BC. Photo: Corel
by Sue Hamilton
During the past three months the primitive aboriginal Inuit Sled Dog (aka Inuit Dog, Canadian Inuit Dog, Greenland Dog) has been the victim of three cases of mistaken identity, largely the result of a lack of attentiveness on the part of the media, but also thanks to individuals outside the media who are either lying or too lazy to do simple fact checking to learn the truth.
At the beginning of February the tragic story broke of the shooting of about one hundred sled dogs belonging to a tour operator in Whistler, BC, Canada, said to be the result of the economic downturn. In no way am I minimizing this disgusting act. However, not to be overlooked were some of the images accompanying several of the online stories reported by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC). The tour operator purportedly had as many as 300 dogs and it is extraordinarily unlikely that any of them were Inuit Dogs, most likely they were Alaskan huskies who are run in the Nome-style (tandem) hitch. But the killing was described as a "slaughter" and I guess that was just enough of a description to whomever was responsible for choosing photos to head the news stories to have selected Inuit Sled Dogs in a traditional fan hitch and taken above the tree line, images that likely showed up when "dog slaughter" was typed in as "key words", given all the coverage of the Qikiqtani Truth Commission and Makivik's investigation into what was widely known as the "dog slaughters of the 1950s-1970s". It is painfully obvious that the mentality of 'any picture will do, the public won't know the difference' prevailed. The sloppiness and confusion this was capable of creating was not lost on some members of the public. My letter to the media clarifying the differences was ignored.
Stupidity, ignorance, laziness - however one wishes to characterize these media mess-ups - worked in both directions. On February 23 Canada's National Post published a rebuttal letter from former Qikiqtani Truth Commission's Madeleine Redfern (she's now the mayor of Iqaluit, Nunavut's capital). Ms Redfern was responding to someone's submission, an apparently subjective and erroneous view of why Inuit Dogs disappeared during the 1950s to the 1970s. Redfern did an excellent job of presenting QTC's position. Pathetically, the National Post didn't bother to do a little "fact checking" of their own when it came to the selection of a photo to accompany Redfern's letter to the editor. Instead of Inuit Dogs in a traditional fan hitch, the National Post used a picture of a team of Siberian Huskies running in a Nome-style tandem hitch! Again I sensed a "who cares, who would know the difference?" attitude. LOTS of us know the difference and it matters! My letter to the National Post has not been answered. Is this sort of inaccurate reporting endemic, like rabies and parvovirus in the North, appearing all too frequently, without regard for consequences, just rolling over here and then moving on to there?
This is not a traditional Inuit Dog fan hitch team. Photo: Corel
Recently, a Healy, Alaska resident had been accused of owning wolf hybrids, illegal in that state (among many others). This person was quoted as admitting "the dogs were 'Inuits'*, a type of wolf hybrid." In the same article, a law enforcement officer referring to 'Inuits' stated, "It is a breed known to be 'wolf-like'." In another media report primitive aboriginal Inuit Dogs and wolf-hybrids were further confused. In addition to a discussion about two of the animals being DNA tested positive as wolf hybrids, a public official in this minute and forty-two second sound bite (KUAC FM 89.9 Fairbanks) is heard to say, "An Inuit Dog is a type of dog where they're cross breeding different dogs together in an attempt to make an animal that looks like a wolf but doesn't have any wolf history." This happens to be the propaganda of United Kingdom groups known as the Northern Inuit Society and the British Inuit Dog Club, who deny that their "dogoids" are really Alaskan Malamutes, Siberian Huskies and German Shepherds crossed with wolves, this despite a Google search which quickly turned up several sites unabashedly admitting that their so-called Northern Inuits and British Inuit dogs are wolf hybrids. Just like AIDS jumped species from non-human primates to humans and caused a disease pandemic, these canid beasts have jumped the Atlantic and it appears they are now infecting the North American dog world, in particular causing this confusion with the primitive aboriginal Inuit Dog, as these last media reports have demonstrated. In today's dog fearing/hating society (just check out all the anti-dog legislation) anyone who owns Inuit Dogs – REAL Inuit Dogs – can be the victim of some overzealous law enforcement official who will "shoot first and ask questions later" under the erroneous assumption that Inuit Dogs are wolf hybrids. This is very serious business! This incident is the most damaging of the three and it too has been vigorously challenged…with some small progress (as of this writing).
Called an "Inuit Dog" by the parties involved
in this case, but with a description that refers
to the 'Northern Inuit' or 'British Inuit Dog'
aka wolf hybrid. This is NOT the one, true
primitive aboriginal Inuit Dog of the
Permission granted by the photographer
All Inuit Dog enthusiasts who may become aware of situations like these are encouraged to speak up. Especially for those who own Inuit Dogs, your action may end up being in your own defense.
*There are many reasons why the use of 'Inuits' to describe real Inuit Dogs is a very poor choice. First, there is no such word. "Inuit" is already pleural. Second, it feeds into the confusion with Northern Inuits and British Inuit Dogs - wolf hybrids. Third, Inuit refers to humans, not dogs. It may be common for dog people to use shortcuts such as "malamutes" (Alaskan Malamutes) or "siberians" (Siberian Huskies), but just as the word Inuit means The People, Malamute (Mahlemiut) and Siberian refer to human beings, too. Simply put, I feel that the common practice of shortcut nicknaming these dog breeds is rude and disrespectful to the humans who, along with Mother Nature, gave rise to them.