From the Editor... The Next Hill
Passage: Lydudmila Bogoslovskaya
Inuit Dogs Indigenous Heritage Confirmed!
Pangaggujjiniq Nunavut Quest 2015
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In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing,
the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.
Theodore Roosevelt, 1858-1919;
statesman, author, explorer,
soldier, naturalist, reformer and
26th President of the United States
The Next Hill…
Last week I received an email from a friend, also deeply involved with aboriginal dogs. She’s been at it much, much longer than I have. In truth she is responsible for opening many doors for me into the world of primitive and aboriginal landrace dogs, for which I am enormously grateful. In her email she commiserated with me on the subject of aboriginal dog conservation as she has been experiencing similar challenges and frustrations vis-à-vis her dog of concern. She openly wondered just how long she could keep up her campaign…perhaps ending it when she no longer had to look into the aged eyes of her special landrace friend.
I wonder about that also. As Mark laments in his IMHO, pondering the passing of a cherished connection to the North with the loss of our very last Inuit Dog (whenever that may be), I too contemplate loosing touch with all the links and people from all over the planet – some I have yet to meet – and across the spectrum of interests in the aboriginal dog of the North should I decide to no longer rise to the challenge and fold this tent.
Undoubtedly there are folks who would be only too happy to see this happen. They seem to confuse my genuine concern with butting in. I can perhaps understand this. They are clearly sensitized to the haranguing, first of animal rights activists over seal harvesting and then the European Union (EU) refusing to lift its embargo on all seal sourced products. (Yet, there have been no indications that the EU is taking a stand against one of their member country’s truly barbaric practice of bullfighting!)
Perhaps I am perceived as an outsider who has no business meddling in northern affairs. As far away (in distance and accessibility given geographic limitations and the cost of transportation) as the circumpolar north is, it is difficult for most cultures/societies to find a curtain to hide behind. This era of the world wide web (WWW) and the internet has surely seen to that! This electronic era is a double edged sword – so much good to offer, yet with a side to all this exposure that one can be seen walking about with one’s fly unzipped, so to speak.
I am not cruising around the WWW purposely looking for unzipped flies. But when presented with issues that arouse my passion for aboriginal dogs in general and those I perceive as a challenge to Inuit Dogs in particular, I become both irritated and distraught. And I just cannot fathom what appears to be a double standard that at one time is fighting the EU for the right to practice the age-old tradition of hunting seals for food, hides and the desire to export, yet at the very same time kicks aside the history, culture and use of aboriginal dogs and the need to honor and sustain this important heritage.
As I alluded to in the March editorial, I definitely do not mean to indicate that the past seventeen years has been a “failure”. I certainly do not believe in Henry Russell “Ted” Sanders’ (University of California Los Angeles Bruins football coach, 1949) iconic sports quote, “Winning isn’t everything; it's the only thing.” . But there’s no denying that these episodes, such as the latest one in Iqaluit and the news of another round of dogs dying of rabies or as a result of suspected exposure to the deadly virus as recently as this past Spring, do wear me down even if these issues could represent sociopolitical differences between where it is happening and my geographic coordinates.
As worn down as my friend sounded in her email by the challenges for the future of her canine landrace, the real reason for her contact was to ask me to contribute material for a book on aboriginal dogs she is writing. Her email gave me a mental image of a person wearing well-worn boots, arms dangling at her sides, standing at the base of yet another hill to climb, wearily looking forward then taking a deep breath and soldiering on.
I guess what I’m saying is that at this point I'm not willing to rest either. There is still much interest and activity revolving around Inuit Dogs in many other orbits not circling the North. These include an exciting, just published (June 24, 2015) scientific research paper on Inuit Dogs, plans to repatriate the Nansen sled pulled by the last British Antarctic Survey huskies to leave that continent in 1994, rekindled contacts with the BAS “Doggy Men”, consulting on a chapter in a book on the history of rabies in Canada and contributing a section on Inuit Dogs for a book on primitive and aboriginal landrace dogs. New friends, new projects seem always to be just over the next hill. The incline may be a little steep, but right now it feels like it’s still worth the climb. I just have to keep some faith that the slope will level out and the a-HA moment of enlightenment will eventually take root in the North before the point of no return.
Wishing you smooth ice and narrow leads,