Table of Contents
From the Editor
IGE Expedition News
A Chat About Breeding
Honour & Glory
IMHO: Pets, et al
In My Humble Opinion, Pets et al
by Mark Hamilton
I was sitting on the sofa with an 18 month old Inuit Dog leaning against me and a question rolled through my head, "What makes an animal a good pet?"
I had a turtle when I was a kid. It lived quite a while. It ate turtle flakes and occasionally a little raw hamburger. It floated around in the water or it crawled out onto the rock in its bowl. It didn’t make noise, mess up or soil the house or do much of anything if you picked it up. It didn’t interact with you. It was more like having a pretty doorknob that needed to be fed. It wasn’t much of a pet.
I’ve also provided long term housing and care for a couple of wolves. Unlike the turtle they did make noise, had such an infinite capacity to mess up and soil the house that they didn’t come in, and interacted with everyone and everything.
They were totally honest and highly intelligent. Although they were exceptionally social with humans, at no time was I ever able to delude myself into believing they belonged to me. They made it exceedingly clear that they were autonomous creatures living in my presence and that our interactions were based solely on the strength of our social relationship. Not at all a pet.
I’ve owned Malamutes for twenty five years or so. They’re intelligent, social and interactive with people. They don’t bond to individual people the way a German Shepherd does but I was never looking for that in a dog anyway. They make it obvious that they like being with people and like doing things with you, whether it be work or play. Most are good in the house, a few can even be trusted in the house unsupervised. They’re fun to be around and have around and very much qualify as what I’d consider to be a good companion animal for me. Pets? Yes, they’re my pets.
Tony Cherubini, writer, German Shepherd breeder, obedience judge and part time animal behaviorist once, while speaking about the importance of temperament in dogs, said ,"Basically, you’ve got to be able to live with it." That statement doesn’t just delineate the pet potential in different animals, it goes a lot further. Not everyone could live with Malamutes, in fact, I think far fewer than half of the people who express some interest in having one. Others, who could live with the Malamutes, couldn’t live with the Inuit Dogs. The strong prey drive, acute awareness of pack hierarchy and oral nature of the Inuit Dogs are attributes not commonly associated with your average family pet. They are more of a challenge than the Malamutes.
Still, the question must be asked, "If I can live with them, why do I maintain that they aren’t great pets?" The answer is in the ability of each individual person. We’re all different. Some of us have an aptitude for languages, others may excel in mathematics. Some of us couldn’t cut a straight line with a hand saw if our lives depended on it, yet a few others are master cabinet makers.
The same is true of one’s "doggy" ability. For some it is normal and natural to act in the appropriate way and with whom the Inuit Dog is a good companion, and then there are the majority of people who just can’t. It’s for us to recognize that we are the exceptions, we’re the ones who are different. That means everyone else is normal and we’re, uh, not. People with only average "doggy" skills will be the majority of the people we’re going to meet. We’ve got to remember that when selecting future Inuit Dog owners if we’re going to do what is in the best interest of the dogs and the breed.