Table of Contents
Editorial: Defining the Inuit Sled Dog
Featured Inuit Dog Owner: Sylvia Feder
All the Wrong Reasons
Last Trip of the Century to the North Pole
Bering Bridge Expedition - 10 Years Later
Ways of the North
Behavioral Notebook: Watching TV
Poem: Standing Invitation
Video Review: Dog of the Midnight Sun
Janice Howls: Observations
In My Humble Opinion: Work, et. al.
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
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.
All the Wrong Reasons
by Sue Hamilton
When it became apparent that I was going to assume the position of editor of the Fan Hitch, one of the things fixed in my mind was that I did not want to dwell on those who maintained a misguided perception of the Inuit Sled Dog. I thought that I could do more good by focusing on all the people who are doing right by the breed. But in a moment of temporary insanity, I resubscribed to an e-mail discussion group for Alaskan Malamute "fanciers" and was harshly reminded just how far and why that breed has strayed from its primitive origins. As someone said, if we do not remember our history we are doomed to repeat it.
A couple of months ago we received an e-mail from a man in Europe who, offering no information about himself, asked us how much we charge for Inuit Dogs and how he could import them. I politely replied that we were far from discussing those issues as I knew nothing of him other than it didn't appear that an ISD would be happy living in the climate prevalent in his country. He responded with the admission that the dogs would not be for him but for his customers who asked him to find some for them. And, yes, he considered that perhaps his country was probably not the most suitable for an arctic dog. He then went on to inquire about importing Alaskan Malamutes as long as they were breed stock and could be future champions. At this point my hackles were as perpendicular to the back of my neck as those of my ISD, Amaruq, when she confronted a polar bear. Trying to be polite, but firm and direct, I defined him as a dog broker who was more interested in making money, which I found to be morally repugnant. His English was good enough to both understand exactly how I felt and tell me exactly what I could do with my free time... by myself.
Meanwhile, my good friend Janice Dougherty was suffering her own angst over something written about the ISD. "You'd think they were golden retrievers in wolf's clothing!" she howled. "Gentle disposition? Submissive? Not so stubborn as most northern breeds? What are they, all on Prozac? You couldn't even say that with any accuracy about a Pomeranian, let alone a Canadian Inuit/Eskimo Dog! It is so entirely out of character with all 30 to 40 of the rest of the dingo spitz pariah group - BUT IT IS EXACTLY WHAT PEOPLE WANT TO BE TOLD, AND WILL PAY TO HEAR! I am appalled," she continued. "Why don't they understand that the characteristics described are mutually exclusive, diametrically opposed? Whenever people are so emotionally invested in the mythology rather than the reality of dogs, it doesn't matter how sincere or how smart they seem or how much documentation you provide, or how many explanations you give, they will not learn what they do not want to know. And many people are viscerally afraid of learning facts because they really fear it will take away their cherished fantasies."
But wait, there's more! Bear with me while I get this all out of my system. Apparently there is some group in England that is breeding/promoting "Northern Inuits". The person who brought this to light was especially impressed with the big white one with the blue eyes. She did admit to being concerned as to how these "dogs" would do with children (giving the impression she was interested in a pet). Good thing. These so-called "Northern Inuits" are really what we call "dogoids", aka wolf hybrids! Here we go again.
While there is reason to be optimistic about the survival of the Inuit Sled Dog, hard work towards this goal can be destroyed by the barrage of misinformation and people who perpetuate myths and fuel the fantasies of the uninformed. The great showman P.T. Barnum said, "There's a sucker born every minute." Animal shelters are living proof of that!
To disregard what is actively "out there" threatening the existence of the Inuit Sled Dog is akin to burying one's head in the sand. And as much as I would like to ignore all of it, I feel it is as important to our readers to understand the ways of those that would do the breed harm as it is for them to understand the true nature of the breed.
I sure hope I don't have to write another article like this one! But I'm not counting on it.