Table of Contents
Editorial: Looking to the Year 2000
Report: The North Baffin Quest
Project: Impress Your Dog
Behavioral Notebook: Tiri's Magic Carpet
ISD News from Norway
In My Humble Opinion: Cause and Effect
Janice Howls: The Spitz Group
Featured Inuit Dog Owner: Jim Ryder
Hudson's Bay Adventure
Book Review: Running North
"Imeq", original artwork © Helge Okland, Norway
ISD News From Norway
In October I received an e-mail from Sue Hamilton with wish for a contribution to the Fan Hitch about the situation here in Norway regarding our Greenland Inuit Dogs. Or shall I say our common Qimmiq?
You see, there was a start to all this, and the "Old mother and father", whatever it is called Canadian or Greenland Inuit Dogs today, were the very same dogs. We do have more in common, than different names can be used for.
There are about 50 ? 60 registered owners of Qimmiq in Norway. There are a lot of owners that are not registered in the breed organization, and a lot of unregistered dogs of course. If we had got all those who have any interest in this breed in one organization, there would be a much stronger spirit for keeping the breed as a hard working dog.
Today we do see a small danger for turning the breed to a show dog, or more like a "family-fun-dog", than the real arctic sled dog breed. I've said that I'll much more like the breed as a non-registered breed, which is being kept for its work only, than a show dog raised for money and personally winnings. There are few who want it to be a pet, and there are just a few who really goes for Qimmiq as their dog for the future. The really big problem is that "old" breeders turn away from the breed, with only concern for the dogs they have in their own runyard.
Because there is little or no interest left in the real working dog, I have been thinking for some time now that I would like to take two dogs, one male and one female, from Greenland for the purpose of getting "new blood" to Norway. At the same time I have been thinking of bringing a Canadian Inuit Dog to Norway. If I do, will it be possible to compare those types of Inuit Dogs ? They do have the same breed standard number in the FCI, so what ? What's a Qimmiq ?
Today we have had the first official "winterday", the 14th of October, and the ground has begun to freeze while the leaves are falling. I can see the first new snow on the mountain tops that are within the view from where I live, and there has also been some few snowflakes in the air at my place for me and my dogs' pleasure. After a long and warm (read HOT) summer, that’s more than welcome for us. Usually we do have the possibility for our first sled-trips for the season around this time of the year, but I think it will take a little bit longer this year. That's not negative, because then maybe the lakes and rivers will freeze before the snow comes, which is not always happening. You all know then what we have to deal with.
The last two years we have had one special race for the pure breeds only. The TECHNI-CAL TRAIL 300 KM. Three hundred kilometers with no help if the trail is covered with snow, wind or anything that can (and does) happen, and no depots between the start and finish. Go out there, and be yourselves. There is a welcome dinner on Saturday evening. That’s all. This should have been an exceptional race for our breed, but as many other things in life this was not easy to hold on to.
Today there are no races for the pure breeds other than the Norsk Polarhundklubb's (NP) Polarhund pet 100 km, and some smaller, shorter trips.
By the way, Norsk Polarhundklubb is the official breedholder in Norway, and our Qimmiq is the smallest (in number) of this club's breeds, with Alaskan Malamute and the Samoyed Dog as the others, and the ones that lead on in most issues. Siberian Huskies do have their own organization, which I believe is a pity, because all the Arctic breeds would stand stronger together in a small "world" as the Norwegian polar dog area.
One positive result of the loss of TECHNI-CAL TRAIL, is the fact that NP’s 100 km race, which had lost some mushers in the last years, gained some new entrants.
On diet: red meat, fat, proteins. Yes we do have these conversations in Norway too. Many of us are using dry food as the main nutrition, but adding extra fat and meat when the dogs are working. The opinions on what is the ultimate feeding is as many as there are mushers, but mostly we all are coming quite well out. There is always an open eye for what the most popular mushers in Alaska/Canada/USA are using, and this might have an influence on what Norwegian mushers do. Follow that leader ………… is a common trap for all of us, but we have to learn to do things our own way. It doesn't really matter if Martin Buser, Jeff King or someone else wins the Yukon Quest feeding in their way, when the dogs here in Norway have their longest trip, and the hardest workout, in a 100 km race. Feed your own way, in your own trust and for your dogs' welfare, has been my advice to those people. If you'll only do as all the others do their things, you'll never learn how to deal with the real life as a dog owner with all that responsibility and trust in handling all things your own way when it comes to terms of necessary. Do not misunderstand me ! I believe that we all have something to learn, always. But very often we can learn something from the new ones who do have their dog for the first time of life, seeing things a little from outside and giving new inputs. As an old obedience instructor said once when he was shaking the mind out of a German Shepherd because it would not sit on his owner's wish, "I've been dealing with dogs for more than 35 years, and you'll sit when you're told to do so." "Well," she the owner, "you see. I'm the seventh owner, and this dog is seven years old, and it may be a little frustrated with the situation." "Congratulations," I said to the instructor, "you've been doing your thing for 35 years, but think of the possibility of doing you're thing wrong for 35 years. And I do believe that you have !" He was not to get the instructor job I was there to offer him on behalf of someone who needed one for their obedience training. You don't learn anything if you learn it the wrong way !
That's the same way as sledding with dogs. We don't learn anything reading books, articles and glorified history sitting by the fire in a warm room with all our need for luxury around us. We'll have to go out there living with the dogs in a working situation. Take part of the things that always are happening during a day on the trail, and take part in common thing called a sled dog team. That's when we'll find out what luxury stands for - dogs who obey our wishes and return our small talk by wagging their tails, or speeding up, or pulling harder. That's the time when we can't compare anything with the pleasure of being dog owners. What's a nice colored ribbon in a show compared to the happiness of a Qimmiq who works ?
Well, speaking of dog shows, I must say that I'm looking forward to the main show that NP is holding in Year 2000. There are rumors that there are coming a lot of Qimmiqs and all of the other Polar Breeds this weekend in May. Usually there are 30-50 Qimmiqs at this show, but I do remember a time when there were nearly 100 together in one small area, and the judge had a job to do, finding the "best example of the breed". If there could be as many as that next year, it would be a great sight. You see, I got to say one thing for the Norwegian group of Qimmiq owners, there are still a lot of great working dog types to see when we look around us, and very often they are the ones who win the shows.
The main problem we do have here is the fact that most of the breeders are not talking to other breeders, and this is a problem for the breed and the future. Almost every kennel has its own type of dogs, some long as trains, other small with no fur, and bones as small/thin as pencils. Some kennels have problems with missing teeth. Some kennels don't sled their dogs at all (!), and some only breed them for pleasure and show and money. What we need in Norway is a common union for the Qimmiq on its own, without any matters from the owners of Alaskan Malamutes and Samoyed Dogs, and then think of the Qimmiq itself as the most wonderful breed.
I have a dream !