The Fan Hitch Volume 2, Number 2, February 2000

Official Newsletter of the Inuit Sled Dog International

Table of Contents

The Bigger Picture
Featured Inuit Dog Owner: 
Paul Landry
Book Reviews:
On Thin Ice
Of Dogs and Men
Poem: Brave Little Heart
Janice Howls: 
Hypothyroid Disease
Fan Hitch Contributor Receives Writing Award
Expedition News: 
The Thule 2000
In My Humble Opinion: 
Traditional Advice
The Nunavut Quest 2000
Ihe ISDVMA Meeting

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

Editor's/Publisher's Statement
Editor-in-Chief: Sue Hamilton
Webmaster: Mark Hamilton
Print Edition: Imaged and distributed by the IPL students of the Ulluriaq School, Kangiqsualujjuaq, Nunavik
The Fan Hitch, Journal of the Inuit Sled Dog International, is published four times a year. It is available at no cost online at:

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.)

The Fan Hitch
welcomes your letters, stories, comments and suggestions. The editorial staff reserves the right to edit submissions used for publication.

Contents of The Fan Hitch are protected by international copyright laws. No photo, drawing or text may be reproduced in any form without written consent. Webmasters please note: written consent is necessary before linking this site to yours! Please forward requests to Sue Hamilton, 55 Town Line Rd., Harwinton, Connecticut  06791, USA or

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.

ISDI Coordinator Canada:
Geneviève Montcombroux, Box 206, Inwood, MB R0C 1P0;
ISDI Coordinator USA:
Sue Hamilton, 55 Town Line Road, Harwinton, CT 06791,

In My Humble Opinion: Traditional Advice

by Mark Hamilton

Twenty five years of owning, breeding and raising Alaskan Malamutes was not adequate preparation for the experience of having sixteen ISD puppies (litters of 6, then 10, two weeks apart) running loose in our backyard. First there was the issue of just keeping track of them all. Then we simply stared in disbelief when our small herd of puppies began ripping up clumps of grass and stripping the bark off of trees. It was the aggressiveness of their play however, both within the litters and in our larger play groups, that shocked us and for which we found ourselves totally unprepared. We decided to follow the same advice we've offered to others so many times in the past, we called the breeder. 

"Jayko, the puppies are fighting. I mean, this is serious stuff, not play. Tiri's pups aren't even four weeks old and they're grabbing each other by the scruff of the neck and growling and shaking their head's violently. They don't stop until the other one is shrieking. Amaruq's pups are two weeks older and quite a bit larger, now they're bullying Tiri's pups. What do we do?" 

With a chuckle Jayko responded, “Let them fight. They can't kill each other at this age." At the time we took his admonition to mean, "Oh, it's nothing to worry about, they won't do any permanent damage to each other."  Now, we realize he was saying so much more. 

That is often the case with "traditional wisdom". Simple sounding statements hold a depth and breadth of information that is easily overlooked at the time. Another of Jayko's pieces of advice will help illustrate this point, "Don't feed them too much meat, their legs will be too short." 

Well, we accepted that one at face value, and since the pups' primary food source was EAGLE POWER PACK we didn't worry over the point. Later we mentioned Jayko's advice to the chief veterinarian at EAGLE, Dr. Al Townsend. His immediate response was that it was very sound guidance as too much meat could throw off the calcium/phosphorous ratio which would result in short legs. The thing is, at the time we didn't realize Jayko was warning us to be sure to feed a balanced diet. 

Similarly, an ISD in the north learns from the start that its job in the contract between human and dog is to supply the 
 means of locomotion. Their natural instinct to pull is reinforced as appropriate behavior.  Arctic mushers don't encourage bad pulling habits by “pedaling” or running along side their komotik. I well remember several times in Greenland when, faced with a long and steep uphill climb, we offered to get off the komotik to lighten the load for the dogs. Always the answer was quite emphatic that the dogs would pull us up, and of course they did. Now on reflection it sounds a lot to me like Jamie Nelson's advice that you need to teach your dogs to pull. These days we realize how much more Jayko was saying when he advised us to "let them fight". He was telling us this is a breed driven to established itself within the hierarchy of dominance within their pack. They must find their place and defend that position. Let them establish the ground rules while they are incapable of doing extreme damage to each other, because if you don't let them do it when they’re little, you won't like the consequences when they do it later. 

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