The Fan Hitch Volume 2, Number 4, August 2000

Table of Contents

From the Editor
Raising Sled Dogs
The Good, the Bad and the ‘Eskimo’ Dog
The Russian Connection
Honoured Symbol Under Fire
Iqaluit Team Owner Speaks Out
The Homecoming
Niels Pedersen, D.V.M:
Challenging Folk Remedies
Janice Howls:
Maintaining the ISD Roots
Book Review: 
Portrait of Antarctica
First Hand Account:
Exploration of Antarctica
Dog Ownership in Modern Society
Baking: Carnivore Brownies
Behaviour Notebook:
 Silent and Induced Heat
ISDI Summit Postponed
Memorable Inuit Dog Encounters

Navigating This Site

Index of articles by subject

Index of back issues by volume number

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Articles to download and print

Ordering Ken MacRury's Thesis

Our comprehensive list of resources

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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.

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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.

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

This photo of Ruff, a nephew of Serius, will be used as
the official photo for the Images of Nunavut.
(Photo courtesy of Ken MacRury)

Honoured Symbol Under Fire

by Sue Hamilton

A headline in the July 28th electronic edition of the Nunatsiaq News read "Town bylaw shoots team owner's lead dog".  One of Ken MacRury's dogs had been killed. There are laws in the Arctic that find such action appropriate under defined circumstances, yet this still did not make sense.  Ken, who wrote his masters' thesis on the Inuit Dog, cares too deeply about his dogs specifically and the breed in general.  How could this have happened?  What were the facts of the incident?

I have to keep reminding myself that the Canadian Inuit Dog as the official mammal of Nunavut is not seen the same way as the American Bald Eagle, the national emblem of the United States of America.  The latter is a wild animal, does not pose a threat to humans and is afforded degrees of protection both as a representative of the country and having been on the endangered species list.  The Canadian Inuit Dog is similar to the eagle in that it is an official government symbol (as of May 1, 2000) and it IS endangered, both in numbers and apparently now by some other sinister movement.  The CID differs from the eagle in that it is a domestic, albeit primitive, animal and that it lives in proximity to human habitation.  Given this, it is understandable that conferring status as a government symbol does not elevate the CID (or their owners) to a position above the law, especially where human safety is concerned.  But what we suspect is happening in Iqaluit is that the "safety of humans" mantra is being used as an excuse for vengeance or for executing (pun intended) someone's hidden agenda.  The issue of laws regarding loose dogs needs to be fairly applied, and the content of the laws themselves should be thoughtfully re-examined.  While it is never OK for a dog to bite a human, one cannot overlook the responsibility that humans must assume for their conduct vis a vis dogs. 

I think something may have been overlooked in the decision declaring the CID as Nunavut's official mammal.  This honor should be more than just ceremonial.  I am getting the impression that the Government of Nunavut (GN) did not consider what steps should be taken to preserve this symbol in vivo.  I am not suggesting that loose dogs posing a clear and present danger to humans shouldn't be, well....whatever the laws now state (assuming they are reasonable).  What I am saying is that GN needs to have a plan to ensure that they don't have to go looking for a different official mammal when the last of the current one has been blown to Mars.  This need not be incompatible with existing hamlet regulations, but it could cover whatever else may be the reason that Ken's dog and others have been destroyed.  Equally important, there should be a plan to encourage the keeping, use and pure breeding of the CID as well as a program to prevent needless deaths due to preventable diseases such as distemper and parvovirus. 

As of this writing, Ken and other team owners in Iqaluit as well as Inuit Dog enthusiasts worldwide are still looking for answers. Dozens of letters expressing shock and grave concern, and asking for details of the incidents, have been written to the media as well as Iqaluit and GN officials.  There have been few responses, and none of them with content  adequate to satisfy worries or offering up the facts sought, although some, like the following, expressed strong feelings of empathy and understanding.  "In light of past experiences we have found with our husky dogs being shot by the RCMP in the establishment of communities within Nunavut, it is essential that here in Nunavut and other jurisdictions must recognize the uniqueness of our dogs." Unsolicited e-mails and phone calls have been received from qallunait and Inuit from hamlets around Nunavut expressing their consternation as well.

And it has now come to our attention that the shooting of Ken MacRury's dog and the suspicious circumstances surrounding it are not an isolated incident.  This has happened to other team owners in Iqaluit. Word is that a variety of contradictory excuses have been given to the distraught dog owners, making them feel they are being targeted for "different reasons".  This is especially so given the fact that a pit bull who attacked a child (who needed 14 stitches to close the wounds), was still alive after its incident. And if the sickening rumor proves to be true that the official shooters are paid by the dog - meaning a bounty on dogs, that the pit bull was not on the  executioner's hit list may point out just how unequal the application of the law is.  Exactly how these people are compensated for their work is being explored.

Those of us outside of Nunavut, perhaps even just outside Iqaluit, can probably do little if anything to resolve what really lies at the heart of the reasons for the deaths of Serius and other working sled dogs.  I am going to venture a guess that it will even be far easier to revamp the existing dog laws in the town.  But I do believe there is something that Inuit Sled Dog enthusiasts worldwide can do!  As I speculated before, I doubt that programs have been considered regarding ways to preserve the CID in the flesh, to keep it more that just a token reminder of the vital role the breed played before the arrival of flour, sugar, firearms, and the internal combustion engine. I am asking every ISD enthusiast to write a letter first congratulating GN for making the Canadian Inuit Dog the Official Mammal of Nunavut, and then asking the very pointed question, "Now what are you going to do to insure it remains pure, alive and healthy?"  NOW IS THE TIME TO ACT!  If you can, please fax your letter.  Thanks.

Mr. Paul Okalik 
Premier, Nunavut Territory
Grinnell Place
P.O. Box 800
Iqaluit, NT XOA OHO
Fax: (867) 979-5833

Mr. Hunter Tootoo
MLA - Iqaluit Centre
Noble House
Bag 800
Iqaluit, NT XOA OHO
Fax: (867) 975-5095

Mr. Donald Havioyak
Minister, Depart. of Culture, Language, Elders and Youth
Noble House 
Bag 800
Iqaluit, NT XOA OHO
Fax: (867) 975-5095


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