Table of Contents
Featured Inuit Dog Owner: Dr. Lucien Ockovsky
The First Official ISDI Gathering
Nunavut Quest 2001 Diary
The Song of the Glacier
An Arctic "Fish Story"
Defining ISD Purity
Distemper in the North
Brucellosis in Arctic Marine Mammals: A threat to team dogs?
Poem: But, I must be dreaming, that's years ago...
Book Review: the latest Coppinger book
Janice Howls: Who Belongs in the ISDI?
Page from a Behaviour Notebook: Inuit Dog Stereotypes
Frankly Speaking: Zombies
An Arctic "Fish Story"
by Donald Mearns
Having read all stories about the use of dried white fish as trail snack food for dogs on long distance races, I decided that dried fish was the way to go in preparation for a planned winter trip. A very successful overnight fishing trip resulted in three fish pans of Arctic char - over a hundred large fish. The next job was, of course, splitting, gutting, and cross hatching the flesh with a knife to help the fish to dry. After all this work came the job of drying. Using the dog pen as a rack, I threaded line back and forth, creating a nightmare web of drying lines. Then I hung up the fish, spacing them so they would not touch one another. Char do not air dry to a crispy dry fish but to a more rubbery consistency due to the high oil content. Once that task was accomplished, I was feeling pretty good that all my problems over snack food and good trail grub for the dogs for long trips were solved without costing me a penny!
The following day, I headed down to check how the fish and the dogs were doing. As I approached the pen, I notice a huge black cloud hovering over it. I sped up, roaring towards the pen on the four-wheeler, cursing and yelling at the top of my voice. A marauding hoard of ravens had obviously fancied my dog snacks and had set about not just eating the fish, but pulling every one of them off the drying lines! The ravens took off, laughing at me from a safe distance. Fortunately, they had not eaten all the fish, so after a bit of extra work, the remaining fish were hung up once again and this time I nailed a tarp over the top of the pen to protect the fish from more raven attacks.
The next day when I went down to the pen it was raining, not just vertical style rain but horizontal sheets water driving into every one of my drying fish. My project wasn't working out so well.
On day three, the wind started to blow, and when I got to the dogs’ area, I found the whole pen flattened. The tarp had been taken by the wind and turned into a sail, squashing my pen flat. Who said "laugh in the face of adversity"? Being quite grumpy, not me! I rescued the fish yet another time, laying them on cardboard to dry in the shed. That night it rained so hard that the shed roof leaked like a sieve. The following morning I took all the partially dried fish and fed it to the dogs. What a feast! They thought it was Christmas.
I then went home, phoned Paul Landry in Iqaluit and ordered more dry dog food to be delivered on the sea lift.
Editor's note: Donald Mearns lives, works and owns a team of Inuit
Sled Dogs in Pangnirtung, Nunavut, Canada. "Pang" is located in southern
Baffin Island on Cumberland Sound, about 275 kilometers due north, as the