Table of Contents
Featured Inuit Dog Owners: Jill and Daniel Pinkwater
Never Let Go: A Pedestrian Experience
Points of View: John Senter; Kathy Schmidt
When a Fight Isn't a Fight
Arctic Brucellosis Update
High Arctic Mushing: Part 1
Book Review: Uncle Boris in the Yukon
Page from a Behaviour Notebook: Do Dogs Have Emotions?
IMHO: Dog Sled Racing vs. Sled Dog Racing
Uncle Boris in the Yukon and Other Shaggy Dog Stories
by Daniel Pinkwater - Illustrated by Jill Pinkwater
reviewed by Sue Hamilton
Former professional dog trainer, author, humorist, and commentator on National Public (U.S.A.) Radio, Daniel Pinkwater introduces the tale of his Uncle Boris, a small time hoodlum from Warsaw, Poland, as a jumping off point about the author's life-long relationship with dogs. According to Pinkwater, Uncle Boris left Europe to pan for gold in the Yukon. During those long stretches away from civilization, Uncle Boris' only companions were his team of malamutes, especially his lead dog Jake, with whom he would carry on two-way conversations in Yiddish. Unsuccessful in his hunt for gold, and later a talking dog act, Boris ends up settling in Brooklyn, New York. A life long dog fancier, "making a profitable sideline of faking and selling purebreds", he brings to his brother a sort of Pekingese. When the newborn Daniel arrives on the scene, Bobby, appoints himself the infant's guardian, protecting him from being eaten during that period of his life when Pinkwater described himself as resembling a meatloaf. According to Pinkwater, Bobby "and the other dogs, taught me what I needed to know about becoming a human being."
Uncle Boris in the Yukon and Other Shaggy Dog Stories is devoted to the accounts, both hilarious and poignant, of Pinkwater's journey to and through adulthood, and the critters that have shared and shaped his life and outlook; the dogs he and wife Jill have owned, among them three Alaskan malamutes and an Akita cross, as well as the hundreds encountered as professional obedience instructors; also Matilda the Wolf and an Inuit Sled Dog named Puggiq, described as the happiest being ever encountered. Currently, the Pinkwaters share their home with Maxine, an aging Labrador retriever and Lulu, a five-year-old Inuit Sled Dog.
Uncle Boris in the Yukon and Other Shaggy Dog Stories is more than just pleasurable reading. Those of us who are familiar with northern breeds in general and Inuit Dogs in particular, will appreciate Pinkwater's keen, if slightly embellished, perception and understanding about these dogs, possibly even recognizing similarities in our own dogs.
With delightful illustrations by Jill Pinkwater, Uncle Boris in the Yukon and Other Shaggy Dog Stories, is recommended as a welcomed reprieve from the generally technical-historcial and humorless type of books on northern dogs we are used to reading. And what an unexpected surprise to find vignettes describing owning an Inuit Sled Dog from the unique and insightful Pinkwater perspective! Enjoy curling up with this gem some cold winter evening after the dogs are bedded down for the night.
* * *Uncle Boris in the Yukon and Other Shaggy Dog Stories by Daniel Pinkwater, illustrated by Jill Pinkwater. 2001, Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-684-85632-8. U.S.A. price $20.00, Canadian price $29.95.
NEW from Ken Pawson, winner of the Dog Writers' Association of America Best Poem for the Year 2000, his latest book entitled Antarctica: ..."to a lonely land I know." - a compelling narrative, often laced with humor, of a young man's experience during the Golden Age of Antarctic exploration following World War II. Ken details life in the remote bases where he and his colleagues conducted surveys, explorations and gathering of scientific data which couldn't have been accomplished without the teams of devoted Inuit Sled Dogs. $28 Cdn $20 US; Whippoorwill Press, Box 206, Inwood, MB R0C 1P0 Canada; ph 204-278-3303 Fax 204 278-3354 email firstname.lastname@example.org; www.whippoorwillpress.com; coming soon to your favorite bookstore and amazon.com.