The Fan Hitch Volume 4, Number 2, February 2002

Official Newsletter of the Inuit Sled Dog International

Table of Contents

Editorial
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Featured Inuit Dog Owner: Ove Nygaard
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An Amazing Lead Dog: The Story of Tatra
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A Mystic Reunion
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Katan, the Greenland Pup
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Oregon Dune Musher's Mail Run
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High Arctic Mushing: Part II
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Bibliography: Inuit Sled Dog Research
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Video Review: Atanarjuat, The Fast Runner
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Book Review: To a Lonely Land I Know
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IMHO: Visibility


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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: http://thefanhitch.org.

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.)


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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; gmontcombroux@gmail.com
ISDI Coordinator USA:
Sue Hamilton, 55 Town Line Road, Harwinton, CT 06791, mail@thefanhitch.org

At the trail head                                                 Hamilton photo

In My Humble Opinion: 
Visibility

by Mark Hamilton

Some people probably consider you and me more than just a bit odd. They think that mushing, something that is such an important part of our lives, is a solitary activity. Of course, that isn't true. It's a cooperative effort, performed in conjunction with another species (Uh, I'm not sure that sounds any better!). We live, or would choose to live if only it were possible, in locations that make it easier to go mushing. Generally, that means remotely. Well, truth is, it's also a lot easier to do exactly as you please when no one else is paying attention. 

The problem is, these days, it seems like someone is always paying attention. Local and regional government agencies periodically pass legislation that often has a profound effect on the way we live our lives. Some of the animal rights groups have targeted dog sledding, which could potentially have a significant effect on us as well. And even your most friendly neighbors may occasionally remark about the noise, the number of dogs you have or the size of the truck that delivers your dog food. 

Unfortunately, there are some less obvious and perhaps previously unforeseen problems that we face as well. For example, some Alaskan Malamute owners are showing curiosity and interest in the Inuit Dog. Inuit Dogs are about the same size as Malamutes and they have enough other appearance similarities that some Malamute owners think the only difference between the two breeds is the uniform marking of the Malamute. Many of these people are involved in dog showing, so it's easy to see a time when all-breed kennel club registration will become an issue for us if these people choose to get involved with the ISD. There is also a secondary issue here as a few other Malamute owners see opening the Malamute stud book and the subsequent breeding of Inuit Dogs into the Malamute blood lines as a cure-all for genetically based problems in their dogs.

Then there is the problem of the popular media. Chief among them right now is Disney. To me it seems there is someone at Disney Studios who actually listens to the complaints of the doggie community every time Disney makes a dog movie. But, then, this same person goes out and finds yet another dog movie project for the studio, apparently based on the premise that "this time we'll make a movie they'll like". 

"Snow Dogs" is Disney's latest effort, and this one is likely to cause problems close to home for ISD owners,  and dog sledders in general. The movie is wildly popular. People who've seen it report that it's actually a good representation of competitive mushing. It is certain to spur interest in both the dogs and the sport. It's also certain to generate interest in sled dogs as family pets. Some of that interest could even be directed toward the ISD. Where demand exists someone will seek to fill it. Animal thieves, opportunistic individuals that often don't know the difference between a Samoyed and a Saluki, put all our animals’ security in jeopardy right now. In twelve to eighteen months, animal shelters will likely experience an influx of northern breeds, and breed clubs will be getting an increased number of rescue calls.

Our efforts to find each other and create our network has also raised the ISD's visibility. Now we have to guard against the negative effects that increased visibility brings. And we've got to accept the fact that our visibility is likely going to limit our ability to do exactly as we please.

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