The Fan Hitch Volume 6, Number 2, March 2004

Journal of the Inuit Sled Dog International

Table of Contents

Editorial: Kudos and Cat Calls
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F.I.D.O.: Barry Salovaara and Tina Portman
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Barry of the Midnight Sun
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The Fan Hitch Contributor Wins Maxwell Award
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Ivakkak: Encouraging Purity in Nunavik ISDs
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Games People Play:
Saving the Sled Dog or Saving the Show Dog
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Coppinger Comments Prompts ISDI Rebuttal
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News Briefs
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Media Watch
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Behaviour Notebook: Building a Team
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IMHO: The Sernix, a Fable


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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
Featured Inuit Dog Owners...


With Ermine and Tuyak                  Salovaara photo

Barry Salovaara and Tina Portman

by Barry Salovaara and Tina Portman

Barry and Tina, along with six Inuit dogs: two four-year-olds and four one-year-olds (all from Toadhall), live in a cottage on three acres on Kawagama Lake, Ontario near Algonquin Provincial Park, with its two hundred kilometers of dog sledding-only trails. They hope to have their rookie dogs, and themselves - two rookie mushers - ready for multi-day trips next winter.

Barry became a fan of Inuit dogs almost forty years ago, when his uncle brought one back from the Ungava Bay area of what is now Nunavik (arctic Quebec). Palo was a white male. Barry was fourteen when Palo came bounding down to the dock to greet him by putting both paws on his chest, licking his face (eye to eye) and finally sinking his teeth through the arm of Barry's new Dixie Major Midget Hockey jacket. That weekend Barry and his brother spent every waking moment playing with, wrestling and following Palo through forest and stream near Kawagama Lake.

Fast forward thirty-two years. Barry is living in Oakville, Ontario, a suburb west of Toronto. Barry and his daughter are thinking about getting a northern breed dog. Leafing through a dog magazine they see a section on Canadian Eskimo dogs. The dog in the photo looked like Palo. On his next business trip Winnipeg, Barry visited Michael and Geneviève Montcombroux of Toadhall Kennels, breeders of Canadian Inuit Dogs. Barry brought a photo of Palo so that Geneviève could see this dog from the 1960s. Geneviève thought the dog might well be a pure Inuit Dog

While at Toadhall, Barry mentioned to Geneviève that he'd like to see the dogs pulling in their native element. By the time he got back to Ontario, Geneviève had forwarded the names of several outfitters for Barry to check out. He called a couple before talking to Dave Reid of Polar Sea Adventures in Pond Inlet, Nunavut, located in the north of the Baffin. Barry met Dave at the Toronto Adventure Travel Show, where Barry explained that he wanted an authentic dogsled trip to the floe edge.

The trip, six days by dogsled with an Inuk hunter, was everything and more than Barry could have imagined (read "Barry of the Midnight Sun" in this issue of The Fan Hitch). He lived with subsistence hunters, saw polar bear, caribou, seal and walrus. He ate raw seal meat and fresh polar bear. He slept in an igloo. He experienced many of the systems used for traveling by dog that haven't changed for thousands of years.

When Barry got back to Ontario, he decided that he had to get an Inuit dog. A year later, Toadhall had a litter, and Barry asked if a non-aggressive female would suit a suburban area. He and Geneviève decided that it might work so he drove from Toronto to Winnipeg to collect up his twelve-week-old girl. But Tuqpiq had really bonded with her brother Unuma, so Barry left with two dogs instead of one!


Barry at Toadhall    Montcombroux photo

A year-and-a-half later, after complaints from neighbors and visits from the Oakville authorities, Barry and Geneviève decided that he should board his dogs at Toadhall until he could relocate to a better environment for them. It was tough taking them back. Tuqpik and Unuma remained at Toadhall for two years, and Barry visited them every couple of months. Even while living at Toadhall, Barry's dogs remained bonded to him. They remembered the games and the tummy scratching and got excited when they heard his whistle.

Barry joked with Geneviève that he needed to find a woman to live with him in his family cottage, someone who enjoyed the outdoors and who would be happy to take care of the dogs when Barry was on his frequent business trips. Well, Geneviève came to the rescue again. Tina Portman knew Michael and Geneviève through their writing careers. Tina writes science and nature articles, and she'd started spending time at Whippoorwill Press/Toadhall to learn about the publishing business. That's where Barry and Tina met. After they started seeing each other, Geneviève predicted “They'll  be headed for a cabin in the woods with a bunch of sled dogs.”  And sure enough…

Barry and Tina decided to live together at Barry's cottage, on Kawagama Lake. While in the process of making plans to move Tina to the cabin along with "Kobi" her large Munsterlander hunting dog, and Tuqpiq and Unuma from Toadhall, they watched Dogs of the Midnight Sun. Realizing that if they wanted to go on overnight dog sledding trips, they'd need more dogs. So they talked to Geneviève who, after some deliberation, offered them four one-year-old littermates. Barry and Tina moved into the cottage in November 2003, built a chain link pen, and after Christmas brought all six Inuit dogs plus Kobi, to their new home in a half-ton Dodge pick-up.

Now Barry and Tina have brothers Anernek (which means angel - he’s a sweetie but he’s no angel), Pitsiak (handsome, and he is), Tuyok (strong going forward. There couldn't be a better name for him. He is a solid and consistent puller. He really is "born to pull".) and sister Ermine (Smart and alert and affectionate, she's already showing skill at leading and picking trails.); and finally, Tuqpiq (snow blowing) and Unuma (silent night) are with Barry all the time.

Having these six Inuit Dogs has been fun and challenging. They are fed the Toadhall meat-organ meat-fat-rice diet. The littermates are still in their own pen, and they have undergone a change in boss with the accompanying fighting. With advice from Paul Schurke and Geneviève, Barry and Tina have been working at the challenging task of training the dogs. They run them every other day on the trails and roads near the cottage, or on the frozen lake right out the door. They plan on training all six dogs to run as one team for camping trips in Algonquin Park, and then hopefully go on extended trips into northern Ontario and Manitoba.

Each of the Inuit dogs has a distinct personality. Barry and Tina believe spending time with them is like reading a book. Each time they go out with their dogs there's a different sentence and a different chapter. The couple looks forward to the readings in the years ahead.

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