|Featured Inuit Dog Owners.....
Barbo, Jan Eric and Goliat enjoying each other's
Jan Erik and Barbro Engebretsen
TFH: Where do you live?
We live about twenty Scandinavian miles (each Scandinavian mile equals
six English miles) north-east of Oslo on the Swedish side of the border
in a very small village called Lovstaholm, with lots of lakes and forest,
plenty of roads for training dogs. The climate is sub arctic and arctic.
TFH: Tell us about yourselves?
I am a Norwegian born former professional offshore and salvage diver,
now retired. My wife Barbro comes from Gothenburg, Sweden. We have been
married for about twenty-three years. We are members of the Swedish
Polar Dog Club.
TFH: How long have you owned sled
For about ten years.
TFH: Were Inuit Dogs the first
(or only) breed you chose?
No, because of living in a big town (Gothenburg) we bought a German
Shepard in 1990 and after a while another one. With dogs a new world opened.
We joined a local club for training our dogs. I also served as instructor
for training dogs for the Swedish Air Force. On holidays Barbro and I were
often up in the Scandinavian mountains, summer and winter, walking
and skiing with our dogs who pulled a "pulka" (Nordic style sled).
TFH: What was the journey in your
life that you brought you to owning Inuit Sled Dogs, and what attracted
you to owning Inuit Dogs?
We realized that German Shepards were very good dogs but not well suited
to the winter season. Living in a tent for a week or two we had to take
the dogs inside the tent to keep them warm during the nights, when it was
colder than minus10 degrees C. About 1994 we decided to buy our first Greenland
Inuit Dog. I had read much about the Norwegian explorers and their dogs
so it was a very easy choice for me.
TFH: Where did you get your Inuit
dogs and how many do you have?
We have now four male dogs. This is the maximum we have decided to
have, as we want to treat them as family members and have a very close
bond to each of them. Our Greenland Inuit Dogs come from Norway, the youngest
from Kennel Qornoq's Arctic, owned by Marianne Lund, and the three oldest
from Norsk Trekkhundklubb (NTK). NTK has for decades been working with
sled dogs in the areas of Oslo, ambulance work in cooperation with Red
Cross. The majority of the dogs they used were Greenland Inuit Dogs.
TFH: How do you kennel your dogs?
We have a fenced yard about 600 square meters divided in two halves
with two dogs in each. Connected to one of the yards we have a living section,
about 20 m2, with doghouses for each dog. We have also a small
(30 v./160 w.) heat panel for keeping the hay-beds dry when we have rainy
TFH: What do you feed your dogs?
With kibble and modifying with extra fat and protein according to how
hard and much they work. We also get extra meat in the fall under the moose
hunt from friendly neighbors, as I am not a hunter.
TFH: What kinds of harnesses and
sleds do you use?
Normally only Nome harnesses nowadays but we started with Nordic equipment
since we were only skiing in the beginning. Recently I bought a new sled
from Oppsal Treindustri in Oslo, recommended by Ove Nygaard. It is "high
tech". It's a medium distance sled that suits me and the equipment I have
for my trips. I really look forward for this winter season.
TFH: What kind of sledding did
you do with your dogs?
Often we train only two dogs at time. This gives each pair opportunity
to act as leader dogs with training different commands. This season we
will run mostly all four together. Fortunately we can start right out from
the house into the wilderness for daytrips. Other times we move further
north and west for longer trips, camping in a tent for a week or so.
TFH: What criteria do you use to
select Inuit Dogs to own, to breed?
First of all it must be from a kennel with the desire to protect the
pure Greenland Inuit Dog. Also a good look at the parents, and their history
- genetic background as well as what they have achieved in the front of
a sled. The dog I buy shall be curious and eager to contact
me when I show interest in having contact.
TFH: Do you have a special/unique
Inuit Dog you'd like to talk about?
Oh yes - my leader dog seven years old Nansen, white with dark brown
and black spots. He is absolutely outstanding, intelligent, and dominant
but never shows any aggressive attitude. The other dogs have a great respect
for him. The first time we saw him was outside Oslo at a meeting with the
NTK, when Nansen and his brother were only four-weeks old. It was love
at first sight. Back in Gothenburg we decided to buy Nansen. Some months
later when one of our German Shepards died we also bought Nansen's black
and white brother whom we named Amundsen.
TFH: What is your view of the future
of the Inuit Sled Dog?
This is not easy to answer, but my own opinion is that the Inuit Greenland
dog will not be too common among mushers in Europe or up here in Scandinavia.
It will exist in small numbers, but the breeders of ISD must take more
responsibility to keep the breed pure, and that can only be done by information
and lobbying from people who are working to preserve the breed.
I'll hope in the future we can manage those breeders who are working
seriously with ISD to go for quality and not only for making money.
And those of us who are working with ISD must be good ambassadors to
show and inform other presumptive ISD buyers what this fantastic breed
"Amundsen" at 4.5 with his mother, Xantippe, and "Nansen"
Pup pictures taken at 4.5 weeks of age.