In This Issue....
From the Editor:
Who Will Share Our Vision?
New Partnership in Nunavik
A Real Inuk
Dog Memorial Fund
of the Doggy Man
Sledge Dogs of The
Falkland Islands Dependencies Survey, 1947-50
In the News
Secrets of Antarctica
Return of the Qimutsiit
Dogs That Changed the World
Review: Leather Mittens by Sterling Glove
Tip for the Trail:
It's in the Bag
IMHO: One Brick
at a Time
Edition: Imaged and distributed
by the IPL students of the Ulluriaq School,
Journal of the Inuit Sled Dog International,
is published four times a
year. It is available at no cost online at:
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.)
Hitch welcomes your
letters, stories, comments and suggestions. The
the right to edit submissions used for
The Fan Hitch are protected by
No photo, drawing or text may be
reproduced in any form without written
consent. Webmasters please note: written
consent is necessary before
this site to yours! Please forward
requests to Sue Hamilton, 55 Town
Rd., Harwinton, Connecticut 06791,
USA or email@example.com
Inuit Sled Dog International
Sled Dog International (ISDI)
is a consortium of enthusiasts whose goal is the
preservation of this
arctic breed in its purest form as a working dog.
The ISDI's efforts
concentrated on restoring the pure Inuit Dog to
its native habitat. The
ISDI's coordinators welcome to your comments and
|This paper originally appeared
in Polar Record number 45, pp631-641 (1953). It is presented here
thanks to the generosity of Robert Burton of the British Antarctic Survey
Club who provided a copy and to Ian Stone, Editor of the Polar Record,
who kindly granted permission to reprint it. It has been recreated in as
close to its original style and formatting as was practical. Ed.
Sledge Dogs Of The
Falkland Islands Dependencies Survey, 1947-50
by Raymond J. Adie
The following notes are intended not as a rigid set of
rules but as a guide for future Antarctic travellers: common sense must
be used in their application. Systematic breeding, training and driving
of dogs are essential in an organization as large as the Falkland Islands
Dependencies Survey, but modifications must naturally be made to suit particular
Among the first members of the Survey, only two - Captain
A. Taylor, R.C.E. (Port Lockroy, 1944-45 and Hope Bay, 1945-46) and Surgeon-Commander
E.W. Bingham, R.N. (Stonington Island, 1946-47) - had had previous sledging
experience. With the exception of a few modifications derived from Taylor's
experience, Bingham's technique of dog driving was followed in later years
All the sledge dogs originally used were brought
from Labrador in 1944 and 1945 (Bingham, 1947a, p. 24, 31; James, 1947,
p. 40). Few of these still remained in service in 1948 and 1949, but their
progeny, born and bred in the Antarctic, proved larger in size and better-tempered
than dogs brought from Labrador (James, 1947, p. 42).
To obtain, and to retain in successive generations, a
high standard of efficiency as a traction animal, sledge dogs must be bred
with care. With very few exceptions domestic animals have been improved
immensely by careful breeding through the centuries. Animals possessing
special qualities, such as size, strength, milk yield and colour, have
been constantly selected and mated with discrimination. This preserves
and intensifies the genetic factors which, in good environmental conditions,
produce in the mature animal whatever is specially valued. Although sledge
dogs have been used domestically for many generations, deliberate genetic
research has played little part in breeding. Further improvement is probably
attainable in physical conformation, stamina, and physiological efficiency.
In the Falkland Islands Dependencies Survey, where the whole dog population
consists of not more than about 300 descendants of the few dozen animals
originally imported from Labrador, conscious care in breeding is essential
if efficiency is to be maintained. Continued breeding within this small
population means that all the dogs must inevitably, after a few generations,
be related to one another, leading to a concentration of genetic qualities,
good or bad. So-called in-breeding, its popular meaning being the close
and haphazard breeding within a small population, commonly leads to general
deterioration. On the other hand, a very considerable degree of breeding
between close relatives under proper control is the standard method of
"fixing" in the breeding qualities of high value. Careful breeding is thus
essential if the quality of the Falkland Islands Dependencies Survey stock
of dogs is to be maintained, and the introduction of new blood may be necessary
in the future. New blood, however, will not ensure high quality unless
there is conscious discrimination.
The following traits are desirable in dogs and bitches
selected for breeding: good physique and stamina; ability to lead a team;
intelligence; good sense of direction; readiness to pull, even under adverse
conditions; big feet and long, well-built legs; broad chest and alert stance;
broad head and muzzle. Bitches selected should be good mothers and capable
of suckling their pups without aid. Some dogs appear to attain a good physical
condition while at the base but rapidly lose condition while sledging.
It is therefore inadvisable to breed from them. It is better to breed dogs
with short coats. At Hope Bay a particularly "shaggy" strain resulted from
repeated and indiscriminate in-breeding of dogs with thick woolly coats,
the length of the underwool or fur fibres being almost the same as that
of the coarser guard hairs. Drift snow tends to adhere to a "shaggy" coat,
so that a dog becomes encased in ice, or has large balls of ice hanging
from its coat. At Hope Bay a dog had to be destroyed because the excessive
weight of ice caused the skin on its back to tear, exposing the flesh.
Several of the "shaggy" dogs at Hope Bay were subsequently sheared like
sheep, but they still became "iced up".
To ensure that a bitch is served by a particular dog,
both should be chained in close proximity during the heat period of the
bitch. A bitch on heat in the field can cause chaos, and at night should
be tethered separately some distance from the rest of the team. At times
it is desirable that bitches should not be served, for instance during
the first heat. For this purpose Bob Martin's "Antimate" has been used
with some success.
Although sixty-eightl pups
were born at Stonington Island in 1947-48, only three were kept because
rearing entails much extra work, especially when the majority of the staff
are absent from the base. For this reason it is considered preferable to
breed pups at small stations, where more time is available and food is
more plentiful. On the other hand, dogs bred at a sledging base can be
trained at an early age to the ways of those who are to drive them.
All pups born in the field were destroyed soon after birth.
Whenever pups are not required they should be killed at the earliest opportunity,
preferably within a few hours of birth. If bitches are allowed to suckle
even a single pup for several days before it is destroyed, they invariably
suffer from enlarged and inflamed mammary glands. This condition may cause
abscesses which are difficult to cure, and keep a bitch out of her sledging
team for an unnecessarily long period; occasionally it may even be necessary
to destroy her. If the pups are taken away at birth, lactation ceases within
two or three days, any milk being resorbed. In some cases bitches whose
pups have been destroyed at birth retain condition and may be worked after
a few days' rest. Others lose condition irrespective of whether they suckle
a little or not.
In 1948-49 thirteen pups were successfully reared at Stonington
Island. The bitches were allowed to suckle them until the beginning of
the third week. During this period the bitches' normal ration was supplemented
with a special puppy mea1.2 Weaning then began, first by introducing
the pups to Nestle's sweetened condensed milk mixed with an equal quantity
of water. Within a week they drank from a saucer, but only if they were
not allowed to feed from the mother. At this stage they were fed four times
daily. Before the pups were fed in the morning the bitch was chained apart
to prevent her suckling them during the day. After the last feed of the
day the bitch was put back with the pups to keep them warm during the night.
In the fourth and fifth weeks pups were fed twice daily on a thin porridge-like
mixture of puppy meal enriched by condensed milk. The condensed milk was
later omitted, and the food made a little thicker. The bitch was taken
away from her pups after six to seven weeks. Feeding on meal continued
until such time as the pups could eat minced seal meat and liver without
Should a bitch be unable to suckle pups, they may be reared
from birth on Nestle's sweetened condensed milk, mixed with water in the
proportion of two parts to one. For this purpose a baby's bottle and rubber
teat may be used.
In the first few weeks of weaning it is preferable to
feed pups a little thrice daily rather than to overfeed them less frequently.
Overfeeding may cause intestinal trouble (intussusception), which resulted
in the death of three pups at Stonington Island. One meal a day is possible
after eight to ten weeks. At this time it is desirable to provide water
for the pups until they learn to eat snow.
Kennels and pens
Drift-proof canvas-covered kennels were provided for bitches
with litters and for young pups being weaned. At night, and during blizzards,
the entrances were covered with sacking to prevent drifting snow from filling
the kennels and turning to ice on the floor.
Pup pens were made of netting-covered tubular frames,
4 ft. 6 in. x 6 ft. Until the pups were three months old the pen was 4
ft. 6 in. high, but when they became more adventurous and began to climb
out, the sections were turned on end to form a pen 6 ft. high. A kennel
was built into one side of the pen.
At the beginning of 1947 the majority of dogs at Hope
Bay were roaming freely. During several months of freedom they had formed
into groups, each with its own "king" dog. There was, however, one "super-king"
dog acknowledged by minor "kings". There were endless fights, and it soon
became necessary for a member of the party to be constantly on watch to
prevent injuries. Eventually the dogs became unmanageable, especially when
sledging began, and they had to be chained. Another reason for doing this
was the danger that they would stray (James, 1947, p. 41).
A.R. Glen (1939, p. 185) prefers the use of pens to that
of spans and chains. If there is relatively little snowfall or drift, and
few dogs, this is a practical proposition, but at a base like Hope Bay
where there were 134 dogs and pups in 1947, it was impractical. The same
applies to Bingham's use of deadmen for tethering (Bingham, 1947b, p. 44).
Tethering lines of steel wire cable (often called spans)
to which 6 ft. dog chains were attached with bulldog grips at intervals
of 15 to 18 ft., were used at Hope Bay and Stonington Island in 1948 and
1949. All chains could be fitted with two swivels and a swivel clip-hook,
to prevent tangling. Each cable, accommodating nine or ten dogs (usually
a team), was 3/4 in. in diameter and each end was
firmly picquetted. The cables were carefully inspected from time to time
so that fraying could be prevented, or noticed before the cable snapped.
Occasionally the nuts on a bulldog grip worked loose and the friction of
a grip sliding along the cable led to rapid fraying. Pairs of dogs often
came too close if the bulldog grip slipped, and fights resulted. This trouble
was remedied by unlaying two strands of the cable and inserting the bulldog
grip through the gap.
Before 1948, dogs at Stonington Island were tethered to
deadmen buried in the snow at intervals of 15 to 20 ft. Deadmen were also
used when a few dogs had to be tethered on sea ice during winter. Disadvantages
are that a dog can easily pull them up in summer, and in winter they are
difficult to dig out.
Light spans and chains have been suggested for tethering
at night while sledging (Bird & Bird, 1939, p. 182). They were used
by Hope Bay parties in 1946, but since 1947 the method described below
has been used. Spans are cumbersome, and are unnecessary when dogs are
On the whole, the method of tethering adopted at Hope
Bay and Stonington Island in 1948 and 1949 proved satisfactory. The comments
of Bingham (1947b, p. 44) on the tethering methods used by James (1947,
p. 43) were fully supported by later experience. A centre trace formation
was generally used, the dogs were unharnessed and left tethered to the
traces by their collars. Some dogs were picquetted separately for a specific
reason. When fan trace formation was used the dogs were tethered in threes
by tying three adjacent traces together with a slip knot, and attaching
them to a picquet.
The use of ice-axes for picquetting (James, 1947, p. 43)
is wrong, and resulted in the breakage of twelve hafts in two seasons at
one base alone. Steel angle-iron or spiral picquets are much more efficient
and will hold a team without difficulty. In soft snow a deadman, made from
a ration-box lid or a picquet laid horizontally, should be used. A pair
of crampons, buried points downward, are equally satisfactory.
If dogs are to be tethered, it is essential to provide
a suitable collar for attaching the clip-hooks to the chains. Clip-hooks
must be snapped on to the collar itself and never on to the D-ring of the
collar. Constant pulling on the D-ring very soon ruins a collar, especially
when dogs are tethered to cables at base for long periods. Collars may
be of spliced cod-line or marline, flat leather, or a round rope-core covered
with leather. Each type has a particular use. Unlike most cheap leather
collars, neither cod-line or marline freeze in winter. Strap leather collars
can easily be made if buckles and leather are available: they must not
be too wide, or they will catch in the clip-hooks and wear quickly in one
place. Strap leather collars were found most successful, because they slide
easily round the neck, and neither tangle in the ruff nor chafe the skin
under the throat. Round cross-section leather collars are preferable but
they are too expensive. The kind of collar used is largely a matter of
individual preference, but the use of choke collars is inhumane.
Whenever possible, dogs should be tethered on snow, because
this keeps them cleaner.
Harnesses used by the Falkland Islands Dependencies Survey
are made up of 11 in. (flat measurement) tubular lampwick, usually hand-sewn
with spun yarn. Single thickness 11 in. lampwick should never be used,
as it stretches, cuts into the dog's coat, and chafes the skin. Well-fitting
harnesses are essential for efficient hauling, and for dogs of normal size
(of about 85 to 90 lb.) the measurements are shown in Fig. 2. If necessary
the measurements of A'B' and A'D' may be increased or decreased by 1 in.
or, very occasionally, more. If a dog can easily slip out, the harness
is at fault, generally because it fits badly under the forelegs. Several
modifications to the original pattern (Fig. 1) may be made: for instance,
the back straps (A'E') of the harness can be nipped at C'; the cross-piece
can be lengthened by increasing it from 6 to 8 in.: the shoulder straps
(B'D') can be increased to 12 in. instead of the customary 10 to 11 in.,
and A'B' can be reduced from 13 to 7 in. The reduction in length of the
shoulder strap and the corresponding increase in length of the cross-piece
not only provides a better neck aperture but a more comfortable fit on
the shoulders. This point is illustrated in Fig. 3, where the original
and modified patterns of neck aperture are shown. The cross formed by the
two shoulder straps should rest on the centre of the chest, as shown in
Fig. 1. Lampwick dog harness. Pattern (after Bingham) used by F.I.D.S.
Fig. 2. Lampwick dog harness. Pattern (as modified by the author) used
by F.I.D.S. after 1947
(S.P.R.I. No 52/61/1). A'B', 7 in.; A'C', 7 in.; A'D', 19 in.; B'D',
12 in; C'E', 6 in; cross-piece, 8 1/2 in.
Fig. 3. Neck aperture.
Fig. 4. Shoulder straps.
Some dogs delight in extricating themselves from harness,
however well-fitting it may be. To prevent this a small loop-and-toggle
belly-band may be fitted at F' (Fig. 2).
If the dog's name is embroidered or inked on the cross-piece,
identification is simple, and anyone who knows the dogs by name can harness
the team. Coloured tags, until 1948 at Stonington Island, were of little
value for this purpose because invariably the team driver was the only
person who knew to which animal each particular harness belonged. Lampwick
harnesses may freeze: the cross-threads of some types of lampwick crack
and fray, leaving a tangled mass of longitudinal threads. This can be prevented
by soaking in paraffin prior to use, a treatment which does not harm the
As Glen (1939, p. 186) comments, dogs seldom chew harnesses
and traces when they are well-fed and comfortable. As soon as they become
very hungry, or entangled in the traces, they revert to chewing.
Although the method of driving and consequently the type
of trace used should depend on surface conditions and the nature of the
terrain, a driver usually prefers one particlar method and type of trace,
which he must however be prepared to change with changing conditons. Of
the two methods used at Stonington Island in the sledging seasons from
1948 to 1950 - centre trace and paired fan3 - the former was
used by every driver with great success, and was preferred owing to its
Fig. 5. Centre trace, with side traces and main trace.
Centre trace. The centre trace was standard and
accommodated nine dogs. Extensions to take two additional dogs could easily
be added. The trace, made of 11 in. sisal rope4, comprised three
sections 7ft. 6 in. long and one 9 ft. long, with 1 in. metal rings spliced
between each section. Although galvanized steel rings were generally used,
stout brass rings are preferable because they do not rust and wear the
splices. The 9 ft. section had a 3 to 4 in. loop spliced in the end attached
to the main trace. Reinforcement of this loop with a canvas sleeve prevented
Fig. 6. Side traces as modified by the author (S.P.R.I. No. 52/61/3.)
Side traces. The best length for side traces is
between 2 ft. 3 in. and 2 ft. 6 in. Two types were used, both made of tarred
The first type (Fig. 7) consisted of a loop spliced at
each end of a suitable length of line, with a catspaw knot attaching the
clip-hook to the side trace, and the side trace to the ring of the centre
trace. The loop of the catspaw often slips over the clip-hook swivel, preventing
it from working correctly, and may cause the trace to unlay.
The second type (Fig. 6) is made of splicing a loop at
one end of the line and a clip-hook at the other, care being taken not
to make the clip-hook splice too small. The side trace is then attached
to the centre trace by a catspaw knot.
Fig. 7. Side trace (S. P. R. I. No. 52/61/2).
If the loop at the clip-hook end of the side trace wears
through, the trace can be shortened and the clip-hook respliced. The length
of the leading dog's trace is determined by the team driver according to
On all sledge journeys spare traces, complete with clip-hooks,
were carried to avoid delays when traces broke.
Main trace. With the exception mentioned below,
each sledge was equipped with an ordinary one-piece main trace, to which
the centre trace was attached by two adjacent karabiners. The karabiners,
however, were found to wear both the main and the centre traces at attachment
points. To prevent this a canvas sleeve was sewn over the main trace. Rubber
hose has also been used for this purpose.
Fig. 8. Main trace (as modified by the author).
A modified type of main trace, made in two parts (Fig.
8), proved easier to operate, even when iced-up. A loop was spliced at
one end, and when the centre trace loop was slipped over the other end,
a double sheet bend was tied; reknotting in a different place each time
distributes wear evenly over attachment points.
A square toggle and loop, similar to that used by Bingham
(1941, p. 79), can be used, but does not prevent continual wear at attachments.
Fan traces. Sets of paired fan traces for seven,
nine and eleven dogs were available at Stonington Island, and were used
for the greater part of the 1947-48 season, but hardly at all in 1948-49
and 1949-50. The most suitable measurements for individual traces were
two of 9 ft., two of 15 ft., two of 21 ft., two of 27 ft., and one of 33
The difference in length between pairs of traces is 6
ft., and a square-toggled extension trace is used for attaching them to
the main trace. This type of extension (Bingham, 1941, p. 379) to the main
trace is important, because it allows easy unravelling of the fan throughout
the day without the possibility of dogs escaping.
During the summer it was customary at base to give each
dog approximately 4 lb. of seal meat without blubber every alternate day.
Blubber was not given to dogs during the summer because it always passes
straight through them, and invariably finds its way on to their coats,
which become badly matted.
During the winter the dogs at base usually received every
alternate day approximately 6 lb. of meat and blubber, of which a third
was blubber. In 1948 very few seals were killed at Stonington Island after
the beginning of March.5 The resulting shortage of meat necessitated
the introduction of different forms of feeding. Blubber which had been
saved during the late summer was cut into squares weighing approximately
1 to 1 1/2 lb. One of these, together with 2 lb. of
Bovril dog pemmican, constituted one meal. Because dogs appear to need
oil or blubber, especially in winter, stock fish (dried cod) was used together
with blubber as a meal on alternate days. Owing to the limited quantities
of seal blubber and stock fish available at Stonington Island in 1948,
pemmican alone was fed to the dogs for long periods. In order to provide
some variety, it was finally decided to feed pemmican daily for three days
followed by stock fish and blubber on the fourth day to last two days.
Occasionally stock fish were fed together with 1 lb. of pemmican on alternate
On all sledge journeys the dogs were given 1 lb. of pemmican
a day. Double feeds were given whenever signs of fatigue appeared. At Stonington
Island in 1948 it became the practice to reserve a small stock of seal
meat, as a special contribution to the dogs' diet in the ten days before
a winter sledging journey began; this provided four good meals, which perhaps
helped the dogs to withstand the rigours of winter sledging. Lack of stamina
during any particular winter journey may be accounted for by poor feeding
prior to the start. While the dogs were away on such a journey, a number
of seals were often killed in Neny Fjord, and on their return to base the
dogs were given seal meat and blubber for several weeks until the next
journey began. From the beginning of October until the beginning of March
the following year they were fed on seal meat. This, together with constant
exercise, made a great improvement in their general condition.
The failure to revictual Stonington Island in the summer
of 1948-49 caused a shortage of dog pemmican, and in 1949 precautions were
taken to ensure that the dogs would have an adequate supply of seal blubber
throughout the winter. Again seal meat and blubber were stored for feeding
the dogs before the winter journeys. No signs of any dietary deficiencies
were observed in the ensuing winter.
As prolonged feeding on pemmican in the field may be detrimental
to the dogs' health, it is desirable to give them seal meat once or twice
every ten days, especially if heavy loads are being hauled and the duration
of the journey exceeds thirty days. While sledging during winter, dogs
were given more than 1 lb. of pemmican daily whenever sufficient was available.
An extra 1/2 lb. of pemmican on alternate days is
preferable, but it is usually difficult to carry the additional load. K.S.P.
Butler did this on the main southern journey in 1947-48 down the west coast
of the Weddell Sea, and all his dogs returned to base in excellent physical
condition after 105 days in the field.6 Butler was able to give
his dogs 1 1/4 lb. of pemmican daily because his party
had air support.
James (1947, p. 41) and Bingham (1941, p. 373) both advocate
hot meals for dogs at base in winter. Once again, this depends upon the
number of dogs; with large numbers it is out of the question, but for sick
dogs, or bitches with litters, it is certainly advisable. In summer, when
snow is not available at the tethering place, dogs must be given water
for drinking every day.
At Stonington Island in 1948 a total of 3260 lb. of pemmican
was used for feeding at base in the winter, and approximately 5000 lb.
during sledge journeys. In addition, fifteen bales of stock fish and some
eighty seals were used at base. Similar quantities were consumed in 1949.
Pups were accustomed to harness by walking them round,
thus allowing them to exercise their natural instinct to pull. The next
step was to run them in a quiet team, at first alongside a bitch. Normally
a pup will pull with vigour, and within half an hour will become completely
exhausted. Such training for ten successive days should enable a pup to
take part in journeys. Stamina for pulling heavy loads over great distances
for long periods develops only after a pup has been in the field for several
Pups can be trained to pull in any of the standard formations,
but it was found most successful to use a centre trace because when several
pups are pulling in paired fan formation chaos usually results. Once discipline
has been instilled, training can continue using paired fan traces. With
several older dogs in the leading positions, usually two young dogs are
inspanned in the centre of the team (Fig. 9). An additional neck line from
the pup's collar or shoulder straps to the centre trace ring ahead generally
prevents the pup from dawdling, pulling out of harness backwards, or otherwise
causing trouble. A belly-band (Fig. 2) may be used in addition to the neck
line to prevent the pup from slipping out of the harness.
In training leaders, care should be taken to accustom
the dog to a forward position in the team at an early stage; later the
dog should be put up alongside the leader until such time as he will answer
all commands and is proficient in leading. Then he may lead his own team.
Fig. 9. Centre trace formation, showing method of pup-training.
The words of command used by the Falkland Islands Dependencies Survey
are corruptions from arctic terms. In order to standardize them the following
terms were used at Stonington Island:
To start "UP DOGS, WEET"
To stop "A-a-a-a-"
Turn right "AUK, AUK" ("au" pronounced as "ou" in loud)
Turn left "I-r-r-re" (with a long rolling "r")
With well-trained teams it is unnecessary to repeat commands,
unless turning right or left, when the command must be repeated until the
dogs are heading in the required direction.
The writer gratefully acknowledges information about dog-breeding contributed
by G.C.L. Bertram, and constructive criticism by B.B Roberts and V.E. Fuchs.
BINGHAM, E.W. (1941). Sledging and sledge dogs. Polar Record, Vol.
3, No. 21, p. 367-85.
BINGHAM, E.W. (1947a). The Falkland Islands Dependencies Survey, 1946-47.
Polar Record, Vol. 5, Nos. 33/34, p. 27-39.
BINGHAM, E.W. (1947b). Comments on D. James's article on the sledge
dogs of the Falkland Islands Dependencies Survey, see below. Polar Record,
Vol. 5, Nos. 33/34, p. 43-44.
BIRD, C.G. & Bird, E.G. (1939). The management of sledge dogs.
Polar Record, Vol. 3, No. 18, p. 180-84.
GLEN, A.R. (1939). Comments on Messrs Bird's article on the management
of sledge dogs, see above. Polar Record, Vol. 3, No. 18, p. 184-87.
JAMES, DAVID (1947). The sledge dogs of the Falkland Islands Dependencies
Survey, 1945-46. Polar Record, Vol. 5, Nos. 33/34, p. 40-43.
The first draft of the article reprinted above (by courtesy
of the Editor of The Polar Record) was written at Stonington Island in
1949 as a "base report" on the state of the dog population. In due time,
and after countless redrafts, it was published in 1952. Many articles on
huskies and dog handling, both Arctic and Antarctic, had previously appeared
in The Polar Record, and the idea behind the publication of this article
was to reflect the dog-handling techniques current in the Antarctic in
1950. David James had already written about the dogs used by Operation
Tabarin, and Surgeon Commander E.W. Bingham had recorded aspects of dog-handling
in the first days of the Falkland Islands Dependencies Survey.
In the early years of FIDS there was total reliance on
dogs for transport. All of the long reconnaissance journeys were done by
dog sledge with virtually no support, except for a few field depots. At
one time, to say you had been to the Antarctic was tantamount to saying
you were an expert dog driver - far from the truth, because there is much
more to successful dog-driving than meets the inexperienced eye!
However, field-work techniques were changing. The first
aircraft arrived in the Antarctic to support FIDS field work and it was
not uncommon to see a two-man sledging unit, complete with dogs, being
loaded aboard one of these aircraft. Then came the first motor toboggans
which were initially used on an experimental basis until their reliability
was thoroughly proven. Once field work had been fully mechanized, the dogs
were slowly relegated to a back-up role and a small breeding population
of about 40 dogs was maintained at Adelaide Island. This decision precipitated
countless fierce arguments between the "pro-dog" and the "pro-vehicle"
camps, and to this day, even in England, these same arguments go on between
ex-Fids. This is still one of the main talking points at BAS Club Reunions!
Times have changed; all of us must move with advancing
technology, but for how much longer will the Survey's dog population survive.
It is difficult to appreciate fully that 26 years have passed since this
article was first drafted.
1 Out of sixty of these pups (in eight cases sex was not
identified before destruction) forty-five were males and fifteen females.
2 "Casco Puppy Meal", a proprietary dog food, was available
at Stonington Island.
3 "Paired fan" (trace lengths in pairs except for single
leader) is a new term suggested for what has previously been known by a
variety of terms such as "modified fan", "modified fan hitch", "British
Graham Land Expedition method" or "Mackenzie River method".
4 Sisal rope was used because neither manilla nor hemp was
available. Manilla and hemp wear better and last much longer than sisal.
5 No seals were brought from the Argentine Islands in February
1948, because the John Biscoe was unable to make a second run round the
Falkland Islands Dependencies Survey bases.
6 This period includes the ninety-nine days of the main
journey and six days travel immediately preceding. Seal meat was fed at
intervals throughout this period.