The Fan Hitch Volume 10, Number 4, September 2008

Journal of the Inuit Sled Dog

In This Issue....

From the Editor

In the News

Ladies' Ellesmere Vacation

Sled Dog Physiology: Non-Invasive Techniques

BAS Vignette: How Do You Say Good-bye?

Sledge Dog Memorial Fund Update

Report: The Chinook Project in Kimmirut

Bannock revisited

Book Review: Land of the Long Day

Behavior Notebook: On Being a Social Facilitator

Tip: Dealing with Those "Dirty" Boots

Index: Volume 10, The Fan Hitch

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Editor: Sue Hamilton
Webmaster: Mark Hamilton
The Fan Hitch, Journal of the Inuit Sled Dog, is published four times a year. It is available at no cost online at:

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This site is dedicated to the Inuit Dog as well as related Inuit culture and traditions. It is also home to The Fan Hitch, Journal of the Inuit Sled Dog.

From the Editor....

This time of year always seems to warrant a big sigh of relief. Although we and the dogs may have to suffer through a few more miserable summer days, there are also signs of better things to come. Even through the heat-induced humidity that partially obscures my view out the window right now, I can see formerly verdant leaves, now sporting their fall colors, floating by. The birds, too, dart, past my view to the feeders. They seem to sense, even on this hot and stuffy day, that it is time to once again pick up the pace and pack on the calories. The dogs have their own clues sensing the upcoming running season – the occasional cool "frisky" mornings that are now occurring with greater frequency, and their keen awareness of the extra time Mark is spending hanging around the dog truck, doing some minor repairs to the dog box. As I write this he is "hiding" in the garage loading in the season’s running supplies in hopes that the dogs can’t see him and start screaming with anticipation!

I also heave a big sigh of relieve because the September issue of The Fan Hitch notes the end of yet another publishing year, this time marking the completion of a whole decade. And I want to take this opportunity to express my heartfelt appreciation for all the contributors who have generously donated their time, talent and photographs to help fill our pages with informative, entertaining and educational content.  The Fan Hitch just couldn’t be the same without all of you. Thanks so much and thank you in advance for your continued support.

Just about a year ago the Russian Primitive and Aboriginal Dog Society held the first international conference entitled "Aboriginal Dog Breeds as a Part of Biodiversity and of the Cultural Heritage of Humankind". Sadly no one was able to travel to Almaty, Kazakhstan to represent the Inuit Sled Dog at this groundbreaking event. This past July, however, the Inuit Sled Dog was indeed well represented to an international audience. The "Canine Science Forum: On dogs and related Canids – From genes through behaviour to society", was held in Budapest, Hungary July 5-9, 2008. Dr. Peter Savolainen, who has a great interest in the Inuit Sled Dog as a portal to a better understanding of the origins of domestication, presented "Population genetic studies of the origins of the domestic dog." Dr. Matthias Starck, Department of Biology II University of Munich, spoke on his and his colleagues' work in Greenland with a paper entitled "Energy metabolism of working Inuit sled dogs." His fellow-researcher, Nadine Gerth, described "Non-invasive methods for studying working dog physiology in the field". Ms Gerth, already a contributor to The Fan Hitch, has generously graced the pages of our September issue with a summary of her presentation in Budapest.

Recently, a Canadian biologist echoed what Inuit hunters have been complaining about – how tranquilizing and collaring polar bears and caribou are detrimental to the animals themselves and may lead to inaccurate or misleading data. Could the study of the population dynamics of these two species, currently an emotionally charged subject, benefit from the research on Inuit Sled Dogs undertaken by scientists Starck and Gerth? And what does all this mean for the Inuit Dog living and working in the North? That is not clear either. But I have always believed that the keen interest in this primitive breed of working dog which is shown by others will increasingly demonstrate to everyone in the North in a position to take action that their very own Inuit Sled Dog is a priceless resource on many fronts, one well worth their attention and preservation.

Wishing you smooth ice and narrow leads,


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