The Fan Hitch Volume 11, Number 1, December 2008

Journal of the Inuit Sled Dog

In This Issue....

From the Editor: Expeditions

My First Winter Trip in Antarctica

Canadian Animal Assistance Team in Pond Inlet

Sledge Dog Memorial Fund Update

In the News

Book Review:  Dog Days on Ice

Behavior Notebook: Transitions

Product Review: The Tick Key

Tip: Flammable Food

IMHO: The Next Great Thing


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Editor: Sue Hamilton
Webmaster: Mark Hamilton
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Book Review….



Dog Days on Ice
Antarctic Exploration in a Golden Era


by Peter Noble


reviewed by Mark Hamilton

Dog Days on Ice is Peter Noble’s recollection of his two years service as a doggy man with the Falklands Islands Dependencies Service (FIDS, later known as the British Antarctic Survey or BAS), while stationed in Halley Bay, Antarctica in the late 1960s. Events from that stay are told as vignettes, intertwined around Noble's primary story of the return trip of a reconnaissance expedition that took Noble and three additional FIDS-BAS men south nearly to the Shackleton Mountains. The return trip from "Point Touché" – the location where the men were no longer able to find a safe route to the Shackleton Mountains – back to Halley Bay was 600 miles (966 km). Including the travel from their initial staging point, and the distance covered while searching for a route from Point Touché to the Shackletons, the dog sledding portion on this expedition totaled 984 miles (1,585 km). The entire journey took sixty-seven days.

Dog Days on Ice is a very enjoyable book, and truly a good read. Noble tells his story honestly, with an absence of pretense or affected humility. The reality of living in Antarctica in the late 1960s, the shared sense of duty among the Fids, the goals, frustrations, accomplishments and regrets are all detailed for the reader's edification. In particular, the two themes of duty and regret are continuing threads throughout the book.

Peter Noble treats his subject matter with great respect. Clearly his service in the BAS was, and remains of great significance to him, and his writing reflects the lasting bond he feels for those with whom he served and the dogs with which he traveled. I found the recounting of his experiences on the trail with the BAS huskies to have an intimacy and familiarity that brought the dogs "to life" for me during his telling. Many of Noble's expressed regrets involve the BAS huskies and their ultimate fate. Not surprisingly, the huskies, and what was accomplished with them, are the major focus of the book.

This is a book that both Inuit Dog enthusiasts and mushers of other breeds can read and take pleasure in. Also, people who read and study accounts of polar exploration can find Dog Days on Ice captivating and a source of first person information from that period. It is also a book that historians should read, as the history of the BAS effort in that era is primarily chronicled up to now in old field reports from that time.

Dog Days on Ice showcases some of Noble's original photography and sketches. The book offers six appendices, including a roll-call of the doggy men at Halley Bay at the time of Noble's book, field expeditions mounted from Halley Bay from 1957-1972, a roll-call of the Halley Bay huskies, a listing of the contents of a ten-day ration box, the issued contents of a post office bag and the personal bag and finally, a glossary of terminology.

Dog Days on Ice: Antarctic Exploration in a Golden Era, ISBN 1 873877 89 7, is 232 pages long and soft covered. It is published by Reardon Publishing, P.O.B. 919, GL50 9AN England, tel: 44 (0)1242 231800. Price: £14.99 plus shipping. However, Peter is making a generous offer especially to Inuit Dog enthusiasts and readers of The Fan Hitch. Order your book(s) directly from Peter, use PayPal and be sure to mention The Fan Hitch to receive the following special, postage included pricing: UK addresses - £14.99, Mainland Europe - £16, rest of world airmail - £18, rest of world surface mail - £15.
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