From the Editor: Working Dogs –
Reasoned Perception or Illogical Vision
In the News
Evolutionary Changes in Domesticated Dogs:
the Broken Covenant of the Wild, Part I
The Gentrification of Working Breeds
Qimmiit Utirtut is Four Years-Old!
Sledge Dog Memorial Fund Update
Behavior Notebook: Curious Naturalist
Remembering a Stunning Achievement
Book Review: The Polar World
IMHO: You, a Reader of The Fan Hitch
From: Donald Mearns
Eva Akpalialuk (l) and Crystal Nowdlak (r). photo: D. Mearns
Date: December 18, 2008
Subject: RE: The December issue of The Fan Hitch
Dear Sue and Mark,
What a great issue [December 2008]. A number of things that hit home in it that moved me to write to you.
The comments in the editorial about the loss of the subsistence hunter are so true. Recently a good friend and excellent hunter past away due to cancer. A man in his mid 50s, Jooelee Papatsie was the epitome of what you were talking about: a quiet-speaking solid man, wearing his culture and skills in his every movement. A skilled and well-known whale hunter, he had not had an easy life, dealing with the suicides of two sons who struggled to deal with life in the mixed up world of the Qudlunaak and the Inuk.
Jooelee was one of the disappearing world of men who didn't need a logistics team to organize everything before heading out a trip. With just tea, bannock and a Colman stove, he could deal with everything along the way. Hunting for food, for him using dogs was a past childhood memory. His skills of adaptation transferred to the skidoo. The resourcefulness to keep a cold metal machine working in the arctic is an amazing survival skill. Tracks are stitched together with wire; holes shot in frames using rifles when a drill is not available to create a new hole where the old one has cracked or worn out; electrical systems held with screws that just do the job; fuel pumps cracked in the cold and bound with twine that, with this repair, amazingly don't leak gas; cracked windshields from scary tumbles down mountainsides that are stitched together to look like the scars on Frankenstein’s neck but none the less work to keep the bitter cutting wind off your face. These are only a few of the amazingly resourceful repairs that are made when there is not an available parts store!
As you mentioned, these men are the last of a breed - the elders have gone. These men are the modern day elders with skills and a way of thinking that will soon be lost. After these men are gone, the elders will just be "old people". These men carried the memories of the link between the old ways but become rarer and rarer as our need for "things" took over. Once a few dogs and a qamutiq did the job. Now we need an array of machinery to go out to "survive": aluminum boats with complicated four stroke engines, four stroke fuel injected snowmobiles, 4 x 4 wheelers, GPS, satellite phones...the list of all the associated "Cabala’s" gadgetry that is now required to be able to hunt is endless.
Anyway, the fact that someone else had made this realization moved me to write something.
The other article that interested me was about Rob McGlone in the Antarctic. I empathathized with his comment about the running of dogs with multiple females on the team. I discovered this doesn't work well through my own trial and error and then from advice from a number of elders. It never ceases to amaze me that people kept trying to run teams with more than one female even though they realized the chaos it causes. I found that even though it meant often running with fewer dogs, the increased efficiency was worth it. (Also less wound stitching at the end of the day; they are so vicious to each other and sneaky about it too!)
The closing comments of Mark's opinion piece, "The next great thing" also touched me. We are quite in tune in our beliefs. It is truly the simple things in life that bring pleasure. This realization that has been building over a number of years was reinforced just a few weeks ago as I was sitting at the kitchen table polishing a few pieces of silver. Two of my nephews were watching me and asked if they could help. I set them up with polish and cloths and they made to the task at hand. This silver was badly tarnished, requiring extreme application of elbow grease. An hour into the task, the two young helpers were still going strong and told me they were having fun. It was then I then realized I too was enjoying polishing the silver. I had always viewed it as an onerous task but now it seemed to be so rewarding and enjoyable. Isn't it strangely wonderful how we see our world differently as we mature?
Anyway, hope you enjoy my shared ramblings from my wee cold corner of Baffin Island.
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January 30, 2009
Cook County Commissioner
Sue Hamilton, Editor
Fan Hitch Journal
I am writing to receive permission to either refer individuals to your website with the article or copy the article to hand out. You can either send an e-mail or send a written note. The author, Dan Kato, referred me to the article when I called him to ask him a few questions. The article, “Dog Yard Noise”, Vol. 8, Number 2, March 2006 is the best one I have read dealing with the issue of sound and noise mitigation of dog sled noise. The article gives a fair and balanced review of the issue. I wish to have the other 4 County Commissioners read the article.
Thank you for your time on this.
* * *
Date: December 5, 2008 12:07:56 PM EST
I so much enjoy your Fan Hitch online editions that I'd love to subscribe to hard copies as well
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Date: November 7, 2008
Subject: Inuit Sled Dog
Hello … I first became interested in the Canadian Inuit Sled Dog about 6 years ago when I was living in Arviat, Nunavut.
I just wanted to share my story and say thank-you for The Fan Hitch. It is a great resource and I love to read of the great adventures with ISDs. It has taught me so much. It makes me laugh but also inspires me.