The Fan Hitch Volume 11, Number 2, March 2009

Journal of the Inuit Sled Dog
In This Issue....

From the Editor: Working Dogs –
Reasoned Perception or Illogical Vision

Fan Mail

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: the Unique Vision of Sir Wally Herbert

IMHO: You, a Reader of The Fan Hitch

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Editor: Sue Hamilton
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The Fan Hitch, Journal of the Inuit Sled Dog.
From the Editor....

Working Dogs –
Reasoned Perception or Illogical Vision

It's been a "thematic" quarter year since the December 2008 issue of The Fan Hitch was published. It was an honor to be invited to contribute and then have accepted and published an article in a newsletter produced by international aboriginal and primitive dog enthusiasts.

During the last three months, I also received a request for information on when the first "Eskimo Dogs" were sent to zoos in the United Kingdom, as well as when the first "Eskimo Dog" show dogs were imported into the UK. Thinking it rather odd a person primarily interested in show dogs and pets would ask this of someone like me, I explained that those events were no interest of mine. Still in my aboriginal and primitive dog enthusiast mode, I explained that anyone researching the history of the breed should be more curious about its working heritage. As an additional caveat, I suggested as how future generations would be forever changed (if imported stock hadn't already been diminished, depending on the criteria by which they had been bred) – and very quickly at that – if not bred to and within an "arctic standard" not likely to be achieved in the UK. I was met with, "Of course our ability to work our dogs could never match those who live in the right climate, but we try the best we can with what we have got." Our discourse plummeted downhill from there, with the person proceeding to hammer me because I did not share her illogical vision of showing and a little work with her ‘fur-baby' in a generally temperate climate as part of "saving a dying breed", as she put it.

Half a world to the west, an Inuit Dog enthusiast in Alaska, David Smith, by total coincidence, reminded me of a saner population of individuals. He sent me references to some articles written by folks who appreciate the importance of maintaining the original qualities of real working dogs, rational people who understand the risks primitive and aboriginal working dogs face at the hands of the ilk of that misguided person from UK. These enthusists with reasoned perceptions have lived in the deserts of the Middle East, traveling with the sand dwelling nomads, their falcons and their unadulterated Saluqi (Saluki) hunting dogs. They are enthusiasts of working Anatolian Shepherds, real German Shepherds and functional terriers. They are specialists in African dogs and pariah dogs of Asia.

Having been on the receiving end of ridicule at the hands (tongue) of that person in the UK was disappointing. And although I know my view is shared by a veritable army of people, many who can be identified as true cynologists esteemed in their fields of study and interest, it sure is nice to see and review their positions every now and then. Take, for example, Phillip Sponenberg's "Livestock Guard Dogs: What is a Breed, and Why Does it Matter" or "Rosettes to Ruin" by Patrick Burns; or John Burchard's "The Gentrification of Working Breeds", which appears in this issue of The Fan Hitch. Also, beginning in this issue we are honored to present for the first time anywhere "Evolutionary Changes In Domesticated Dogs: The Broken Covenant Of The Wild" (part 1 of 4) by Vladimir Beregovoy.

I also recently had an opportunity to chat with George A. Shumaker, PhD., Professor Emeritus, Ag & Applied Economics at the University of Georgia. He responded to my inquiry about a quote whom many breeders attributed to "Anonymous", but one identified with Dr. Shumaker. He said, "I have made that statement many times in the past and believe it to be an accurate assessment. However, I am probably not the actual creator of that set of words – or some similar set. I do not remember where I first ran across that idea, but my first guess would be that it was taken from the writings of Max von Stephanitz, the man who is credited with the creation of the German Shepherd Dog breed in Germany in the late 1800s to early 1900s (Nova Scotia German Shepherd Dog Club breed history,  see fourth paragraph). Von Stephanitz was a great believer in the theory that you only breed dogs that have proven themselves as utilitarian in work. Once proven as workers, you then looked at conformation and pedigree to further determine breeding worthiness."

Oh, yeah, the quote is as follows:

"Pedigree indicates what the animal should be.
Conformation indicates what the animal appears to be;
But performance indicates what the animal actually is."

Wishing you smooth ice and narrow leads,

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