The Fan Hitch Volume 11, Number 3, June 2009

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

From the Editor: A Virtual Fan Hitch

Inuit Sled Dogs Achieve Distinguished Visibility

Sledge Dog Memorial Fund Update

New Resource of Polar Exploration Images

In Passing: Remembering Kevin Walton

Book Review: Huskies/My Friends, the Huskies

Evolutionary Changes in Domesticated Dogs:
The Broken Covenant of the Wild, Part 2

Behavior Notebook:
Comparative Behavior Studies in The Netherlands

In the News

Canadian Animal Assistance Team's
2009 Northern Clinics

The Chinook Project's Early Start on Veterinary Clinics

IMHO: Why Inuit Dogs?

Navigating This Site

Index of articles by subject

Index of back issues by volume number

Search The Fan Hitch

Articles to download and print

Ordering Ken MacRury's Thesis

Our comprehensive list of resources

Talk to The Fan Hitch

The Fan Hitch home page

ISDI home page

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Editor: Sue Hamilton
Webmaster: Mark Hamilton
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Book review....

(UK edition)

My Friends, the Huskies
(US edition)
by Robert Dovers

reviewed by Stijn Heijs

Robert Dovers is an Australian who served in the Australian Imperial Force from age nineteen. Shortly after his discharge from the army after the war, Dovers joined the Australian National Antarctic Research expedition in different periods. In 1947 to 1949 he served as a surveyor with the pioneer party on Heard Island. In 1950 he spent six months on the Australian station at Macquarie Island. Then, in 1951 he joined for one year the third French Antarctic Expedition as a doggy man in Adélie Land. He was the only Australian among French explorers. The expedition was organized by M. Paul-Emile Victor. Dovers’ book, Huskies/My Friends, the Huskies, describes this one year period with the French. This expedition had a remarkable start when their station at Port Martin was fully destroyed by a fire. They re-embarked on the Tottan immediately to return to France. But some time later they anchored at Pointe Géologie and decided to stay with seven men and the dogs.

In the expedition to which he was attached, Dovers had three teams of huskies that were in his care. He trained them and they trained him. As he had so much to do with the dog teams during his stay, he concentrated on the behavior and psychology of the sledge dogs. I believe that there has never before been such a vivid description of sledge dogs and their hard, extraordinary life. And as described on the dust jacket: “The characters of the individual dogs are drawn so clearly – Boss, Bjorn, Fram the leaders, Aspirin the clown, Ifaut the beautiful, Helen the little dark she-devil and the others – that one comes to know them as one knows one’s own dogs.”

During this period of Dovers’ Antarctic exploration, one item of study was to maintain the first year-round study of the life of those remarkable emperor penguins. There is much written about these birds, seals and other penguins in Dovers’ book, along with brilliant descriptions of Antarctic scenery and weather.

I can fully agree with the remarks of Sir Douglas Mawson who wrote the foreword to the book: “So fully and ably are the ways and lives of the dogs pictured herein, that this book is not only a story of Antarctic adventure but also will remain a valuable record of habits and temperament of these animals.” Dovers’ assessment of the psychology and pack behaviour of the Inuit Dog is sensitive and moving.

Huskies, by Robert Dovers, was first published in 1957 by G. Bell and Sons Ltd, London. It contains 219 pages and 19 black and white pictures (nine with Inuit Dogs). The same book, published in 1957 by Farra, Straus and Cudahy, New York, under the title My Friends, the Huskies, contains 236 pages and 29 pictures (fourteen with Inuit Dogs). It is remarkable that the text of the U.S. published book is a copy of the UK edition yet each book has a different number of pictures and only some part of the pictures in both books are the same. Six pictures in the UK edition do not appear in the U.S. edition. Both versions are out of print but available via several used books/internet sites such as and and the price is between $5-10(US) + shipping.

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