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

Editor's/Publisher's Statement
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.

Photo: Nadine Gerth; Reproduced with permission
of The Company of Biologists

Inuit Sled Dogs Achieve Distinguished Visibility

by Sue Hamilton

Although infrequently seen, Inuit Sled Dogs are not new to the covers of some books and leisure-time reading periodicals. But what I received in the mail last month brought tears of joy to my eyes and a hopeful heart. I admit to not having done a search to back up my assertion, but I do believe this is the very first time that Inuit Sled Dogs have appeared on the cover of a scientific journal. And what a spectacular picture it is, not only for the visual experience, but also for what it represents.

It's hard to believe that three years ago I received an email from a student research scientist in Germany asking to purchase a copy of Ken MacRury's master's thesis, The Inuit Dog: Its Provenance, Environment and History. That first contact has since blossomed into not only a friendship, but also a tremendous learning opportunity for me and, hopefully, for readers of The Fan Hitch as well.

Nadine Gerth is a member of a team of German biologists who have been studying the physiology of Inuit Sled Dogs, doing their fieldwork in Greenland. The team leader, Dr. J. Matthias Starck, has been gracious enough to allow Nadine to let me enjoy a peek into this research project. And Nadine, as busy as she is between her research and her studies, has been generous with her time, having written articles for The Fan Hitch about her work (September 2007, June 2008, September 2008). That her name was the most searched upon words for visitors to The Fan Hitch in 2008, says something about her popularity and that of her subject matter!

Nadine was first author of “Muscle plasticity of Inuit sled dogs in Greenland” as submitted to the Journal of Experimental Biology (JEB) for publication. It was indeed published – a really nice thing to have accomplished (see review). But the JEB staff took her work up a notch by selecting one of her images for the cover of the March 27, 2009 issue in which the article appears!

The publication of a scientific article about Inuit Sled Dogs is extraordinarily rare these days (more had appeared in journals such as Polar Record, especially around the early years of the Falkland Islands Dependencies Survey/British Antarctic Survey). To me, seeing Nadine's spectacular photograph on the cover of the prestigious Journal of Experimental Biology is as exciting as listening to Handel's Hallelujah Chorus or the final choral movement of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, or learning of the arctic birth of traditional Inuit Sled Dog puppies where none had been born for many, many generations. To me, the cover photo gives the breed a purpose in a new dimension, yet another reason why it is worth preserving as the aboriginal sled dog of the circumpolar north. And I hope that many northerners in Canada and Greenland see just how important, how essential their dog is and can be to them as well as to a world of admirers of all backgrounds, from serious recreational mushers to geneticists studying the origins of canid domestication or to biologists studying physiology. I hope that is part of the message Nadine Gerth's photograph sends to everyone who can help secure a future for the Inuit Sled Dog. I hope this photo serves as an inspiration to them.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Journal of Experimental Biology for publishing "Muscle plasticity of Inuit sled dogs in Greenland" by Nadine Gerth, Steffen Sum, Sue Jackson, and J. Matthias Starck. Specifically I would also like to thank JEBs Andrew Spooner for granting permission to use the cover photo in this article and offering a nice discount to those Inuit Dog enthusiasts who might like to buy their own copy of this JEB issue; and to JEB publishing editor Michaela Handel for her brilliant choice of the cover photo! I would also once again like to express my gratitude to Dr. Matthias Starck for allowing Nadine to offer a glimpse of the team's field work to The Fan Hitch readers. And we are all indebted to the hunters/dog team owners in Greenland for allowing their dogs to be studied and analyzed. And I hope you will all join me in thanking Nadine Gerth for dedication to her work, her enthusiasm, her willingness to share with others, her respect for and sensitivity towards the culture of North Greenland, and her passion for Inuit Dogs. And please join me in wishing her the best of luck as she prepares to complete her studies and defend her Ph.D. thesis, based on her work on the physiology of Inuit Dogs, to become Dr. Nadine Gerth!

The Company of Biologists Ltd has very generously offered a special price for the March 27, 2009 issue of Journal of Experimental Biology of £6 ($10USD) which includes shipping and  handling – that's one-third off the regular price – to readers who mention they saw this offer in The Fan Hitch. Purchase may be made by calling 441223 426164 or faxing 441223 426070 with American Express, MasterCard or Visa details (number, expiry and security code). Payment may also be made by check in either British pounds or US dollars, made out to "The Company of Biologists Ltd", and mailed to: The Company of Biologists Ltd, Bidder Building, 140 Cowley Road, Cambridge CB4 0DL, United Kingdom. Email contact:
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