The Fan Hitch Volume 12, Number 2, March 2010

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

From the Editor

Recollections: Life on the Land

Sled Dogs of Russia

An Examination of Traditional Knowledge:
The Case of the Inuit Sled Dog, Part 2

In the News

For the Love of a Retired Sled Dog

The Chinook Project to Visit Labrador

Behavior Notebook: Some Aspects of Dog Behavior

Behavior Notebook: More on Boss Dogs

About Previous Articles in The Fan Hitch

IMHO: Timelessness

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Index of articles by subject

Index of back issues by volume number

Search The Fan Hitch

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Ordering Ken MacRury's Thesis

Our comprehensive list of resources

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ISDI home page

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Editor-in-Chief: Sue Hamilton
Webmaster: Mark Hamilton
Print Edition: Imaged and distributed by the IPL students of the Ulluriaq School, Kangiqsualujjuaq, Nunavik
The Fan Hitch, Journal of the Inuit Sled Dog International, is published four times a year. It is available at no cost online at:

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The Inuit Sled Dog International

The Inuit Sled Dog International (ISDI) is a consortium of enthusiasts whose goal is the preservation of this ancient arctic breed in its purest form as a working dog. The ISDI's efforts are concentrated on restoring the pure Inuit Dog to its native habitat. The ISDI's coordinators welcome to your comments and questions.

ISDI Coordinator Canada:
Geneviève Montcombroux, Box 206, Inwood, MB R0C 1P0;
ISDI Coordinator USA:
Sue Hamilton, 55 Town Line Road, Harwinton, CT 06791,
Behavior Notebook….

How a (well socialized) wolf greets his human friend.
                                                             Courtesy M. Fine

More on Boss Dogs

by Drummond Small

I was most interested in the "Boss Dogs & Lead Dogs" article in the December 2009 issue of The Fan Hitch and immediately recognised many of the behavioural traits from the Huns. My boss dog was Nasr, an arrogant big so-and-so with a finely developed sense of his own importance. As I took over the team from its previous driver, the social niceties of the team were already pretty well sorted out. Nasr must have thought me a rather dense specimen of Homo sapiens. For the best part of two months in the autumn of my first year, he tried unstintingly to show me the acceptable social behaviour between boss dog and driver. He would jump up on me with his paws on my shoulders and proceed to nip at my chin and neck. He would then stop and put his head up in the air as though waiting for me to respond somehow. Then 'somehow' eventually dawned on me and I started to nip at his exposed throat in return. I had apparently cracked the code. From then on that was my standard greeting from Nasr. He always had to get his nip in at me before he showed just how much he trusted me by exposing his throat. Either that or I just got a pretty weird dog who liked having his throat bitten!

The parallel with the article extends to Nasr's brother Hamad. They always ran front pair and were a total pair together and could even act as very temporary leaders. Nasr ran on the right and responded to the 'auk, auk' shout which we used for turn right command. Hamad was a lefty and kew what 'irrrra' (go left) meant. I was blessed by a stunning leader in Myrna, a pure white bitch with orange eyebrows. She was not very heavy at only 65lbs (29.5kgs) and not the most consistent worker, but a superb leader. She knew exactly what needed to be done and when. She could adjust a compass course in five degree steps depending on the commands given her. Mind you, once on a compass course in mist or fog she usually led with an accuracy of plus or minus 2 to 3 degrees! She always knew to lead the team up-slope on a traverse especially when following another team; crevasses were rarely ever crossed at anything other than 90 degrees and her turn to park the sledge parallel to another sledge and about 25 feet (7.6 meters) away (room enough to put up the tent between the sledges) was a joy to behold. She would pull away from the other sledge then bring the team round in a gentle sweep keeping pulling power on the main trace all the way. Ahh me.... memories.

Drummond Small was the Hun’s "doggy man" for the British Antarctic Survey from 1971-1973.
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