From the Editor: An Outsider's Perceptions
The Gaze of Animal Life
In the News
Conducting Dog Feeding Trials on the Antarctic Huskies:
a behind the scenes look at how it got done!
Further Experiments on the nutrition of sledge dogs
How Use of the name Inuit became official
An Examination of Traditional Knowledge:
the case of the Inuit Sled Dog, part 4
Chinook Project visits Northern Labrador
Media Review: Qimmit - A Clash of Two Truths
IMHO: In Transition
Index: Volume 12, The Fan Hitch
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The Fan Hitch, Journal of the Inuit Sled Dog International, is published four times a year. It is available at no cost online at: https://thefanhitch.org.
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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.
Qimmiq at lead in front of her brother and sister.
by Mark Hamilton
Here in New England the transition of seasons is neither quick nor straightforward. Right now, as we move from summer into fall, we have cooler daytime temperatures and some wonderfully crisp overnights. At least that's what we are experiencing at the moment. We will also continue to have days that are hot and humid with overnight temperatures that offer no real relief from those of daytime. You see, it's normal for us at this time of the year to be alternately sampling the promise of fall climate and the misery of what we endured during the summer. Our transformation from summer to fall is a period of tantalizing previews of what is to come in contrast to our recent past.
Our dogs have taken notice of the cooler temperatures and they are finding the "frisky air" stimulating. Instead of being cranky with each other as they endure another day of a heat wave, the dogs are now behaving quite playfully with each other and with us. The dogs playfully mouth each other and break into long, hard dashes in our wooded exercise pen, all just for the shear joy of it.
We lost Siku over the summer. Her sister Qimmiq (the last of the four we kept out of those sixteen Pond Inlet puppies), is living alone for the first time in her fourteen years. But her run is next to Romulus and Monkey's pen. Since she loves all the males in our kennel, Qimmiq finds living next to Romulus enjoyable, plus he spends most afternoons with her. She also spends some time each morning with Qiniliq. As much as she enjoys his company, Qiniliq enjoys her company even more.
Oddly enough, Qimmiq actually enjoys living next to Monkey as well, and Monkey likes being next to Qimmiq. The girls have no love for each other and certainly they would fight if it weren't for the fencing in between them. But they share a relationship that both take pleasure in…they 'argue' with each other through the chain link mesh. This never degenerates into an actual fence fight, and we take this as a sign that it’s a congenial activity for both of them. If you look at their faces while they are interacting, their expressions show that they are treating these encounters as a game. The fact is, more times than not, their tails are happily wagging while they pretend to spar with each other. But it is also possible their activity is just another expression of pragmatic arctic behavior – "Why get all worked up and burn all that energy if I can't actually rip her liver out?" All of our arctic dogs have exhibited this trait, choosing to conserve their energy for when they'll really need it.
All-in-all it's a fairly peaceful time of the year, if you ignore the odd Atlantic hurricane that periodically comes roaring up the eastern seaboard. Summertime activities tail off as we move into the more dog-involved fall training season. Soon enough today's preview of the coming fall weather will become our reality. Early morning temperatures will be at or dip below 40º F (5ºC). Mornings will find the dogs and us out in the solitude of the forest, working on command training while getting us and them into running shape.
It's a great time of year here – cooler temperatures, vibrant fall foliage, and the opportunity to spend more time outside enjoying all that's going on in the company of a bunch of dogs who find nothing else so enjoyable as pulling us and our training cart on trails covered with crisp and colorful leaves.
I think all mushers live for this moment, and that the time is at hand. So, here's my wish for you and your dogs to have a great season.