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The Fan Hitch, Journal of the Inuit Sled Dog, is published four times a year. It is available at no cost online at: http://thefanhitch.org.
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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.
Qiniliq can barely be seen traversing the snow-walled
back yard 'canyons'. Photo: Hamilton
It was in my December 2010 editorial where I mentioned we did not yet have a snow cover. And here it is March already and, mercifully, near the end of a horrific winter. Spring has officially arrived and has visibly begun to arrive as well here in northwest Connecticut. There's still snow on the ground, but the surface of the pens has cleared of compacted ice without the often protracted several inches of wall-to-wall standing water. The twice or thrice daily schlepping of hot water from the house to thaw the kennel buckets is almost down to nil, although we're not quite ready to re-attach the water hose to the frost-free valve up by the kennel. Winter kennel chores would have been far more palatable had we been able to get the dogs in harness more that we did. We run in a wildlife foundation area whose extensive trail system is open to the public for a variety of uses except motorized vehicles. For the most part we peacefully co-exist with the deer, most hikers, joggers, wild-eyed horses and their riders, cross country skiers and walkers of dogs usually on leashes (but not the ones off leash and out of control). We don't have to fear being run down by that category of reckless snowmobilers who drink and drive, speed and refuse to make a cautious pass. Besides, aside from the cacophony our dogs create until the snub line is released, we really enjoy the quiet sounds of rhythmic footfalls, swishing runners and the wind blowing through the evergreens. After a really big snowfall we rely on the cross country skiers in particular to pack a bit of the snow. Surely Inuit Dogs don't need a groomed trail, but early on in the season we got a nearly two-foot dump, and that was that. No trail users, save for the rare snowshoer, wanted to set foot, ski or runner on that surface. And with multiple weekly snow storms accumulating over six feet (1.8 m) for the season plus a couple of freezing rain storms, all of us who enjoyed being in the winter woods knew we were done for. Our dogs, who sensed something didn't compute – snow plus cold should've equaled sledding, but didn't – finally gave up anticipating the daily ride in the dog truck. Although we dutifully blew their pens free of snow after every storm so they couldn't just walk over the 6 ft high fencing, the back yard and large exercise pen (the perimeters of both had to be repeatedly "moated" to prevent dogs from easily going over those fences) provided plenty of obstacle courses and very deep snow for entertainment and workouts. All our Inuit Dogs are good at accepting realities, making do with what they are provided and finding other ways to have fun.
Repeatedly leaping 'leads' with no chance of an icy plunge
was loads of fun for Monkey. Photo: Hamilton
Spring hasn't arrived everywhere The Fan Hitch is being read, but the March issue seems to be the right time to once again get up on my soapbox and extol the virtues of "adopting" retired or semi-retired arctic Inuit Dogs. In general, their original owners seek less environmentally and physically demanding homes for these dogs whom they love – around eight years old but sometimes younger or a little older – who, while still quite vigorous, cannot keep up with the younger team dogs. Dogs to be placed are generally quite capable of harness work and seem to transition well from fan to tandem hitch. Many soon learn to crave the extra attention that is easier to come by in a below-the-tree line setting and are happy to just to "hang out" with their new favorite people. These dogs are not your neighbor's Golden Retriever. They can still be tough and demanding, and they require just the right person with the right set up for a successful transition and a mutually rewarding relationship. If you think you are up to the challenge, contact me.
Monkey, Mark and Romulus. Bonding began with introductions
at the airport. Within a very few weeks, both dogs and humans felt
as if they had enjoyed each other's company forever!
Wishing you smooth ice, narrow leads,