The Fan Hitch   Volume 17, Number 1, December 2014

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

From the Editor: Heading Out and Coming Home

Far Fur Country Documentary Projects Come to Fruition!

The Epidemiology of Rabies in the Canadian North

Okpik’s Dream en Route to Completion

Puvirnituq Snow Festival

Book Review: How to Build an Iglu and a Qamutiik

IMHO: The Best Laid Plans

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Ordering Ken MacRury's Thesis

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Defining the Inuit Dog

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Editor: Sue Hamilton
Webmaster: Mark Hamilton
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The Fan Hitch, Journal of the Inuit Sled Dog.
From the Editor....

And I think over again

My small adventures

When from a shore wind I drifted out

In my kayak

And I thought I was in danger.
My fears,
Those small ones

That I thought so big,
For all the vital things 
I had to get and to reach.
And yet, there is only One great thing,
The only thing.
To live and see in huts and on journeys

The great day that dawns,
And the light that fills the world.

Knud Rasmussen was with a group of Kitlinuharmiut (Copper Eskimo) Inuit
when he recorded this song. The Report of the Fifth Thule Expedition 1921-1924.

Heading Out and Coming Home

Being out with a team of dogs requires huge effort yet offers great rewards. Just the preparations, especially if one incudes the dogs’ acquisition, years of raising and training and myriad of other details it takes to ultimately hook up a dog team to its tug lines, can be daunting. So why do we do it? Because of the beauty of the ride along the way, watching the dogs happy in their work, the thrill of the adventures both anticipated and unknown; all this despite the inherent risks of the journey be it a sudden white out, encounters with unfriendly wild animals or, in our case, unleashed dogs somewhere ahead of clueless and careless owners blithering along a wooded trail while their “happy meal”-sized yappers think they can take on a team of Inuit Dogs! We travel by dog team because this is what our dogs…and we along with them…were meant to do.

Despite how tough the journeys sometimes can be and how gratifying they usually are, it is good to see the end of those runs…the twinkling lights of the community welcoming you home after travel over rough sea ice or the sight of the dog truck, the home – albeit temporary – away from home, after rounding that last bend on a wooded trail. No matter how excited the dogs are to be heading out, they seem to pull more enthusiastically towards the end of a run as they anticipate reaching their workday’s conclusion.

I see this as an analogy for the three film documentarians and their projects covered in past issues of The Fan Hitch. Kevin Nikkel is “home” after his odyssey. On the Trail of the Far Fur Country and Romance of the Far Fur Country have been completed. Katarina Soukup and Laura Riteveld can see those twinkling lights of “home” with Okpik’s Dream. Independent filmmaker Sandra Skibsted is still somewhere out on the trail with The Sledge Patrol: Guardians of Greenland and we wish her a safe and successful journey hoping she, too, comes “home” soon. The Fan Hitch eagerly looks forward to tracking Skibsted’s progress along the way.

In addition to learning about the Far Fur Country and Okpik’s Dream projects, in December’s issue of The Fan Hitch you will also learn of an exciting opportunity to experience first hand Inuit life at the March 2015 Snow Festival in Puvirnituq, Nunavik. And in this issue you will also read how to construct two icons of the Canadian North – the iglu and the qamutiq.

There is also a very special request from the co-author of a still in-progress book project who is eagerly seeking recollections from Inuit Elders about rabies in the North. Their input is strongly encouraged.

And in his IMHO, Mark opines how despite his dedicated effort to complete his winter preparedness chores, his dogs have something to the contrary on their own to-do list.

Here’s hoping your seasonal to-dos are done in time for playing in the snow (or sand, depending on your side of the equator) and for enjoying this holiday time.

Wishing you smooth ice and narrow leads,
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