The Fan Hitch Volume 1, Number 3, January 1999

Newsletter of the Inuit Sled Dog

Table of Contents

From the Editor
Dreams & Passions!
The Media: I said that!?!
A Chat about Breeding: Gait
Inuit Dogs on the Web
Behavioral Notebook: Getting Personal
Janice Howls: Big Dogs are Here to Stay
IMHO: On Being Doggie

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Editor's/Publisher's Statement
              Editor: Sue Hamilton
              Webmaster: Mark Hamilton
The Fan Hitch Website and Publications of the Inuit Sled Dog– the quarterly Journal (retired in 2018) and PostScript – are dedicated to the aboriginal landrace traditional Inuit Sled Dog as well as related Inuit culture and traditions. 

PostScript is published intermittently as material becomes available. Online access is free at:  PostScript welcomes your letters, stories, comments and The editorial staff reserves the right to edit submissions used for publication.

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Sketches from a Behavioral Notebook:
Getting Personal

by Sue Hamilton

Anyone who has hung around dogs for any length of time has seen how they identify each other, especially dogs that are strangers. Olfactory recognition is an important way for canids to size each other up. We've been to enough dog events of all kinds to observe how, for the most part, all manner of dogs engage in a substantial degree of anogenital evaluation to check each other out, while they rely on the sniffing of hands, pant legs and shoes to get a sense of humans. Inuit Dogs similarly scent explore their own species. In their relationship with humans however, our Inuit Dogs and many of the ones we have met on our Arctic travels think nothing of performing enthusiastic crotch sniffing. Not to say that other breeds don't engage in this activity, but it is our observation that their frequency by no means matches that of ISDs. We have always provided preemptive warnings to strangers when introducing them to our dogs; "watch out, they like jump on you, they like to kiss faces, be careful they don't knock you down while they play". Since the arrival of our Inuit Dogs, we have learned to quickly admonish the unsuspecting and uninitiated to "beware of getting nosed in your private parts".

Even more amusing than the bug-eyed expression on the faces of the visitors after they have been assessed is their surprise when an entire dog head goes rooting up underneath a jacket, from the front or the back, as high as can possibly be reached. What ARE they looking for?!?!

We have this notion that the relationship between our Inuit Dogs and us is somewhat different that exists between our malamutes and us. The mals treat us as humans, or perhaps more correctly as higher ranking non-dogs. The Inuit Dogs regard us more as higher ranking members of their pack structure. Perhaps this could explain why they (and I mean here to include the dogs we have met in the arctic) have no reservations of sniffing humans in a manner similar to how they check out other dogs. Is it reasonable to speculate Inuit Dogs may have an easier time of fitting some humans in to their pack than some humans may have adapting these dogs in to the hominid social milieu? Could this be one characteristic that distinguishes a working dog from a family pet?

Have you observed or experienced this difference in behavior between Inuit Sled Dogs and other breeds?
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