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Editorial: Defining the Inuit Sled Dog
Featured Inuit Dog Owner: Sylvia Feder
All the Wrong Reasons
Last Trip of the Century to the North Pole
Bering Bridge Expedition - 10 Years Later
Ways of the North
Behavioral Notebook: Watching TV
Poem: Standing Invitation
Video Review: Dog of the Midnight Sun
Janice Howls: Observations
In My Humble Opinion: Work, et. al.
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Pages from the Behavior Notebook:
Television and the Inuit Sled Dog
by Sue Hamilton
We recently received the following from Jill Pinkwater who, with her husband Daniel, owns a female out of one of the dogs we brought down pregnant from Pond Inlet. Jill said, "Lulu is a big television watcher. She loves the animal channel -- floppy eared dogs looking like Maxine [a yellow labrador retriever] excite her as do wolves. However, we bought her some tapes of wolf documentaries when she was younger. She recognizes wolves she's already seen -- watches them calmly. New wolves get her very excited. She likes sea mammals very much but does not look at snakes on the screen. Anyone having trouble believing this can come watch with her. Lately, Lulu has become fond of certain cartoons and she LOVES the Teletubbies. I am not kidding. She gets very excited and tries to get inside the TV with them. Go figure." And quite independently from Jill's communication, Carlo Obligato, who owns a litter sister to Lulu, wrote, "Baffin was first drawn to the TV from the sounds emanating therefrom. However, thereafter she appeared to actually be able to discern the images and began talking back. This is not uncommon when she hears wildlife sounds from any number of nature shows we have viewed on TV."
That dogs watch television is not so unusual. Yet 3 or 4 our our ISDs have been reported to take a great interest in the boob tube, especially when nature shows are on. More may be interested in TV, if permitted to lounge in front of it. Perhaps what seems to make this interest in television unusual is that these 3 or 4 people have had many other dogs of various breeds over the years who didn't watch TV. Wondering if there was something characteristic of the breed to which TV watching can be attributed, I consulted with Laurie Hiestand who holds a PhD in animal behavior. Her principle work and her doctoral thesis involved comparing the behavior of wolves and domestic dogs. When I asked Laurie if what has been reported may be breed specific behavior, she replied, "Re the TV watching, I haven't heard anything about it, but it wouldn't surprise me if it was breed specific. In my thesis I speculate that more wolf-like dogs would be more attentive visually, though I was discussing primarily attention to vertical objects. But I wouldn't be surprised if this was also true of any kind of movement, even movement unassociated with scent cues (however, it is interesting that ISDs that are so explorative in an olfactory way should be riveted by two dimensional movement in the absence of scent cues). And why primarily nature shows? Try putting Oprah on once and see how they like it - or maybe you better not, in case they do!"
I'd like to hear from those of you whose Inuit Dogs are fascinated by television and what does and does not hold their attention.