The Fan Hitch Volume 2, Number 3, May 2000

Newsletter of the Inuit Sled Dog

Table of Contents

From the Editor
*
Nunavut Quest 2000:
More Than a Race
*
Nunavut Quest 2000:
Drivers' Meeting
*
Nunavut Quest 2000:
On the Trail
*
Nunavut Quest 2000:
Race Results
*
Poem: Dogs of the Sledge Trail
*
Inuit Demand Inquiry of Historical Dog Extermination Policy
*
Memories
*
Nunavut's Official Symbols
*
Niels Pedersen, D.V.M:
The Veterinary Service in Greenland
*
ISDI Foundation:
Acknowledgements
*
Sled Dog Problems in Iqaluit
*
Baking: Dog Cookie Recipe
*
Crafts: Save That Hair
*
Behavioral Notebook:
Social Order
*
Book Review:
Polar Dream
*
In My Humble Opinion: 
Sharing the Trail
*
Update:
Ihe ISDVMA Meeting


Navigating This Site

Index of articles by subject

Index of back issues by volume number

Search The Fan Hitch


Articles to download and print

Ordering Ken MacRury's Thesis

Our comprehensive list of resources

Talk to The Fan Hitch

The Fan Hitch home page

ISDI home page



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: http://thefanhitch.org  PostScript welcomes your letters, stories, comments and The editorial staff reserves the right to edit submissions used for publication.

Contents of The Fan Hitch Website and its publications  are protected by international copyright laws. No photo, drawing or text may be reproduced in any form without written consent. Webmasters please note: written consent is necessary before linking this site to yours! Please forward requests to Sue Hamilton, 55 Town Line Rd., Harwinton, Connecticut  06791, USA or mail@thefanhitch.org

A Traditional and Modern Arctic: 
Seeking a Balance Between Sled Dogs and People
by Sue Hamilton

As recently as May of this year, Iqaluit continued to wrestle with the issue of avoiding more disastrous dog-human encounters.  The death two years ago of a six year old killed by a team of dogs staked out on the ice 300 metres from the town shoreline prompted the current discussion.  According to several residents, the young girl went out to the dogs one night in February without adult supervision or the knowledge of her parents who didn't realize she was missing until the following morning. The dogs were all destroyed.

This incident and subsequent town meetings were the subject of an April 25, 2000 article in the Wall Street Journal that some of you may have read.  The piece was roundly criticized by dog owners and some non-owners as being a gross misrepresentation, a betrayal, omitting pertinent facts, as well as an attempt to characterize the debate as one between Inuit who have embraced modern conveniences and residents who moved to town from the south and wish to maintain working dog teams. Not mentioned was the problem of poorly cared for dogs allowed to run loose and breed at will, or the lack of oversight of childrens' activities and their conduct around dogs by some parents.

Team owners are eager to avoid dog attacks on humans. Unfortunately they are in the same situation as responsible kennel owners anywhere in the world. The very fact that they are  highly visible and identifiable by their dog team activity makes them more of a target of accusations of being the "source" of the problem and thus legislation to control it. While at the same time, irresponsible pet owners and some parents are neither as compliant or as compelled to do the right thing.

The Fan Hitch is most fortunate to have the following commentary from Iqaluit resident Julia Krizan.  I wish to express my gratitude to Julia for taking time form her hectic schedule to offer her perspective.


Peter and Julia Krizan's Canadian Inuit Dog team traveling on Frobisher Bay, Baffin Island
                                                                                                        Krizan photo

This short article is supposed to give a more objective view on the dog issue in Iqaluit than presented by the article of Elena Cherney published in the Wall Street Journal, April 25th 2000.  I don't know whether I am neutral because I am a dog team owner myself, but at least I would like to clarify some facts without getting into too much detail.

First of all, last month, the Legislative Assembly of Nunavut declared the qimmiq (officially called "Canadian Inuit [Husky] Dog" or Canis familiaris borealis) the official animal of Nunavut.  At the beginning of the year, the Legislative Assembly had asked the people of Nunavut, which animal would represent their history and present life most. The "ferocious", "man eating" "menace", feared by most Inuit and adored by only a handful of business oriented "whites" [according to that Wall Street Journal reporter.  Ed.] won the honour across Nunavut.  For most people living up here, it was no surprise.  These dogs are a very vivid part of Inuit history and they are still on the mind and in the heart of most elders and their families. 

It is true that survival in these days does not depend on a good dog team anymore and that snow machines have replaced most of the teams. But very many of the hunters support the idea of keeping these dogs in the traditional way as working dogs. We, the dog team owners, receive a lot of support and respect from the Inuit community. It is always dangerous to generalize and I do believe that not all Inuit want these dogs in town.  Therefore, it is up to us to keep the teams in a proper way and to educate people, especially young people, who grow up in a "modern" quickly changing world, where ideologies, values and traditions get lost with disturbing speed. One of those values being lost in the transition is respect. Again, this is no generalization, but it is no rare picture seeing children throwing rocks at chained dogs or even clubbing puppies.  It will take some effort from both sides, but it is possible to have people and dog teams living in close proximity. Many northern communities set an example for this. 

Another big issue in Iqaluit is the problem of stray dogs. Everybody knows the story of the cute little puppy, which gets neglected when it is note cute anymore, starts to eat too much or requires some work. Unfortunately, Iqaluit has quite a variety of these strays and accidents happen very frequently. It is true that some of the stray dogs have Inuit dog blood in their veins (understandibly!), others are of this typical "stray appearance" - composed off Rottweiler, German Shepherd, dachshund, retriever; just to mention a view of the town's favourite breeds. Even though a very dedicated veterinarian is visiting Iqaluit twice a year and his charges are low compared to the south, only a minority of the town's dog population is neutered or spayed and this is where the whole problem starts and everybody can imagine how it will end.

At the end of April, the Iqaluit Town Council listened to our (the dog team owners) arguments and the proposal of some town residents to banish all dog teams at least one km out of town. The outcome of this meeting is that so-called dog areas will be created within sight of houses, in areas where the dogs can be supervised and socialized properly. Dog team owners, town council and the public will have input in the designation of these areas. This might mean the end to the practice of several dog team owners who keep their dogs next to their houses (as we do!) but we feel that it is a fair approach against the "banishing proposal", which would have made it nearly impossible to keep a dog team in Iqaluit. 

The accident two years ago was very tragic and shocked everybody, including dog team owners. It is our all responsibility to prevent tragedies like this in the future by working together. Every one-sided approach, be it the banishing proposal or publishing of biased information, is a step back from our common goal, which should be to create a safe environment for people and dogs.

Julia Krizan
Iqaluit, Nunavut
May 30, 2000

Return to top of page