The Fan Hitch Volume 2, Number 4, August 2000

Newsletter of the Inuit Sled Dog

Table of Contents

From the Editor
Raising Sled Dogs
The Good, the Bad and the ‘Eskimo’ Dog
The Russian Connection
Honoured Symbol Under Fire
Iqaluit Team Owner Speaks Out
The Homecoming
Niels Pedersen, D.V.M:
Challenging Folk Remedies
Janice Howls:
Maintaining the ISD Roots
Book Review: 
Portrait of Antarctica
First Hand Account:
Exploration of Antarctica
Dog Ownership in Modern Society
Baking: Carnivore Brownies
Behaviour Notebook:
 Silent and Induced Heat
ISDI Summit Postponed
Memorable Inuit Dog Encounters

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:  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

Visiting witha Pond Inlet team                                        Hamilton photo

In My Humble Opinion: 
Dog Ownership in a Modern Society

by Mark Hamilton

These days someone could easily get the impression that there are very few people around who actually like dogs. It is increasingly common for people with more than a dog or two to find themselves running afoul of existing or proposed ordinances restricting the number of dogs they are allowed to keep. Some locations go further still, seeking to restrict even the breeds of dogs that their residents are permitted to own. 

Viewed in that light, you too may now be questioning the actual size of the pro-dog constituency. But many people do like dogs. We all know that. In the United States dogs are second only to cats in popularity, and the shift to the number two position is a relatively new occurrence. The human/canine bond goes back to our earliest history. The development of our species, as well as the dog, depended upon interaction and cooperation with the other. So to what do we attribute the increasing hostility toward dogs, and just how broad based is that hostility?

As far as I've seen, these ordinances and restrictions are all being generated by local governing bodies. When I've had the opportunity to question representatives of those governments, and in the news articles I've read reporting on still more of these situations, impetus for regulation is usually placed on the need to respond to existing problems: between a dog owner and the local government, between a dog owner and neighbors, or both. Regulations written all universally ban or restrict a breed or activity as a substitute for addressing the specific problem with any given person or dog.

In an effort to try to understand the position of local government officials, I've imagined myself in their shoes. For instance, suppose a five year old on his/her swing set is bitten by a neighbor's dog.  What do I do? Or what if I get a half a dozen phone calls and a couple of letters from residents in the town's newest condominium complex complaining about barking dogs on an adjacent property. Now what action do I take? Have you noticed there was no initial consideration as to whether or not I should act, or am required by law to act, only what action I should take? This is the seductive side to governance, "I'm in charge, I should do something". 

Experience teaches us that it is impossible to legislate morality, but many municipalities doggedly continue to try as new laws proliferate. By definition, only the law-abiding voluntarily obey laws. In the case of dog owners, the law-abiding are those who most likely are behaving responsibly in the first place. This leaves the irresponsible wholly unaffected and only the law abiding with their liberty restricted. Douglas Adams, in his five part trilogy "The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy" made the point that anyone who wants to be in charge can not be trusted to be in charge. While I don't subscribe to conspiracy theories and am not an anarchist, I fear that could apply in some of these cases. 

Dog owners can never be fully aware of all the personal agenda of local officials or their neighbors. Written town plans seldom cover the level of detail that dog ownership represents. We are unlikely to know which, if any, town officials are members of animal rights groups, for example, but we do know that many animal rights groups target dog sledding and dog sledding events. We cannot know how many residents in our towns belong to animal rights groups or the degree to which their personal agenda influence local officials. The thing is, only when we have this kind of information can we assess whether restrictions of our liberties are truly "unintended" consequence of their regulations. 

It's enough to make you want to cry, or move to a less populated area. But when you look around you'll find there's no place left to hide. "Dog issues" have erupted even in arctic Canada, which may leave crying the only viable alternative. Maybe we need to find just the right ear in which to cry. Or maybe each and everyone one of us needs to get active in our local communities. Be pro-active about the restriction of our rights. If we don't work in our own best interest, we have no reason to expect others in our "modern society" to respect our interests.

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