The Fan Hitch Volume 3, Number 4, August 2001

Newsletter of the Inuit Sled Dog

Table of Contents

Guest Editorial
Featured Inuit Dog Owner: Dr. Lucien Ockovsky
The First Official ISDI Gathering
Nunavut Quest 2001 Diary
The Song of the Glacier
An Arctic "Fish Story"
Defining ISD Purity
Distemper in the North
Brucellosis in Arctic Marine Mammals: A threat to team dogs?
Poem: But, I must be dreaming, that's years ago...
Book Review: the latest Coppinger book
Janice Howls: Who Belongs in the ISDI?
Page from a Behaviour Notebook: Inuit Dog Stereotypes
Frankly Speaking: Zombies

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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.

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

                                                                                          Nora Sanders photo

Janice Howls: Who Belongs in the ISDI?

by Janice Dougherty

In one sense, anyone can be a "member" of the Inuit Sled Dog International (ISDI), because its newsletter, The Fan Hitch, is available free online, and in a print version for the cost of mailing. As such, anyone who wishes to learn about the breed has the newsletter and the website, with its references to other printed material, as well as the members as resources. So no one is excluded in that respect.

The ISDI is not a private nor a public kennel club, at least not in the usual sense of the word. And although within the ISDI there exists a resource for documenting the authenticity, or for lack of a better word, "purity", or correctness, of individual specimens of this landrace/breed of dog, it is not a registrating organization per se. Part of the intention of ISDI is as an information continuation of the difficult recovery work of the Eskimo Dog Research Project initiated by Carpenter, McGrath, MacRury and company. It is an information gathering and disseminating organization. The bulk of what is observed, discussed and analyzed from different perspectives on these dogs is published in the newsletter.

However, many if not all of the members, no matter the size or extent of their financial involvement with dogs have a more serious personal commitment to preserving the breed as intact, correct, viable and healthy, than is common in the general dog fancy or sled dog sport fraternity. Many come to ISDI from previous involvement with other northern/polar/arctic/traditional sled dog breeds. All have their own individual reasons for needing a more satisfying, ethical, more biologically sound, more balanced approach to dogs than they perceived was the case in their previous experience with dogs, breed clubs, kennel clubs, vanities, duplicities, and the arbitrary value judgments that were experienced before. None of the members wants to revisit those disappointments. ISDI is a fresh start for a serious, sincere, experienced and committed group of people. The members already know what went wrong in other areas of dog hobbies, what needs to be improved but is beyond fixing due to its sheer mass and long term mis-direction. We have all seen other breeds of dog change drastically in physical, behavioral and medical profiles, and we don't want to go through it again. 

And in dog breeds where there is still some influence of performance, the numbers of those producing performance bred animals is dwindling in favor of those who can sell superfluous animals to the pet trade. The performance-bred dog and the pet/companion focused dogs are mutually exclusive. The ISD is too rare and too precious to squander in a repeat performance.  Other breeds may have started out with all good intentions and integrity, but lost their way, sold out, lost sight of their guiding star. (But to be fair, sometimes there are sincere efforts to regain what was lost.) This can be seen to have happened when breeding dogs were sold to those with less serious intentions. Those who mouth the buzz words, but lack the insight, honesty and ability to critique their own intentions. There are those who think, "well they're not going to tell me what to do with my dogs." Well, that's right. No one in ISDI is going to try to control what anyone does with his/her dogs. But if the person is not "on the same page" as the other members of ISDI, perhaps they should ask themselves why they would want to be a "member" anyway.

A dog breed's reputation, and thus its future, lies in the responsible management by every owner. The casual, uncommitted, irresponsible owner is a heartache for the seller, a headache for the breed, and a step down the road to degeneracy and destruction. So, who belongs  to ISDI? Each must answer to himself/herself first and then to the breed. 

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