The Fan Hitch Volume 4, Number 4, September 2002

Newsletter of the Inuit Sled Dog

Table of Contents

We Are Not Alone
Research Paper II: Occupational Osteoarthritis
Who is an ISDI "Member"
Northern Inuits (sic), Again!
High Arctic Mushing: Part IV
The Inuit Dog: Its Provenance, Environment and History
Preserving "Bear" Dogs
Janice Howls: Extinction
IMHO: Little Minds, Little Worlds
Index of The Fan Hitch, Volume IV

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              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. 

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IMHO: Little Minds, Little Worlds

by Mark Hamilton

The other day I found myself thinking about fields, meadows and parking lots. Of course the connection here is pretty obvious, lots of fields and meadows end up as parking lots these days. So it's not like I was thinking about a really odd combination, say, soda straws and thin film resister networks.

The thing is, for me at least, fields, meadows and parking lots are also a good metaphor for how many people choose to deal with the world and reality. Their preference is to live in a  "parking lot" world they've created in their minds rather than the real world. 

Now, parking lots are kind of comfortable and reassuring, probably because they're so understandable; you know where to park because someone has painted lines on them to show you; you can see at night because they've put lights in them as well. The surface is smooth (except for the speed bumps) and solid so you won't get stuck. There are drains in them so you won't have to step out into a puddle. You even have the option of parking in a space close to the store you're going to visit, so that you don't have to spend a lot of time outside in the sun/rain/snow. 

Fields and meadows are quite different from the parking lots that are often built on them. Instead of smooth pavement the ground conforms to the more random dictates of nature: shaped by gravity, wind and water. There often are wet spots, streams or water channels. High grasses may obscure much of the view, as well there are rocks, tree stumps, animal burrows. Details, there are a lot more details in a field or meadow.  This results in those fields and meadows being far more complex than any parking lot. Of course you first need to observe all those "details" and intellectually process them before you are actually able to deal with them. 

Life is a lot like those fields and meadows, and all its "details" make up the rich texture that separates reality from fiction. It may be tempting to select the security of a "parking lot" world, but it's not life. It's not reality.

Ok, for those of you who have been patiently waiting for this piece to get even remotely doggie, here we go! In my humble opinion, the road to ruination for any breed in large measure lies in breeders having a "parking lot" vision of that breed. To test my hypothesis choose any one of the working or sporting breeds. Now, compare that breed's written standard of the "ideal" specimen to any of the dogs that actually perform their breed's original function. How about it? Does the breed standard "miss the forest" by concentrating on just some of the trees? Does the phrase, "That dog won't hunt" carry some added meaning here? 

For a change I'm not blaming any of the all breed kennel clubs here (surprise!). They didn't write those lousy standards. But unfortunately, it is exactly those standards that someone newly involved with the breed will turn to, and to which future generations will hold. That is the reality that must be anticipated.  After all, a novice's perception naturally will be that everyone already involved with the breed created that document.  Therefore, it must express everything those people felt was important about the breed. The problem, as I see it, is that those breed standards have always acted to limit the range of expression within a breed, creating another parking lot where once a fine meadow existed. Need a little proof? How many of the people you know involved in breeding/showing are following a line breeding/inbreeding regimen to "set type" in a breed that has already existed for hundreds, or even thousands, of years?

So here we are, standing at a cross-road of sorts. Fields and meadows to one side, a parking lot on the other. Where are we headed? Does anybody care?

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