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
|Correspondence to the Editor:
I Guess They Just Don't "Get" It, Do They?
by Sue Hamilton
Just when I was beginning to get used to this summer's heat, I received the following email:
Taken aback by the cheek of someone suggesting how I should support my long-distance telephone carrier, I quickly replied, "Please explain to me why I should be making the trans-Atlantic phone call to clear up something that was not created by me or the organization with whom I am associated."
And she said…
Incidentally, according to her website, Mrs. Hawkins' experience with these animals dates all the way back to the year 2000.
My position and that of the ISDI regarding the crossing of wolves with dogs in general and with ISDs in particular, as well as our stance on Northern Inuits (sic) is publicly known and remains unchanged. The opinion with respect to Northern Inuits (sic) was partly based on the easily recognizable photographs of wolf hybrids posted at their web site at the time. (The other part was their absurd mission statement: "The purpose of the Northern Inuit Society is to preserve, promote and improve the quality of the Northern Inuit as well as to establish and maintain the Northern Inuit as a working breed and family companion." Working breed? Working at what? Where is the UK's extreme arctic environment where they are attempting to improve this quality? Family companion? Not if their society wishes to perpetuate their myth that Northern Inuits was/were/is/are - as you can tell, I'm still having trouble with this "Inuits" (sic) thing - the kissin' cousin to the Inuit Sled Dog!) The only things that appear to have changed at their site are the photographs and likely some other content. As far as I'm concerned, today's incarnation of the NIS site remains a 'wolf hybrid in Northern Inuits' (sic) clothing'. And thus, 'Mrs. Archoflagellant', having failed to read the section of The Fan Hitch which lists my contact information, my second reply stated, "I can hardly wait. Give the chairwoman my email address and tell her to give it her best shot."
I'm still waiting…..
After the initial email, I used my favorite search engine to look up the Northern Inuits (sic) site, which is when I noticed that the blatantly obvious-looking hybridizations were no longer to be found. But just like a wolf has a distinct un-dog-like odor, this web site still reeked of 'wolf' content. I also came across at website <http://www.dogstuff.info>, an article about wolf hybrids and one on Northern Inuits (sic), which generally share the ISDI view. Much to my surprise, ISDI web pages and some Fan Hitch articles were significantly used as support material for the true ISD’s history as well as our position on the subject of these commentaries. The authors have provided such powerful retorts to the existence of Northern Inuits (sic), that I really see no need for me to 'reinvent the wheel', so to speak. Both "Silver Dragon" and Sierra Milton, owner of the dogstuff.info website, where the pieces appear, have said all that needs to be said, and then some, in a depth and breadth that I have neither the time nor the desire to devote to replying to someone who wanted to tell me how to spend my time and money so I could be told in person that I am slanderous and ignorant because I am not living in the UK. I wish to thank "Silver" and Sierra for their writings and for granting permission to excerpt (for lack of space as both articles are quite long) this copyrighted material, so that our Fan Hitch readers without access to the internet can get the gist of what is being said by those outside of the ISDI yet who share our point of view.
NORTHERN INUIT A Breed In The Making Or Designer-Dog
Recent discussions on another forum-board regarding the validity of the term Northern Inuit' and the advisability of cross-breeding dogs in general has resulted in much consternation…
…the stated "President" of Northern Inuits (sic) UK. …has sold animals in the past tagged as wolf hybrids, incurring legal proceedings in the process. Quoting the Newark Archives from 22 May 1998: "The council contacted Mrs. Kelham in July over an advertisement offering wolf hybrid puppies for sale. The court was told that the puppies were not Mrs Kelham's and that a neighbour had used her phone number. But Mrs Kelham keeps dogs including Alsatian cross-breeds with timber wolf and husky."
The above clipping makes more interesting reading when it is realised that the owner of the Northern Inuits (sic) UK website continually insists that her animals are 'NOT wolf hybrids', and yet the club's 'President' freely admits to keeping timber wolf crosses!
It has been several weeks now since the Northern Inuits (sic) UK web-site came to my attention, and in its original form, its information left many questions unanswered, and some even unasked. It is to this end that an associate and I requested details from Northern Inuits (sic) UK regarding these queries, the main 'bone of contention' being that of the 'breed standard' and the changes made to it during the last couple of weeks.
The owner of the Northern Inuits (sic) UK website informed me weeks ago that a copy of the Northern Inuit breed standard had been given to the Kennel Club as part of the Inuits (sic) Societies attempt to gain recognition for this animal. I had asked questions regarding this original "standard", noting that there were NO faults listed for this 'breed'.
Every informed breeder is well aware that, whatever the breed, there are ALWAYS faults to be wary of, even if they are not detrimental. Now, after being questioned on this matter, a handful of faults have suddenly appeared listed on the breed standard on the Northern Inuits (sic) UK website. The owner of the site states that the changes have been made because the pages were originally of a personal nature. However, changing a website because it was not originally intended as a public locale does NOT allow the owner to amend the breed standard! Every breed that is registered, or in the process of gaining recognition has a standard raised which cannot be altered once it has been registered with the Kennel Club. Since it was stated weeks previous that a standard has been sent to the KC for adjudication, how can the owner of Northern Inuits (sic) UK web-site justify the amendments that have since been made? To date, the owner of the Northern Inuits (sic) UK web-site has not or will not answer the question of who ratified these changes and how they came into existence. One simply contends that those changes were instituted as a direct result of questions asked, and shortcomings shown.
The Northern Inuits (sic) UK's website makes interesting reading to the uninformed. It states that "In the early 70's a few Inuit type dogs were imported to Britain." Sadly, documentation freely available on the internet from Government resources clearly states that the imports took place in 1987:
"We understand that the original animals from which breeders began breeding were imported in around 1987 from San Francisco. Although imported as 25% wolfdogs, we have been informed that these animals were, in fact, rescued animals of unknown ancestry, and therefore their wolf content could never be stated with accuracy. “
Therefore, Northern Inuits (sic) UK's claims that 'In the early 70's a few Inuit type dogs were imported to Britain,' are proven to be false in that the only animals to be imported were not bona-fide Inuit dogs at all and were, in fact quite obviously of dubious origins!
This author has read on the history of the Inuit, and it is markedly different to that which is being touted by Northern Inuits (sic) UK.
Contrary to what is stated on the Northern Inuits (sic) UK website, the Inuit people have never found the need to 'stake out bitches to be mated by wolves'. Yes, mating has/does occur between the two species but it is rarely intentional, and it is certainly not to improve their existing stock! Whilst the author is aware that there is a purported desire to have the dogs being featured on Northern Inuit UK recognised as a registered breed; claiming that the Inuit Sled Dog has been bred deliberately with wolves is not the way to achieve this!
The owner of the Northern Inuits (sic) UK website has stated quite categorically on numerous occasions (and on different forums) that the Northern Inuits (sic) UK are 'wolf dogs' NOT wolf hybrids. Northern Inuits (sic) UK's wolf dogs are advertised as being 'FRIENDLY AND PLACID. NEVER AGGRESSIVE OR SHOWING ANY GUARDING TENDENCIES. WILL SUBMIT WHEN CHALLENGED.' … Consider that Northern Inuits (sic) should have been bred and socialised for around 200 years ('as early as 1800'), and you quickly realise that they have nothing in common with the claimed heritage from true Inuit.
Regardless of statements published on the Northern Inuits (sic) UK web-site, 'pet' qualities have NEVER been a consideration for the Eskimo (sic) people, who bred their animals for load bearing purposes not as something to cuddle up to! The breed's more primitive behaviour, vocalisation (they howl rather than bark) and highly developed need for pack hierarchy means it is better suited to a working environment. These animals are not suitable as pets!
Furthermore, the author fails to see how breeding them with wolves would create an animal more suitable to domestication. The Inuit Sled Dog International (ISDI) is well aware of the situation regarding 'wolf dogs' in the United Kingdom; As a matter of fact, the ISDI club is very upset about the 'Northern Inuit' angle. The club's position is that the name "Northern Inuits (sic)" has been created to deliberately mislead in an effort to adopt legitimacy and attempt disguise the genetic identity of hybrid canids: wolf dogs. This name attempts to stave the backlash of public concern over these animals, and integrate a potentially dangerous breed into society without the consideration for legal and humanitarian ethics. Those people who insist upon producing these 'wolf dogs' must be prepared to respond to any and all fears that are raised by their continued breeding of these 'dogs'.
WOLFDOGS: Responsible or Irresponsible
Breeding: Myths and Facts Explored
All the websites I visited made it very clear that wolfdogs were not dogs and had different training, containment, socialization, and expectation needs. While I will agree that a dog in the wrong hands can be dangerous, I have to believe the experts when they unanimously seem to be saying that wolfdogs must be treated differently than dogs. A logical conclusion would be that if the wolfdog must be treated differently than dogs, few people would have the experience or necessary training to deal with the differences. Reading about a subject is very much different than being experienced in that same subject. If I were to have my appendix removed, I would definitely opt for the trained physician instead of the medical enthusiast who had read lots of books on surgery and appendixes.
No one could argue the fact that wolves are non-domesticated, wild animals. Nor could it be argued that the vast majority of breeds recognized have been domesticated for the past fifty years or, indeed, more. Wolfdogs have not been domesticated for decades, as evinced by the fact that they have a percentage of wolf in them. This is contrary to the Husky, Malamute and other Inuit breeds that have been domesticated, even though these breeds may, very well, remain more primitive than some other breeds. These northern domesticated breeds were also domesticated for very different needs and responsibilities than some of the other breeds. They were developed by people with a need for a companion/working animal that was able to withstand the deprivations of the northern areas and could survive.
The World of Northern Breed Dogs lists a wide range of northern breeds, including the Inuit Dog, but does not list a Northern Inuit Dog. Sled Dog Central lists an Inuit Sled Dog when a search is done for "Northern Inuit Dogs". I also found Canadian Inuit Dogs and Greenland Inuit Dogs, but no Northern Inuit Dogs.
The only website that I found that had Northern Inuit Dogs on them was one from the UK and some other dog websites that referred back to them. I did find a very obtuse 'standard' on that particular UK website, but no registry, group of members, organization, projected goal, history, etc.
Postscript: I did receive an email from an individual who stated that they had a standard which had been Kennel Club approved, a registry, a stated goal, etc. However, when I contacted the Kennel Club and spoke to one of their representatives I was told that while they had heard of the dogs, there was no approved standard and they were not recognized. I have since emailed the individual who emailed me and asked for further information, but have not received it.
NOTE: An invitation to the Wolf UK group to participate in these series of articles by submitting their views was extended and to-date has gone unanswered.
----------end of excerpted material----------
Look, we're not talking rocket science here. Unless you're a sheep herder or a cattle, buffalo or elk rancher, you, like the rest of us admire the wolf and would secretly love to "own" one. Fortunately this is out of reach for all but the incredibly lucky, rich or skilled. So what's the next best thing? As is often couched in terms of saving the wild wolf (reasoning beyond my comprehension), people seek to buy a facsimile. Some animal breeders have staked their financial future on creating a "niche market" for something that looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and is as harmless as a duck. But it ain't no duck. Basically, what the Northern Inuits (sic) Society seeks to create is an illusion - the romance, the arctic dog X wolf-dog owner machismo. They want the look of the legend (and they want their customers to buy into it) in this somewhat dumbed-down model - or maybe they only want the authorities to believe they are without 'tooth' - and in the process, they don't give a pig's arse whose ethology they've pilfered and buggared up. Since all the major search engines now identify references to both the ISDI and the Fan Hitch in general, and specific articles in particular, I hope that by taking this valuable time and space, we will serve to inform those unsuspecting seekers of the likes of Northern Inuits (SIC, already!) that beyond a shadow of a doubt Inuit Sled Dogs are definitely not them. We can only hope these folks will give serious consideration to whether or not they really want to or should own the god-knows-what-hybrid. Caveat emptor! Too many canids are ending up in landfills as it is.