The Fan Hitch Volume 5, Number 1, December 2002
Newsletter of the Inuit Sled Dog

Table of Contents

Editorial: Hoof Beats and Zebras
Featured Inuit Dog Owner: Merv Ehrich
Jubilee Medal Awarded to ISDI Co-Founder
Blue Eyes in Norwegian Greenland Dogs
ISD Enthusiasts Speak out on Blues Eyes
ISDI's Official Stand on Blue Eyes
Mountie, Alouette and Moose
Following Nanuk's Tracks
The Qitdlarssuaq Chronicles, Part 1
News Briefs:
New ISDI Scandinavia Web Site
Atanarjuat Update
Dog Teams in Iqaluit
Grammar Lesson
ISDs in Museum Exhibit
Poem: Lost Travellers
Book Review: first Nations.... first Dogs
ISD Enthusiast's First Novel Published
IMHO: Seeking to Answer the Wrong Question

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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

Puggiq (L) instructs his apprentice; Aqsaq skips school   Hamilton photo

IMHO: Seeking to Answer the Wrong Question

by Mark Hamilton

Sue and I don't live in the bush. That said, I believe you'll understand when I say that much of our lives, or anyone else's who lives in similar circumstances, is lived primarily in defiance of nature. "Climate controlled" homes, traveling to "climate controlled" work places or shopping locations in "climate controlled" vehicles comprise a lifestyle that is remote from nature. Dark of night, blistering heat, soaking rains, biting cold, they matter not in our daily experience. 

Of course, every now and again Nature demands that she not be ignored. In our area, starting this Fall, Nature has provided for a number of electrical failures, each more easily measured in days rather than hours. 

That's ok. There's no electricity when you're traveling on the ice by dog team either. Sue and I can do fine without electricity for a while, switching our schedule around to one that's compatible with the available sunlight. The biggest problem is having enough water on hand for our dogs. So, hauling water becomes an every other day experience. 

In this same Fall we've re-experienced the joy of actually training our dog teams, instead of just running a compatible bunch of dogs and screaming commands at them. In our new retirement lifestyle we've dedicated weekday mornings to taking one team out each day for training, conditions permitting. We've elected not to train on weekends, preferring to leave the woods (and their weekend crowds) to the "working stiffs". 

This Fall has also been the first true working season for Qiniliq, the young male dog from Pangnirtung we were lucky enough to obtain about sixteen months ago. He is now a full time member of Puggiq's team, and has enthusiastically thrown himself into those tasks at hand. It took him just a couple of tenths of a mile on his first run to figure out that he needed to mimic his teammates' performance, that they weren't going to run just because he wanted to, and he truly seems to love the feel of leaning into his harness.

It was while watching Qiniliq learn the protocol of being a working sled dog that I realized our educational system and society in general sends our human youths out in pursuit of the answer to the wrong question. We, collectively, admonish them to go out and never stop seeking the answer to the question "Why?" 

Pretty universal stuff, huh, except it wasn't the question Qiniliq was seeking to answer.   Our junior sled dog in training wasn't concerned with the question "why?" Rather, he sought to answer the question "what?" He already understood that "why" wasn't going to move that training rig. Only "what" could get that job done. 

It was a simple lesson, but one I quickly related to our multiple power failures. Once the power lines were dead, "why" didn't solve any of our problems. But a clear understanding of "what" needed to get done, and in "what" order, was immediately useful. 

I hope you find this useful as well. For instance: "What" do you want for your dogs? "What" do your dogs need? "What" can the ISDI do to help you? We all might find those answers immediately useful. 

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