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: 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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What follows is a gem taken from The Book That Wasn't*, a collection of the very personal accounts of Falkland Islands Dependencies Survey and British Antarctic Survey veterans describing what it was like to live and work with dogs. In this poem, the first of a series of four vignettes, geologist and dog man, Jim Exley (Horseshoe Island, Base Y, 1955/56) describes "Banshee", lead dog of the Admirals team. 

Lost Travellers

by Jim Exley

It hardly seems a flamin' week,
Since I first cursed your flamin' cheek
I'd 'irra' shout - you'd swing off right, 
And then you'd start a bleeding fight - 
Or else you'd spot a bergy bit,
And find you'd got to water it!

You'd stand around for all our rest
And then, just like you, stupid pest - 
Just as the driver thought you oughter
Pull - you'd start to make more water!
Look as if butter wouldn't melt, 
Then nip at Brock, below the belt.

I stood you for a day or two - 
You'd often bait drivers new
But things like that must reach a head
Then 'lead my way or end up dead'
An 'irre' you just 'failed to hear'
Your backward glance, that held a sneer.

I stopped the team, cursed high and low,
And thumped you down into the snow,
I curse a novice drivers must,
I thumped you hard, just fit to bust.

That scene was two - both first and last - 
Your little games were done and past - 
A dog like you knows what's enough
From that day on when things got tough,
You'd plug ahead - through wind and drift
You'd keep the course - you wouldn't shift.

Much later when our sea ice went
We found a way that climbed and bent,
Through rock and snow patch three feet wide
Then down to base, the other side,
Past ice cliff high and snow step bold
Where rope brakes strong would hardly hold.

Home safe - you'd get a special steak - 
Old dogs' worn teeth must often ache,
And then, you curled up in the snow,
I'd seek the base hut's friendly glow.
But first, a special favour, well I know, 
You'd let me stroke your ears - and then I'd go.

It hardly seems a flamin' week,
Since I first cursed your flamin' cheek.
It hardly seems a week - hang on
It's forty years! - and you're long gone;
My eyes are moist; I smile and sigh -
No sledger old will need ask why!

*The Book That Wasn't was originally published as a limited edition for those people who had in any way contributed to the book Of Dogs and Men by Kevin Walton and Rick Atkinson.  That was first published in 1996 by Images of Malvern. The ISDI and The Fan Hitch gratefully acknowledge the generosity of Kevin Walton for granting permission to select and reproduce portions of The Book That Wasn't.

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