The Fan Hitch Volume 5, Number 3, June 2003

Newsletter of the Inuit Sled Dog

Table of Contents

Editorial: …of Philosophy, Dogs and History
Featured Inuit Dog Owner: Ken MacRury, Part 1
Remembering Niya
Page from the Behaviour Notebook: Bishop and Tunaq
Antarctic Vignettes
On Managing ISD Aggression
The Qitdlarssuaq Chronicles, Part 3
News Briefs:
Inuit Dog Thesis Back in Print
Nunavut Quest 2003 Report
Article in Mushing Magazine
Possible Smithsonian Magazine Story
Product Review: Dismutase
Tip for the Trail: Insect Repellents
Book Review: The New Guide to Breeding 
Old Fashioned Working Dogs
Video Review: Stonington Island, Antarctica 1957-58
IMHO: The Slippery Slope

Navigating This Site

Index of articles by subject

Index of back issues by volume number

Search The Fan Hitch

Articles to download and print

Ordering Ken MacRury's Thesis

Our comprehensive list of resources

Talk to The Fan Hitch

The Fan Hitch home page

ISDI home page

Editor's/Publisher's Statement
Editor-in-Chief: Sue Hamilton
Webmaster: Mark Hamilton
Print Edition: Imaged and distributed by the IPL students of the Ulluriaq School, Kangiqsualujjuaq, Nunavik
The Fan Hitch, Journal of the Inuit Sled Dog International, is published four times a year. It is available at no cost online at:

Print subscriptions: in Canada $20.00, in USA $23.00, elsewhere $32.00 per year, postage included. All prices are in Canadian dollars. Make checks payable in Canadian dollars only to "Mark Brazeau", and send to Mark Brazeau, Box 151 Kangiqsualujjuaq QC J0M 1N0 Canada. (Back issues are also available. Contact Sue Hamilton.)

The Fan Hitch
welcomes your letters, stories, comments and suggestions. The editorial staff reserves the right to edit submissions used for publication.

Contents of The Fan Hitch 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

The Inuit Sled Dog International

The Inuit Sled Dog International (ISDI) is a consortium of enthusiasts whose goal is the preservation of this ancient arctic breed in its purest form as a working dog. The ISDI's efforts are concentrated on restoring the pure Inuit Dog to its native habitat. The ISDI's coordinators welcome to your comments and questions.

ISDI Coordinator Canada:
Geneviève Montcombroux, Box 206, Inwood, MB R0C 1P0;
ISDI Coordinator USA:
Sue Hamilton, 55 Town Line Road, Harwinton, CT 06791,
News Briefs...

Inuit Dog Thesis Now Back in Print!

by Sue Hamilton

The Inuit Dog: Its Provenance, Environment and History by Ken MacRury is now ready for distribution! This is the third printing of Ken's 1991 thesis, prepared to fulfill his Master's Degree in Polar Studies at the Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom. It is the most comprehensive scientific publication of its kind on the Inuit Sled Dog. A review of the thesis can be found in the August 2002, (V.4, N.4) issue of The Fan Hitch. The fifty-nine-page publication includes some updated information not found in the original or 1996 printings. This third printing has been digitally reproduced and professionally assembled. It has a crisp new look, heavy card stock front and rear covers and a nicely fabric bound spine.

Ken has generously donated all profits from the sale of The Inuit Dog: It's Provenance, Environment and History to The Inuit Sled Dog International (ISDI), our consortium of enthusiasts whose goal is the preservation of this ancient arctic breed in its purest form and as a working dog. The ISDI pursues this goal in part by maintaining a database on health and other relevant issues, and on the whereabouts of pure stock for breeders who wish to locate other populations of dogs in order to maintain a diverse gene pool. Through its many supporters and this newsletter, The Fan Hitch, the ISDI also provides honest, reliable information about the Inuit Sled Dog's breed characteristics; offers mentoring to future and new owners who are committed to the goals of the ISDI; and encourages those who choose to breed their dogs to do so with the highest standards of purity, health, temperament and performance.

The price of The Inuit Dog: It's Provenance, Environment and History is $16.00 USD each. Shipping and handling within the US is $4.00 (for up to four copies to one address). Shipping to Canada $2.50 per unit. For wholesale pricing, multiple copy shipping to Canada and shipping charges outside North America, please contact: Sue Hamilton, 55 Town Line Road, Harwinton, Connecticut 06791, USA. Phone: 1-860-485-9088 or email: Please note that checks or money orders must be payable in US dollars and should be made out to “ISDI” and sent to Sue Hamilton.

Nunavut Quest 2003 Report

by Sue Hamilton

This year's Nunavut Quest began on April 15 in Iglulik. Thanks to good weather, the 580- kilometer/361-mile race across sea ice and tundra to Arctic Bay ended on April 21  - a record seven days. There was total of 192 dogs in eighteen teams. Five mushers were from the hamlet of Iglulik, with the others - five from Clyde River, four from Hall Beach, two from Repulse Bay, and one each from Arctic Bay and Pond Inlet. This year most of the drivers transported their teams from their distant communities (as far away as 400 kilometers/248 miles) in dog boxes mounted on qamutiit pulled by snowmobiles.

Totaling up the daily times, Samson Kango of Iglulik placed first with 34 hours, 32 minutes. Second was David Tuktudjuk from Repulse with 35 hours, 30 minutes. Finishing in third was Teeman Avingna of Iglulik with 35 hours, 39 minutes. The last of the sixteen teams who finished completed the event in 66 hours, 30 minutes.

The rules state the dogs "must be those of our ancestors" and each team was inspected by a race committee before the race. However, it was observed that some of the dogs finishing near the head of the pack more resembled Alaskan and Siberian Huskies. Whether this issue will be addressed in the future is not known.

It was observed that many of the dog teams were better prepared and conditioned for the race, and four of the mushers even offered their dogs water instead of the more traditional way of having the dogs obtain additional moisture by eating snow and ice. Arctic dogs generally get most of their water metabolically, from the breakdown of their very high fat diet, principally ringed seal. 

The 2004 Nunavut Quest will begin in the North Baffin hamlet of Pond Inlet and run south to Clyde River.

Thank you to Lee Narraway and Niore Iqalukjuak for their contributions to this report. (Look for Lee's feature story and fabulous photographs of this year's Quest in an upcoming issue of Above & Beyond Magazine.)

Article in Mushing Magazine

by Sue Hamilton

In the May/June, 2003 issue of Mushing Magazine, an Alaska-based publication on dog-powered sports, there appeared an article entitled "The Origin of Sled Dogs: Working Sled Dog Breeds" written by Mike Misuraca, described as a free-lance writer with a degree in biology who became a mushing enthusiast while in Canada's Yukon Territory. The two-page story opens with a brief introduction followed by synopses (for lack of a better description) on "Samoyeds", "Siberian Huskies", "Alaskan Malamutes" and "The Inuit Dog". These are followed by a conclusion. At least three letters were written to Mushing Magazine's managing editor complaining about what were felt to be the author's inaccurate descriptions, among them his portrayal of Inuit Dogs being neither as powerful pullers as Alaskan Malamutes nor as having the "elite endurance of Siberian huskies". Objections were also made to Mushing Magazine about a story with so much erroneous information having even been printed. The managing editor, gracious in her responses, indicated that the author's "extensive list of resources" could not be published for lack of space and that the piece was intended only as an overview. The letters sent to the managing editor included specific comments addressing what was felt to be more accurate representations of the Inuit Dog and other breeds mentioned in the story. As of The Fan Hitch press time (June 26th) the author has not responded.

Smithsonian Magazine Article on Inuit Dogs?

by Sue Hamilton

When they contacted me, the editorial staff at Smithsonian Magazine were only too eager and grateful to get a copy of Ken MacRury's thesis on the Inuit Dog and a reprint of R.J.F. Taylor's scientific paper "The Physiology of Sledge Dogs" which just happened to have appeared in the last issue of The Fan Hitch. However, they have been very tight-lipped regarding the reasons for their request (other than they were working on a story), failing to provide even the most meager hint of what the subject of a future article might be. The Fan Hitch will keep a look out for anything Inuit Dog related published in Smithsonian Magazine and report on it if and when that happens.

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