The Fan Hitch Volume 5, Number 3, June 2003

Newsletter of the Inuit Sled Dog

Table of Contents

Editorial: …of Philosophers, 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: 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

Tip for the Trail...

Battling the Bugs

by Mark Hamilton

Inuit Dogs aren't lawn furniture. They require more of the owner in the way of maintenance. Certain aspects of their genetically programmed behavior patterns encourage a lot of contact by the owner or handler to ensure your relationship with the boss dog, the rest of the pack, and their understanding of your "standards of behavior" with humans. That means we're outside a lot. It also means that, at this time of the year, we're exposed to biting insects a lot. One of the most noxious of those insects is the black fly or no-see-um. They don't even give you the courtesy of humming in your ear the way a mosquito does. No, no! They just sneak in and take a bite out of whatever skin is exposed. They also annoy your dogs and scab up the insides of their ears with their repeated assaults.

This tip comes to you courtesy of a sprint racer friend of mine, Tom DiMaggio, who got the information from the people responsible for The Lion King, Snow Dogs and Epcot Center - the Walt Disney Company. Some biting insects, including the black fly, are deterred by peppermint castile soap. Fact is, an Epcot Center employee told Tom they routinely spray the grounds with a water and peppermint castile soap mixture as a bug deterrent. 

What you'll need is a pressure sprayer and supply of peppermint castile soap (no brand name endorsements provided here - go to a health food store and see what's available). Mix at the rate of one part soap to nineteen parts water. Always add the soap to the pre-measured amount of water, not vice-versa, to avoid a lot of foam.

The mixture is non-toxic and biodegradable. You use it as an area spray in the dog yard, inside dog houses, and exercise areas. Start with a couple of treatments per week, plus re-spray after any rain storms, then you can back off to about once a week. 

We've already field tested the water and peppermint castile soap mixture here in the Northeast, where the blackflies are pretty aggressive. It does keep them at bay, but seems to have little effect on mosquitoes. Okay, so you may still need to switch to a Deet-based product when the mosquitoes come calling, but up until then you now have the option of walking around  in a relatively bug free area that smells like toothpaste.

And then again, maybe you don't need a Deet-based repellent. Absorbine® markets a horse product called SuperShield Green® - an aromatic, all natural bug spray. It is a water-based herbal mixture containing aloe, lanolin, alcohol, oils of citronella, eucalyptus, lavender, pennyroyal, pine needle and tea tree, polysorbate-80, purified water and witch hazel. It doesn't leave a sticky or oily residue and is listed as suitable for use on horses, ponies, livestock, pets, humans. It can be sprayed on clothing, skin and or used as a premise spray. A 32 oz. (946 ml) spray bottle costs us $19.95 at our local Blue Seal (farm and pet supply) store. The product is also available in one gallon jugs.

Mosquitoes do respect SuperShield Green®, perhaps not as much as a 30% Deet product, and perhaps not for as long. But if you're only going to be out for a few hours maybe that doesn't matter so much. As with the water and peppermint castile soap mixture, SuperShield Green® has a scent strongly reminiscent of toothpaste. Some of you may find that a more tolerable aroma than the chemical aroma associated with many commercial bug deterrent products.

Got a tip you'd like to share? Email it to or snail-mail it to Mark Hamilton, 55 Town Line Road, Harwinton, CT 06791, USA.

Return to top of page