The Fan Hitch Volume 5, Number 4, September 2003

Newsletter of the Inuit Sled Dog

Table of Contents

Editorial: Newton's Third Law (of Motion)
Fan Mail
Featured Inuit Dog Owner: Ken MacRury, Part 2
Page from the Behaviour Notebook: Death and Transfiguration
Lost Heritage
Antarctic Vignettes
The Qitdlarssuaq Chronicles, Part 4
News Briefs:
ISDI letter to the Editor of Mushing Magazine
Inuit Dog Thesis International Sales
Update: Traveling Dog Exhibit
Product Review: The Original Zipper Rescue Kit®
Janice Howls: PETAphiles
IMHO: Means, Motive and Opportunity
Index to The Fan Hitch, Volume 5

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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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Newton's Third Law (of Motion)

Our first dog, back in 1971, was a pet shop German Shepherd. Then came the malamute decades, during which period we also kept (one at a time) a couple of socialized Eastern Gray wolves, senior retirees from a university behaviour genetics program.  After many of these canids died, they would make a return visit that either Mark or I or both of us would experience. This occurred shortly after their death, at dusk or later, never in broad daylight. We would spy them lurking among the trees in the exercise pen, or in a darkened corner of the back yard, or sometimes they would appear in the house. Sometimes, instead of recognizing them by form, we would only hear the familiar sound of their footfalls coming from the basement or breathing pattern in another room or just sense very strongly they were in our presence somewhere, just out of sight, just out of reach. Then they would quickly take their leave forever. (The one exception was Miranda, our second wolf, and the more practical joker of the two, who popped up once or twice in the years since her death on Christmas morning, 1996.) It was as if they were trying to tell us, "I am OK now. No more suffering. Don't worry about me."

I will be the first one to admit the possibility that these apparitions of departed canids may be nothing more than our overactive imagination, our craving to have one last glimpse, one last touch with animals we have loved so deeply. A trick of the eye, of the heart, of the mind? Except.... this didn't happen with every animal, some of which were very special. And sometimes it did happen with real pains-in-the-ass we were hard pressed to shed tears over. And we weren't the only two people who experienced this phenomenon upon the loss of their dogs. So, either we're all crazy or maybe some of our dear departed did in fact wander the earth after breathing their last, if but for a brief moment in time.

That our three cherished Inuit dogs from Pond Inlet left us without a post mortem visit may bear no statistical significance when compared to the percentage of malamutes, wolves and that one German Shepherd that did appear to us. I have to admit to being more than a little puzzled and even hurt that Tiriganiaq, Amaruq and Puggiq - dogs we are not ashamed to admit we loved more intensely than all those that came (and went) before them - did not come back to bid us a reassuring adieu. It was as if they were steadfastly adhering to the Bill Carpenter principle that Inuit Dogs react with an exaggerated response to all stimuli. Granted, death can hardly be described as stimulating. But in the case of all three (our first Inuit Dogs to die so far), they were so over-the-top vibrant in life, that once they were dead, their absence, their "lack of being" was and still is extraordinarily profound. It was as if they ascribed to Newton's Third Law of Motion - "For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction." 

We have six malamutes and seven Inuit Dogs remaining, and we're certainly not looking forward to adding more data to these observations in order to be able to draw any conclusions. But I am wondering what it would be like if Inuit Sled Dogs became extinct, especially from Arctic Canada, and left this earth. Would ISD enthusiasts experience the same sense of incalculable loss? I don't ever want to find out.

Wishing you smooth ice, and narrow leads....


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