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. 

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.

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Janice Howls....

"Qivi"                                               Feder photo


by Janice Dougherty

One of the challenges of having ISDs and keeping a viable population representative of correct genetic diversity in this modern world - no matter how rural or remote your address - is finding suitable placements for puppies. This challenging situation is shared by breeders of many other breeds whose character and behavioral repertoire are focused on an active, work-related function, rather than an inactive, largely ornamental, emotional (non-motional) function. Recently, a book was published describing this basic conceptual shift. While keeping and managing dogs was once thought to be therapeutic, it is now the DOG who is the human's live-in therapist, responsible for the human's mental stability! This is also what the fox hunting groups are up against in Great Britain and areas of the southern U.S. Why this is so would take more space than one article could hope to even hint at. It has a lot to do with psychological as well as physical distance between hunter-gatherers, pastoralists, agriculturists, and urban life style from Mother Nature's hard reality. But juggling these factors is our reality.

Modern media images demonstrate the magnitude of the problem. Pet adoption agencies give behavioral assessments or advice to newly adoptive pet owners. Yet, while they give lip service to being a responsible leader figure to the new dog, what they describe as appropriate owner interaction is a person who always backs down. Not a calm, confident owner, but a tentative, anxious doormat. The image of the "good dog owner" in entertainment media is one who never leashes, chains, fences, trains, restrains or corrects a dog, except in the most whining and sniveling tones. Cartoon strips portray obnoxious dogs and insipid owners as cute, or worse - as normal. The message is that this is how we all are with our animals, isn't it? Over the years, the Merck Veterinary Manual has taken a 180-degree turn in its approach to dog behavior. Many perceived misbehaviors are medicalized so as to sell absolution to the ineffective dog owner/client. The well-intentioned, animal interested person is being brainwashed by PETAphiles into accepting biologically incorrect concepts as facts. How many times has it been said that dogs are only aggressive if they've been abused or "trained to be that way"? Often the public is warned "never to look the dog in the eye" or to stare, but to avert their direct gaze. Since it is well established that this is a signal of submission, then what signal would this give the eight-week-old puppy in a new home? What position on the corporate ladder is this pup going to think it fills, if the owners constantly avert their gaze? The public at large is being set up to fail, and isn't that exactly what the PETAphiles want? It has been reported that the average modern dog owner considers him/herself more of a parent-buddy to their dog "child". However, their working definition of "parent" is more of a butler/maid/chauffeur than a parent or even a teacher or a coach. Owner as doormat? I recently saw a sweatshirt emblazoned with the words "My Dog Walks All Over Me", complete with stenciled paw prints. Servile, masochistic, dependent whiners - and proud of it! An issue of a professional veterinary publication (DVM, September '02) column written by a veterinary behaviorist discussed her therapeutic approach to a situation with a client whom she describes as "insecure and a chronic worrier", and this annoys people she consults. Later on the article mentions, almost as an aside, that "everyone worries about big dogs".

Of course there is also the misperception that certain breeds are inherently "dangerous". Well, dangerous to whom? Almost any dog could be considered dangerous in some way to clueless owners, who don't have, as a once heard line said, "the good sense that God gave lettuce". Some politicians would outlaw all people from owning dogs. Playing right into the policies and goals of PETAphiles.

There have been many articles in the past year or so about bears becoming more than just a nuisance to people, attacking pets, livestock and threatening children in suburban areas. Meanwhile states outlaw bear hunting with dogs. A New York Times article in its Metro Section talked about the growing rat problem, with a closely placed article in which comedienne Whoopi Goldberg suggested that if we have rats, we need to get cats. She was not kidding, although her choice of domestic predators should have been upgraded to a spunky dog with some natural, valuable instinct to kill vermin and thereby protect our homes and families. The U.S.A. is not the only nation with wimpy, hysteria driven laws. Canada has its own set of breed-banning brainless boys of government.

Proud pappa, Puggiq, indulges two of his ten pups.       Hamilton photo

Does anyone believe that we can find suitable homes for ISD puppies when people think along these lines; people who live in communities castrated by such legislation, where homeowner insurance is now in accordance with the tabloid image of the dog you own?

What can we do? I see three options: (1) we can allow the ISD and other such breeds to go extinct, or (2) we can modify them to fit the modern market - a.k.a. virtual extinction, or (3) we can speak and write and make continuous efforts to counterbalance some of the pathetic, perverted pandering that is out there. Often this is best accomplished with children in school groups. This is where the PETAphiles put their efforts and we must do the same. We must be persuasive, cool and backed by the facts that are unarguable. We must rub their noses in their errors - quietly, deftly and with surgical precision.

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