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

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
News Briefs....

Puggiq, Amaruq and Aqsaq, fall 2001   Hamilton photo

ISDI letter to the Editor of Mushing Magazine

The following letter was published in the September/October 2003 issue of Mushing Magazine. (See "News Briefs" in The Fan Hitch, V5, N3, June 2003.)


We were disappointed in "The Origin of Sled Dogs" by Mike Misuraca (Mushing May/June 2003). Overall, it lacked the serious analysis and accuracy we expect of Mushing.  A few of our disagreements with the article follow.

The author's declaration that Inuit dogs are not so powerful as Alaskan malamutes is inaccurate. He speaks of malamutes as if they were identical to the dogs which existed before AKC registration. Modern malamutes have not retained the hardiness and performance of their forbears. The Inuit dog, a pure breed still existing in eastern arctic Canada, Greenland and a few other places in the northern hemisphere, is bred, maintained and worked with its 4000-year tradition in mind.

Inuit dogs functioned for millennia in hostile conditions, sometimes with little or no food for extended periods. They are still utilized in for hunting polar bear and, because of their renowned endurance, were instrumental in support of polar expeditions, exploration and scientific research; not today's Siberian huskies - a breed never intended for such arduous tasks. 

Friendliness and loyalty are not unique to the malamute. Dogs socialized to a close knit, communal group will naturally be friendly to the group, but it is NOT automatic within the breed.  (These traits should not be confused with pet qualities.)

The author does not differentiate between wolf-crosses and wolf like characteristics which are behaviorally and physiologically appropriate in primitive breeds. While acknowledging the Coppingers' arguments, he ignores observations by George Attla and anthropologist Robert Nelson on the non-usefulness of wolf crosses in northern culture. Numerous well-regarded studies indicate that the Inuit dog originated from Siberia, not the Fairbanks area where allegedly "…the short-faced wolves.... appear to be the forerunners of the later domesticated Eskimo Dogs."

Genetic diversity does not suffer  from a closed breeding group of sufficient size, as  long as there is a simultaneous selection for fitness. It is the selective pressure or lack of it that permits weakness to occur frequently in a population. 

Research in preparing this article should have been more thorough. Despite his northern address, a freelance writer does not always make a good cynologist.

Geneviève  Montcombroux, Janice Dougherty, Sue Hamilton
(combined experience and research approaching one hundred years)
Inuit Sled Dog International

Inuit Dog Thesis International Sales

This suggestion comes from a buyer in Moscow; and to those of you outside the United States who have already purchased your copies of Ken MacRury's thesis The Inuit Dog: Its Provenance, Environment and History, my apologies for not having suggested this as an option. You may wire payment to me via Western Union. There is a Western Union terminal in my town, right across the street from the post office. I have been told that funds are available within 10 minutes of the transaction, although this isn't necessarily a huge advantage as the difference in time zones are not likely to make your funds available to me when the post office is open or I am awake. But it is quicker than waiting around for a foreign currency bank draft to get to you and then to me. And there's no chance for it to get lost in the mail either. I have no idea about the cost (other than it depends on the amount you wish to send) or how it compares to what banks charge, but I suggest it is worth looking in to.

Update: Traveling Dog Exhibit

In the  V5, N1 December 2002 issue of The Fan Hitch (Inuit Sled Dogs Seen in Southern California), we announced the opening of an exhibit on dogs, produced by the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. The Inuit Sled Dog was one of the few specific breeds to be featured in various formats at the exhibit and we were instrumental in providing text and photos for it. Although our appearance is but a small one in the grand scheme of the exhibit, it is still noteworthy. Here is the latest regarding where this now traveling exhibit will be in 2004. We'll update you as more appearances are confirmed.

"Thank you for your inquiry regarding DOGS: Wolf, Myth, Hero and Friend. The exhibit is currently in storage for Fall 2003, and will then travel in Spring 2004 where it will be shown at Milwaukee County Zoo."

The exhibit then goes to the National Geographic Explorers Hall in Washington, D.C. in Summer 2004. 

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