Table of Contents
F.I.D.O.: Barry Salovaara and Tina Portman
Barry of the Midnight Sun
The Fan Hitch Contributor Wins Maxwell Award
Ivakkak: Encouraging Purity in Nunavik ISDs
Games People Play:
Saving the Sled Dog or Saving the Show Dog
Coppinger Comments Prompts ISDI Rebuttal
Behaviour Notebook: Building a Team
IMHO: The Sernix, a Fable
Dog show scene Okland photo
The Games People Play:
by Sue Hamilton
"There's nothing more dangerous than a shallow-thinking compassionate person."In the February 14, 2004 Northern News Services online article "Doggone ... almost", reporter Kathleen Lippa (Nunavut News/North bureau chief) interviewed several dog owners who expressed concern for dwindling numbers of Canada's aboriginal sled dog. While it was good to see this issue coming out into the open, the article seemed "bi-polar" (pun intended) in its presentation. Inuit Sled Dog (ISD) owners in the Arctic who were interviewed lamented the declining numbers in their area. However Ms. Lippa, for whatever reason, wrote her story in such a way that confuses or perhaps even equates the population of pure Inuit Sled Dogs up north with those of the Canadian Kennel Club (CKC) registered Canadian Eskimo Dogs (CED) elsewhere.
Interviewing Canadian Eskimo Dog Association president Laura Pitblado, the article said, "Now The Canadian Kennel Club is calling for action to protect the dogs (more correctly known as the Inuit sled dog or qimmiq)." The object of the story flipped between the ISD of the Canadian Arctic and CKC registered CEDs, although no mention was made of the fact that the latter are often owned by those who breed them for dog shows and sell them into pet homes. (NB: It is important to recognize that not all CEDs are bred, used and sold for the aforementioned activities. There are still some dedicated owner-breeders and outfitters who maintain kennels of working dogs eligible for registration, but who eschew that formality, focusing solely on the traditional/historical/functional qualities of their stock.)
Although pleased that the story did address the issue of dwindling numbers of pure Inuit Sled Dogs in the Arctic, the ISDI wrote to the editor expressing concern about the article's intermingling of "apples and oranges". We indicated we were puzzled as to why the CKC would be concerned about the non-CKC registered ISD, and we expressed grave concern should thoughts be entertained of removing some of their precious few from the Arctic to only bolster the number of registered dogs that would end up in the show ring and or in pet homes. As the NNSL editor mentioned a follow up story was to appear soon, the ISDI asked to be put in touch with the reporter responsible. This never happened.
While waiting for the second article to appear, ISDI co-founder Geneviève Montcombroux reviewed CKC meeting minutes and found no mention of the kind of activity referred to in the story. Upon contacting CKC, she was informed that "At the present time, there are no active projects being sponsored or funded by the CKC regarding the Canadian Eskimo Dog."
Then, on February 23, the second NNSL story, "Help for a breed above", was published, written by the same reporter. And it became abundantly clear that this hue and cry was indeed all about the CED's CKC registered numbers. Quoting from the story: "We're in the beginning steps of deciding what to do," said Jason Foucault at the Canadian Kennel Club office in Toronto last Wednesday. He also stated, "It has yet to release a press statement to the media, but says public awareness is important to save the breed." (The reader assumes that "it" refers to the CKC.)
Once again Geneviève Montcombroux contacted the same person at CKC (who happened to be Foucault's boss) and in a cordial and frank phone conversation, she was told that there are no plans for the CKC to do anything or issue a press release about the Canadian Eskimo Dog, and that what Foucault says is not on behalf of the CKC whose mandate is only to register dogs and ensure the rules are applied. There is no agenda to talk about the breed in the next meeting, or to do anything about the low numbers.
Ironically, Jason Foucault, described in the NNSL story as having knowledge about the CED for several years, is the same name used by the sender of an email seeking information back in October 2003 from ISDI co-founder Sue Hamilton as to the difference between a CED and an ISD (see The Fan Hitch V.6, N. 1, December 2003 "Fan Mail"), and who received a detailed reply.
Perhaps nothing about the Inuit Dog was mentioned by "this" Jason Foucault to Kathleen Lippa, a writer working for a news organization whose name should indicate more interest in working dogs of the north than kennel club registered dogs destined for the show ring and pet homes. It remains unclear to ISDI whether the NNSL reporter was writing as a "talking head" for CEDA or was unwittingly being used by them. In either case, one has to wonder why the paper's editorial staff didn't question the lack of northern relevance to the February 23 story.
Finding this subterfuge unacceptable, the ISDI submitted
a letter to
the editor, which was whittled down from its original mere
200 words to
the following, published on the NNSL web
Don't repeat tragic history