The Fan Hitch Volume 6, Number 3, June 2004

Journal of the Inuit Sled Dog

Table of Contents

Editorial: Who Are You and What Do Want?
Fan Mail
F.I.D.O.: Ludovic Pirani
Geronimo's Travels
The Breeding and Maintenance of Sledge Dogs: Part I
How We Met Tom
Dog Yard Tips
Setting a New Standard
In the News
Behavior Notebook: Qiniliq and Sunny
IMHO: Unnecessary Roughness

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.

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Featured Inuit Dog Owner.....

Ludovic Pirani and Kayla                              Pirani photo

Ludovic Pirani

TFH: Where do you live?
LP: I came from France to live in the Outaouais region, Québec (Canada) in 2000.

TFH: How many dogs do you have?
LP: Ten males and five females for a total of fifteen dogs, fourteen ISDs and one Siberian Husky.

TFH:  How long have you had ISDs?
LP: I have owned Greenland Inuit Dogs since 1994.

TFH: How did you come to the Inuit Dog?
LP: My first three arctic dogs were Alaskan Malamutes. They were very beautiful dogs. However, when working they were not responding to my needs. Afterwards, I met people who owned Greenland Dogs. I exchanged a lot of information with them for about two years before I decided to buy my very first Inuit Dog. What seduced me was their power, their devotion, their behavior and force of character. They are honest and loyal dogs. After I met with two people who traveled through Siberia with their dog team, I knew that my decision to own Greenland Dogs was the right one concerning my future plans.

Kodiak                                             Pirani photo

TFH: What did you do to realize those plans?
LP: I met with a few Greenland Dog breeders. After a few discussions and meetings and, using my knowledge, I was able to tell which breeders were selling their dogs for money and which ones really knew what they were talking about due to their incredible passion and love for the breed. One year after buying my first dog, I decided to buy two more to give more power to my team. I arrived in Canada with my remaining two Malamutes and three Greenland Dogs.

TFH: What activities do you do with your dogs - recreational or commercial?
LP: During the summer, I work in construction. In winter, I hire my guiding services to dog sledding enterprises. In conclusion, I give myself the opportunity to enjoy winter with my dogs and to make it a reasonable living. I love my work. However, I don't want my work to kill my passion for dogs. I want to share with my clients my love for the Inuit Dogs, for the nature and for its wide white spaces.

TFH: How do you train your dogs?
LP: To train my dogs I use an ATV. The first training starts late September on short distances and end when the snow arrives. In between, the training distance increases throughout the autumn season as the power of the dogs increases.

TFH: What do you feed your dogs in summer and in winter?
LP: In summer, the dogs eat dry pet food (26% protein and 16% fat) mixed with chicken and canola oil. During the winter I use the same dry food however with 30% protein and 20% fat mixed with beef and or horsemeat and canola oil.

TFH: What criteria do you use when choosing a dog?
LP: I use several criteria to choose a dog. I prefer to buy my dogs from a breeder who works his dogs. The reason is simple. I work with them. I don't want the most superb stud if I have to leave him in his pen when I go out with the team because he is a bad worker. I leave that to breeders who are trying to preserve the breed in a different manner than mine. There is a need for every sort of breeders and every type of personal works to preserve a breed. Personally, I chose the working dog. Not because it is better but because that's what I do. I like to see them hitched up regularly, see them work in their environment doing what is natural to them - pull a sled. Every time I bought a dog from a working kennel, from working parents, I have never been disappointed. Maybe luck? My conclusion is that the physical aptitudes of a dog whose parents were working are innate.

Ourko                                    Pirani photo

TFH:  What makes you reject a dog?
LP: In my team, I don't reject any dogs because of their character. Even the most fearsome dogs don't scare me. There is always a solution to this type of problem. If I must reject a dog, it's mainly due to a physical problem. 

TFH: Let's talk about purity. What is your definition?
LP: To tell you the truth, I must say that my criteria for selection are still very much influenced by my experiences in France. I am using a recognized standardized method based on the Club de Race, with all its obligations and veterinary examination (x-ray, dysplasia, eye exam...). In France, the criteria for purity are determined by qualified judges who will award the registration papers after examining a litter. They take into consideration the genealogy of the parents. If there is any doubt, blood work is ordered to verify that the litter has been sired by the correct dog.

Here in Canada, things are different and I try very hard to adapt myself. I don't know all the studies that were made on this subject. Adding to this is the language (English), which I haven't fully mastered and everything becomes very blurry for me. Presently, my efforts mostly consist of research in the origin of the Canadian Inuit Dog and Greenland Dog. Is it the same dog? I do not know! Historically, it is logical that it is the same dog. Geneviève Montcombroux, in Canada and Jean Luc Delente, in France, are helping me the most that they can. They are real sources of data. All this to know what I can and can't do concerning the "purity" of the Inuit Dog.

TFH: In North America, few Inuit Dogs are registered with the Canadian Kennel Club. Have you had the opportunity to see registered dogs? And if yes, was there a difference?
LP: The answer is yes and no. I saw non-registered dogs that were very ugly, that did not correspond at all to the Inuit Dog standard. I also saw registered dogs that were very pretty corresponding perfectly to the standard. However, I also saw the opposite. My conclusion for this story is that registered or not everything depends on the owner (breeder), their ideas, their principles and their expectations, either, professional, passional, sportsman-like or ...FINANCIAL!

TFH: Let's talk about fights. How do you deal with the inevitable fights in your team?
LP: It all depends upon the different situation in which I'm in the moment the battle explodes. With the clients’ teams, I do not tolerate any battle of any sort. Often, I will change the "guilty dog" with another one. I will even put them in my sled if I have to. It is hard to deal with these conflicts when the clients are around. In general, my dogs listen to the sound of my voice and will often stop fighting. However, if this persists I need to involve myself physically. At the kennel, when it comes to huge fights (possession or power), I let the dogs "explain each other" once and for all as I secretly watch the action from behind. I let no other dogs close to them as they settle their differences. The more I interfere, the more disaster it will cause if and when the battle explodes. In conclusion, it takes two to tango! It depends what type of fight. Three quarters of the time, the dogs respond to my voice. I always have a small aluminum snow shovel with me. It makes a loud noise. As long as they are not hit on the head, muzzle or other sensitive points, it does not harm them. I use the effect of surprise to intervene between two quarreling dogs. Moreover, when I enter a fight it is not gently with a soft voice. I'm six feet tall and weigh 200 pounds, so when I arrive to separate them it is with a lot of speed and yelling. For the smaller battles, I have enough authority over my dogs to separate them with the sound of my voice. I respect and accept them the way they are with their laws and hierarchy. I do not interfere in the structure of the group. Even if my favorites dogs are being displaced. All of this is difficult, however inevitable... it's the breed that wants it that way!

Ludovic and his clients around the campfire         Pirani photo

TFH: How do you tell clients that the ISD is nice to people and that fighting in the pack is pretty normal?
LP: It is out of the question to put any type of fighting dogs with the clients... security and pleasure being my first concerns. I warn the clients that due to the nature of the dogs, there may be a fight breaking out but that they will never hurt people as long as you don't go and stand between the fighting dogs. I try to give my clients a group of dogs that is uniform in strength and compatibility of character. I arrange the teams so that the clients only drive no-problem dogs. I give  them a lecture on the ISD and mention their propensity to fight - because you never know when the mildest dog is going to take exception to his neighbor. If a few dogs have problems to solve when they are working, I put them with my team when taking out clients.

While out with my clients, I transform myself into a history and sociology teacher. I explain to them the migration of the first men and the fine line that they cultivated with their dogs. Before the modernization of transport, survival of these men and dogs depended mostly on the collaboration they had between each other. The survival of the men depended on their dogs and vice versa. There is a lot to say on this subject however, the list is way too long. I don't tell the clients everything on the first day since I keep some information for the long nights next to the fires all along the journey. The majority of the clients know a little about the sometimes violent reaction of the Arctic dogs and whatever the breed is. What the client doesn't know, and that I explain to them, is the cause of the battles. They are often surprised to learn that the majority of the battles on a trip are caused by a person who might pet a dog or give him a treat and the other dogs get jealous. They find this interesting and immediately correct the situation by either petting all the dogs or none.

TFH:  What are your plans for the future?
LP: My personal projects are for three unsupported expeditions: 1) from Natashquan to Blanc Sablonc, the north shore of the St. Lawrence River where it becomes the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Blanc Sablonc is the point, where it narrows between Newfoundland and Quebec, where it is sparsely populated. 2) along the Labrador coast. 3) along the western shore of James Bay. I want to live some big adventures (1,000 km +) alone with my dogs. I want to live with them in their world and travel by the oldest transport means: the sled. And I want to see the fabulous landscape of our magnificent country. In the near future, it is in my plans to develop this type of expedition. It demands a lot of thoughts and preparation.

My professional project is to develop my own tourist enterprise

My project for the dogs is to preserve and protect the Inuit Dog breed (Canadian or Greenland) the best that I can by keeping contact with breeders here in Canada and Europe.

TFH:  Anything else you want to add?
LP: The conclusion is that the Inuit Dogs are soft with human beings but rough between one another. The clients also discover this reality after spending six days in the forest with me and a team of Inuit Dogs. There is nothing better than life in common with these dogs to learn to better understand these wonderful and magnificent dogs - the best friend a man can have throughout adventure.

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