The Fan Hitch Volume 7, Number 2, March 2005

Journal of the Inuit Sled Dog

Table of Contents

Editorial: Sirius Patrol, Canadian Style
F.I.D.O.: Allen Gordon
Nunavik Dog Slaughters, Part I
Pregnancy, Whelping and Pup Development in the ISD, Part II
Fan Mail
Tip for the Trail: Building a Dog Ramp
In the News
Behavior Notebook
Janice Howls: Transition to Primitive
 IMHO: Change

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Fan Mail.....

                                          Photo: Siu-Ling Han

Reader Comments on Pregnancy, Whelping and Pup Development Part I

I read the article entitled "Pregnancy, Whelping and Pup Development Part I" in the last issue of The Fan Hitch with interest and while I agree with most of the material, there are two areas where my experience and practices were quite different from the assertions made by author Geneviève Montcombroux. Firstly, I believe the pups should be born outdoors, with shelter for the bitch but definitely outdoors in a situation that is as close to natural as possible.  Some pups may not survive. That is normal.  The struggle, which Geneviève refers to as "against the forces of nature, etc.", is not that at all.  It is to ensure that only the fittest survive - those that are best able to provide the best genes to the next generation.  We have only to look at most of today's purebred dogs to see where allowing and ensuring that all pups survive has led for those breeds.  We do not want to go in that direction.  I also feel that a more natural birthing will assure within the breed the ability of the bitch both to produce her pups without the need for intervention as well as to retain her good mothering capabilities that are so highly developed within the Canadian Inuit Dog. If the bitch is not a good mother then more of her pups will not survive to pass on those maternal faults.

I will relate stories of two bitches. Lady produced twenty-one pups in three litters.  All were spring or summer births, all in what I would call ideal conditions, with a nice shelter in a large pen. In total Lady was able to bring only two pups to adulthood.  All the rest she killed, not outright, but by neglect and inappropriate behavior such as moving a litter in a pouring rainstorm from their warm and dry box to a hole she had dug under the house and which was half full of cold water.  How does one explain this other than to believe that she was not meant to pass on her genes?  She was also the best lead dog I ever had, more of  a working woman than a mother.  On the other extreme there was Nixee who had her pups earlier than expected, in February, during a blinding blizzard at -30ºC.  She left her unheated, man-made shelter box, dug a hole in a snow bank, and produced seven pups. Two days later, alive and healthy, they were given some protection from the raging storm in an unheated garage. All seven thrived and went on to be great working dogs.

The breed is what it is today because only the best survived. And the testing for the best begins at birth. I also believe there are some pups that have some defects unseen by us but which the bitch has recognized.  On numerous occasions I have come to look at a litter and found a pup away from the bitch.  I returned the pup to the warmth of the bitch and several hours later found the same pup again away from the bitch. Again I returned the pup.  This went on until one time I came to check on the mom and  litter and the same pup was dead of the cold, often in the morning.  I believe the bitch had deliberately pushed the pup away and allowed it to die for some particular reason that was not obvious to me.

The other comments I want to make relate to Geneviève's admonition to not let anybody near the mother or pups for five days as the bitch will "lunge aggressively toward a new face and in doing so could injure a pup."  Never mind the pup, what about the face?  Seriously, there is something wrong here if a bitch reacts like that.  I always had my children handling pups within a day or two of their birth. In fact on one occasion when a bitch was giving birth, I came home from work to find my four-year-old daughter and three of her tiny friends in the pen holding new born pups while they watched a pup being born.  It was a bit of a shock to me but the point is that the bitch did nothing aggressive. In traditional times, as Geneviève relates, the pups could be born in the igloo and in that situation the bitch had to relate to everyone who entered the igloo, child or adult, family or stranger, and one act of aggression would have been her last.

Ken MacRury

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Greetings from Poland!

First I'd like to thank you and all "Fan Hitch People" who make all effort to gain and share their info about ISD. Hope, that your passion gives you great pleasure and satisfaction.

You wrote about your cautious nature. I really don't like people who smile wide and say OK all the time while in their heads are other feelings hidden. I prefer true, even when it hurts. People with strong characters know what they want. They also know how to get it. You are one of them! Do never loose your target off your sight! What you do is IMPORTANT.

So please, do what you do now, don't change anything and together with other "crazy ISD people" share your passion with me!

I remain
Yours sincerely
P. S.

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