Table of Contents
F.I.D.O.: Ken Beattie
Nunavik Dog Slaughters, Part II
In the News
Behavior Notebook: Life in the Pack
Book Review: Soldiers & Sled Dogs
Janice Howls: Preserving Nature's Standard
IMHO: Tough Dogs, Tough Owners
|From the Editor.....
This issue of The Fan Hitch presents the first F.I.D.O. who doesn't own, or has ever owned or worked Inuit Sled Dogs. In this case F.I.D.O. stands for Fantasy Inuit Dog Owner. I have known Ken Beattie for several years and have no doubt he is a true ISD enthusiast. He personifies my belief that the Inuit Sled Dog links so many of us together, and not just those who own, have owned or whose career involved Inuit Sled Dogs. To those of you who don't fit into one these three categories, but who accept the ISDI's goal of preserving this ancient arctic breed in its purest form as a working dog, please don't feel you are standing on the outside looking in. We all share something important. The ISDI welcomes you to our numbers. Although the first F.I.D.O. of his kind, Ken is hardly the only one who has stepped forward to share similar thoughts about what ISDI is trying to accomplish. It hasn't always been easy or comfortable to defend our "line drawn in the sand" with respect to our position and vision for the breed, as Janice Dougherty howls in "Preserving Nature’s Standard". Therefore I must confess that letters from other non-ISD owners, like the ones you will read in Fan Mail, are uplifting and encouraging.
We are also mightily encouraged by other connections and collaborations we continue to make. Since the last issue of The Fan Hitch, a lively discussion has blossomed between ISDI coordinators and Chuck Dean, author of Soldiers & Sled Dogs: A History of Military Mushing. We are now working with him to expand his web of contacts and dig up more information on the wartime use of all kinds of sled dogs. In the process we may be able to learn more about the contribution of our breed.
One of our most exciting collaborations began last December simply with an order for Ken MacRury’s thesis from an author doing research for a book on Sir Ernest Shackleton's Ross Sea Party. It turns out that while this is going on, the husband (who happens to be a British Antarctic Survey veteran) of this talented pair was working with a British film company on a documentary being shot in Greenland about the Scott and Amundsen race to the South Pole. Since dogs, lots of dogs, were to be a part of the story, I mustered the courage to ask if there was any way DNA might be collected from some of them for a U.S. research team ISDI is working with. You could have knocked me over with a feather when not only did this fellow offer to facilitate the collection of the specimens, the film company expressed great interest and enthusiasm for what ISDI was working on. Wow! ISDI enthusiasts, friends and collaborators around the world generously offered any technical assistance for this film project that might be required - all pulling together.
But there's more. A researcher with whom we've become friends by helping find DNA for her project, in turn, offered to collect even more DNA samples for other research projects. And now even the researchers have been sharing DNA samples from Inuit Dogs! Double Wow!!
And then there's our budding relationship with folks in Mongolia, yes MONGOLIA, who are anxious to develop dogsledding in their country. While it is unlikely that Inuit Dogs will be involved (the working dogs in Mongolia seem to be flock guarding breeds), we are eager to help those eager to learn about mushing. But in the process of learning more about these folks, we ran across another place just about due north of them in the Lake Baikal region of Russia whose web site contains sled dog images that look remarkably like what we might guess are Russian Inuit Sled Dogs. Triple Wow!!!
In his 1929 story "Chains" Hungarian author Frigyes Karinthy postulated that everyone on this planet is acquainted in some way to every other person on this planet with no more than five people in between them. This popular theory, examined by scientists, turned into a game and the theme of a movie starring Will Smith and Donald Sutherland, is referred to as "Six Degrees of Separation". It seems as if the ISDI is both proof of this theory and is working to ensure it is true.
Wishing all of us smooth ice and narrow leads on our future adventures,
Inuit Sled Dog International's New Look and Address
The ISDI's web site is being redesigned and will also be
moving to a
new web address. Watch for the new appearance at
sometime in the next quarter year.
* * *
In the December 2003 The Fan Hitch editorial, I referred to the image in my photo as an "inuksuk". According to Norman Hallendy in his book Inuksuit: Silent Messengers of the Arctic, what I ignorantly defined as an inuksuk, that which acts in the capacity of a human, was actually an innunguaq, that which has the likeness of a human. I regret the inaccuracy and encourage those who might have shared the same misperception to read Hallendy's enlightening book for a thorough education about the practical, cultural and spiritual meanings and significance of these visual forms of communication. The author reveals an intimate and precious understanding of the many shapes given to these stone figures thanks to forty years of mentoring by his close Inuit friends. Inuksuit: Silent Messengers of the Arctic by Norman Hallendy; Douglas & McIntyre, Ltd. ISBN1-55054-874-3. 127 pages of stunning landscape photography and text, including Inuktitut definitions. $35.00 CAD.