The Fan Hitch Volume 8, Number 2, March 2006

Journal of the Inuit Sled Dog

In This Issue...

Editorial: Tradition: Passing the Torch
Fan Mail
F.I.D.O.: Kevin Slater
Dog Yard Noise
Road Food Inuit Dog Style
Differences in Mushing: Greenland and Arctic Canada, Part III
How Much is That Doggie in the Window?
Product Review: MAXIGUARD® Zn7™ Derm
 IMHO: People, People, People

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Editor: Sue Hamilton
Webmaster: Mark Hamilton
The Fan Hitch, Journal of the Inuit Sled Dog, is published four times a year. It is available at no cost online at:

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This site is dedicated to the Inuit Dog as well as related Inuit culture and traditions. It is also home to The Fan Hitch, Journal of the Inuit Sled Dog.

Daniel Annanack’s nephew, John Jack Seguin 
with Piuna, a Qimmiit Utirtut pup.  He was 
one of the guides in a student excursion with 
dog teams, and is a musher in the Ivakkak.
                                   Photo: Brazeau

People, People, People

by Mark Hamilton

I've never made a secret of the fact that I greatly admire Douglas Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.  My perception is that in it Adams, as is the case with many other authors, finds it easier to discuss his perceptions of reality by writing fiction. Late in the story, while examining the issues of politics and power, Adams first summarizes his statement, then summarizes each preceding summary until he finally distills his original statement down to "People are a problem". Indeed!

If you read The Fan Hitch on a regular basis you already know that there are a couple of efforts now underway in Nunavik to establish teams of pure Inuit Dogs. These are private efforts by individuals with an appreciation for the dogs and their historical significance to Inuit culture. These are decidedly not big budget, government funded projects. They are based solely on local interests and local needs.

So why would somebody contact these people and offer to sell them dogs for a couple thousand dollars each? Or why would someone caution them against obtaining dogs from Nunavut because of a (non-existent) distemper outbreak? Or assert that dogs aren't pure because they aren't registered with the Canadian Kennel Club (CKC)? Or that their project was doomed to failure because the dogs weren't registered with the CKC? This seems like a good time to recall Adams' cautionary statement "People are a problem".

We've talked before about "people" and their newly discovered interest in the ISD, due to its increased visibility. People want to be involved for a variety of reasons. To sincerely want to do something to help is understandable, even commendable. Wanting to get one to "see what they are like" is not. Wanting one "before they are all gone", to make them into companion dogs or family pets is definitely not useful to the survival of the working ISD. It's a hindrance. People involved in conformation showing of the hunting breeds often point out the differences between "field" dogs and "show" dogs. Among those people there are many who will further state that a field dog (capable of going out every day and working a hunt) is not as "structurally correct" as a show dog. Those people's myopic vision is wrong and their point of view and mind set definitely would not be useful to the survival of the working ISD. I think it is time to remind ourselves again of Adams' caution. "People are a problem".

I have to say that it seems like we've now reached a stage where we need to be more aware of who is a friend, and who isn't. For me, anyone who is looking to turn everyone else's efforts into their own personal cash cow is no friend, as are those people who insist everyone must use an offensive, archaic name to identify this breed. Further, anyone implying that just because dogs are not registered with an all breed kennel club they aren't "pure", or that show dogs are more correct then proven working dogs, or that success in a repopulation program is only possible through all breed club registration, for me that person is anything but a friend. In fact, those people are all trying to make trouble for their own personal gain. There are lots of words that describe people exhibiting these kinds of behavior, and none of them are "friend".

Time to revisit that Douglas Adams statement one more time. "People are a problem". We've seen that, and now it's time for us acknowledge it and act accordingly.

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