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
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Young female ISD Inka submitting to goat and alpaca   Photo: Feder

Road Food Inuit Dog Style

reported by Sue Hamilton

Anyone who is acquainted with or has heard of Sylvia Feder knows of her formidable skills as a musher and trainer of Inuit Sled Dogs. Her expertise has also enabled her to keep a peaceable kingdom (à la Edward Hicks'  Peaceable Kingdom paintings) of cats, goats, chickens, alpacas, ferrets, as well as three male and one female Inuit Dog on her property in the Pacific Northwest state of Washington.

While I have no doubt she owns a snow hook, I suspect she seldom needs to use it, and not because of too little snow. I have watched home videos of her sledding adventures and marveled at how well her dogs respond to her soft, barely over a whisper voice cheerfully issuing commands, encouragement and praise. I was amused as well as impressed by the following story she told of a sledding experience on her January, 2006 visit to Jeff Dinsdale's place in Quesnel, British Columbia, Canada to participate in the annual Gold Rush Trail Sled Dog Mail Run.

"On my trip up to Jeff's, for several days in a row on my runs with my team of four, I had passed a fellow on a four-wheeler setting live-snares for rabbits. I was a bit disgruntled with him because he was setting the snares literally a step off the trail, at a distance that a dog wouldn't even have to go into the deep snow to get a snack. He had a dog team himself (so he said) and I mentioned this to him.

Apparently it didn't make much of an impact, because on the third day, on a rather steep downhill, we came upon a rabbit  (I guess it was a rabbit, though I never saw it). I was relaxed on the back of the runners, enjoying the sunrise, without a care in the world, when the entire team came to a sudden stop, ending in one furry ball, punctuated by a few muffled squeaks. As I tried to process what was happening, the ball came apart, each dog with a piece of rabbit, neatly divided and nearly bloodless. It was over before I could even get off the sled, with the dogs swallowing hard, wagging their tails, and lining back out on the trail; never a growl, never a bad word, just a few tufts of fur floating in the air and a bit of stained snow.

I felt bad for the rabbit, but truly there was nothing I could do. When I told this story at Jeff's later that day, the other mushers were quite impressed. They apparently think my dogs are rather "soft" and they were pleased to hear that they are at least capable of dismembering a rabbit."

Sylvia's team at work and at rest   Photos: Feder


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