The Fan Hitch Volume 8, Number 3, June 2006

Journal of the Inuit Sled Dog

In This Issue...

Editorial: Diversity with a Common Interest
FIDO: John Senter
Developing a Culture of Mushers
The Inuit Sled Dog Registry
Arctic Inuit Sled Dogs: Life in Retirement
Inuit Dog Thesis Update
In the News
Fan Mail
Kennel Tip: Taking the Heat Off
Book Review: The Lost Men
 IMHO: Filling the Woodshed

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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.

In the News....

Spring 1998 in North Greenland              Photo: Manfred Horender, 
                                                                                  courtesy of Greenland Tourism Photo Service

Blizzard: Race to the Pole 

Beginning in August, 2006, BBC Two (United Kingdom) will air a six-part series based on Robert Falcon Scott's and Roald Amundsen's expeditions to be the first to reach the South Pole. Some of the scenes for this documentary were filmed in East Greenland (since dogs are no longer allowed on the Antarctic continent), using dog teams owned by local Greenlanders. The Inuit Sled Dog International has been following the making of this production with much interest. Months before filming in East Greenland began, we received an inquiry from Kelly Tyler-Lewis, who was in the process of writing The Lost Men: The Harrowing Saga of Shackleton's Ross Sea Party (See "Book Review" in this issue). In trying to better understand and describe the role of the dogs used by Shackleton's men, she asked for ISDI's help regarding characteristics of the Inuit Sled Dog to use as a "gold standard" comparison. During the frequent interchanges with the author, we learned that her husband, Nick Lewis, is a British Antarctic Survey veteran, now working for Poles Apart, which, according to its website, is "an environmental and location services group specialising in the world's extreme environments." Poles Apart was providing logistical support to the BBC Two production and, thanks to Nick's extremely generous offer and with Keo Film's blessing, ISDI was able to provide dozens of samples to a dog DNA research project in the United States. The collection of these samples was no simple task, given the extreme weather conditions and filming schedule, and ISDI is profoundly grateful to everyone involved for making this contribution possible.

Documentary on the Origin and Evolution of the Dog

In late April, 2006, the Inuit Sled Dog International was contacted by another British film production company. The Inuit Sled Dog was one of the breeds selected to be highlighted in a two-hour program on the origin and evolution of the dog from prehistoric times up to the present. (See "Fan Mail" in this issue.) In addition to requesting information and other resources about the breed, this company was "keen to film in 'timeless' Inuit territory, where we can see the dogs working in as traditional circumstances as is possible." This was quite a challenge since given the time of year, safe sledding conditions for the film crew were rapidly melting away and the filming could not be postponed! Fortunately, ISDI was able to put the company in touch with associates who offered many solid suggestions. In May, the crew was warmly received by the community of Clyde River, Nunavut on Baffin Island's central east coast.

The film company might not realize it, but their interest in the Inuit Sled Dog may well have unintended benefits to the breed. The attention they and others are now showing will hopefully spark a renewed interest by Inuit in restoring the pure ISD to their communities.

A film company representative expressed thanks to the Inuit Sled Dog International as well as to the various individuals ISDI recommended for the valuable support offered. ISDI would like to thank our network of supporters and associates all over the world for generously contributing their advice and expertise to this project and its production crew. 

The documentary is scheduled to air in the United States in April, 2007 and a DVD will be available shortly after that. Broadcast dates for other countries have not yet been set. More details will be published in The Fan Hitch as they become available.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police  Report

Despite the recent election of a new Canadian federal government, the RCMP process of investigating what they refer to as "allegations concerning Inuit Sled Dogs" (1950 to about 1970) and that Inuit organizations refer to as "the dog slaughter", is near completion. According to ISDI's contact within the RCMP, the internal report was submitted by the May, 2006 deadline and is in its final stages of approval before it can be deemed "official".

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