The Fan Hitch Volume 8, Number 4, September 2006

Journal of the Inuit Sled Dog

In This Issue....

Editorial: The Northern Experience
A Nunavik Adventure
In the News
Fan Mail
Tip for the Trail: Keep it Clean
Behavior Notebook: Displacement, Discipline, Diversion, Disarming
 IMHO: Transitions
Index: Volume 8, The Fan Hitch

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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.


Pakaq the Pup (l)  and nine year old Qimmiq (r) give each other 
wary sideways glances                                Photo: Hamilton


by Mark Hamilton

Life demands much of us, but it teaches us as well. For instance, every now and again life comes along, whacks me in the back of the head and then demonstrates to me once again why I must learn to be more patient. And for me, I've come to believe that life is primarily about decisions, change and adaptation. 

Sue and I are now moving into a period with our dogs that will demand much of us in the way of decisions, change and adaptation. We currently have a dozen dogs, but our population's median age is ten years. It's reasonable to anticipate that the next several years will likely bring quite a lot of change to our kennel. Increasingly, over time, Sue and I have come to rely on the time tested and proven arctic ways of managing our dogs, discarding as many of the "southern" methods as practical. Our intention now, in light of the coming changes in our kennel, is to move from having multiple groups of dogs and teams to the traditional arctic approach of having just have one group, one team. This change will make the transition period we're entering even more of a challenge for us and the dogs. We expect the dogs will adapt quicker than we will. After all, Inuit Dogs are what they are because of their toughness and their ability to adapt. The ability to adapt is survival skill, and survival skills are something Inuit Dogs have in abundance. A good example of the Inuit Dog's ability to adapt is the way the five adult dogs we've brought down out of the Arctic dealt with that major change in their lives. Puggiq, Tiriganiaq, Amaruq, Goofy and Fiddich all accepted their new home and new owners in very short order. In fact, Puggiq, who got himself free on the Iqaluit airport grounds during a layover as we traveled south from Pond Inlet, came directly to us as soon as we called him by name despite the attraction of the sound of other dog teams staked out in the area. A second example is Goofy's behavior near the end of the car ride portion of his trip south. We had stopped at a highway department garage in the middle of the night to give him a few minutes outside the car. It was very dark everywhere except in the parking area in front of the garage. As we were walking back to the car, Goody spotted a large, white, roundish form off in the darkness behind the garage (it was a fuel container). Goofy reacted to it as if it were the thing he most associated with large, white, roundish objects - a polar bear. He turned, and squared off with the object, protecting himself and his people. He had to be encouraged a few times to turn and finish walking back to the car since every few feet he'd turn back to the object and square off with it again. Based on our experiences such as these we know the dogs will be fine.

So, our kennel will need to be reconfigured again at some point in the future as our group will need a larger run to live in that we currently have. Fencing panels will be moved and removed. Doors will be in new locations, as will dog houses and water buckets. I expect Sue and I will be reaching for doors that aren't there anymore long after the dogs have adapted to the new configuration.

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