The Fan Hitch Volume 9, Number 4, September 2007

Journal of the Inuit Sled Dog

In This Issue....

From the Editor: Unfinished Business

FIDO: Leevan Etok

Fan Mail

In the News

Happy Tenth Anniversary, ISDI

Remembering Changi

Sledge Dog Memorial Fund Update

Inuit Dog Research Project Underway

The Canadian Animal Assistance Team

The Chinook Project Goes to Cambridge Bay

Hints and Tips: Building a Dog Box, Pt. 1

Book  Review: Across the Top of the World

IMHO: Friends, Pt. 2

Annual Index, Volume 9, The Fan Hitch

Navigating This Site

Index of articles by subject

Index of back issues by volume number

Search The Fan Hitch

Articles to download and print

Ordering Ken MacRury's Thesis

Our comprehensive list of resources

Talk to The Fan Hitch

The Fan Hitch home page

ISDI home page

Editor's/Publisher's Statement
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:

The Fan Hitch
welcomes your letters, stories, comments and suggestions. The editorial staff reserves the right to edit submissions used for publication.

Contents of The Fan Hitch are protected by international copyright laws. No photo, drawing or text may be reproduced in any form without written consent. Webmasters please note: written consent is necessary before linking this site to yours! Please forward requests to Sue Hamilton, 55 Town Line Rd., Harwinton, Connecticut  06791, USA or

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.
From the Editor....

"…The woods are lovely, dark and deep, 

But I have promises to keep, 

And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep."

From Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
  Robert Frost, American Poet, 1874-1963

Unfinished Business

Okay. I guess as the editor, I'm supposed to use this space in this issue to make mention of some special dates in history. The Inuit Sled Dog International is ten years old this month and Volume 9, Number 4 of The Fan Hitch marks the completion of nine years in publication. But all my life, my glass has been half empty and not half full. That's just the way I am. So instead of reflecting upon the ISDI's and its journal's "accomplishments", I cannot help but think how much more can be done specifically for the Inuit Sled Dog, because I believe what we are trying to do, what we have done, is not about the ISDI or The Fan Hitch or me personally, but it is all about the breed. And when I think about things that can be done, I do so with the belief that it is not, nor should it be the Inuit Sled Dog International or The Fan Hitch that will affect the outcome we would like to see for the breed – a living, thriving part of Inuit culture in the Arctic. We cannot make that happen. It is not for the ISDI or The Fan Hitch to make that happen. It is for people living across the Arctic to make it so. What is our place in this process? Where can we best make ourselves useful? I think we're still trying to figure that out. I think the ISDI and The Fan Hitch have, as the journal's double meaning name indicates, brought people from all over the globe (and not just the northern hemisphere either!) to a gathering place where strangers become friends, experiences are shared and ideas are exchanged. With every email I receive I am constantly amazed at the variety of folks who find their way to us, even if their reasons are remote to the breed itself.  I see our role as that of information source, facilitator and cheerleader.  

At times I confess to being more than a little frustrated at the pace of "progress", or what I'd like to think would be progress toward a secure future for the ISD. I try to remember my place and not be a hypocrite and act in a manner intrusive upon Inuit culture. (I am certainly no fan of Greenpeace and their kind who try to dictate and impose their agenda upon others.) When I think I may be getting "those feelings", I go back and re-read The Inuit Way. But right now I am almost to the boiling point. I am massively disappointed, angry, bewildered and impatient. I want answers. I want lines of communication opened and at least a dialogue initiated, and I want it to happen yesterday! So please bear with me for I am in one of those "qallunait ways": 

Dear Premier Paul Okalik (Nunavut), Makivik President Pita Aatami (Nunavik), ITK President Mary Simon, former ICC Chair and current Nobel Peace Prize nominee Sheila Watt-Cloutier,  

I am addressing the following remarks specifically to you and, as you have each been given a year's gift subscription to The Fan Hitch beginning March, 2007, I hope you are reading this and will take it to heart or at least pause a while to consider. 

Your dogs are still needlessly dying of preventable diseases and every time one stops breathing, I believe a little bit of your culture dies along with that dog! So what are you going to do about it? Please, this time answer my inquiry or at least acknowledge it, since you have failed to do that in the past. At least tell me to my face why I have no business caring so passionately about what happens to "your" breed. 

I know how complicated politics, economics and life are up north and I know there are so many other pressing issues facing Nunavut and Nunavik, and I know I am sitting here in a temperate climate wanting for something to happen thousands of miles and another culture away. But you need to stop for a moment and think about these concerns and try to see the big picture. Dogs are dying because they are not being vaccinated, the pure breed is in danger of dying out even if you have named it your territorial mammal or hold annual races in celebration of dogsledding as a tradition. The Avian Flu is on the wing (pun intended) and who knows what impact it might have on a major source of your country food, and when. There are other diseases found in nature that affect humans and, as we have learned down here, we look to the one interface between people and nature to act as a barrier and as a sentinel – our domestic animals. Please do not wait until there are too few pure Inuit Dogs to sustain a healthy population of them. They need vaccinations and other care and to be protected from further contamination by non-indigenous dogs brought to your region. And please do not wait until a health crisis takes hold among your people, one that might have been forewarned by the due diligence of a good veterinarian. (It was a veterinarian who was the first to identify the arrival of West Nile Virus in the western hemisphere.) 

Please consider the establishment of a system of permanent veterinary coverage/oversight for all your communities: the people, their dogs and the wild animals that sustain them.

This call for veterinary service in the north is nothing new. It is something the ISDI has made inquiries about in the past. And, as you will read in this issue of The Fan Hitch, we are certainly not the only ones who understand the need. This is not something only organizations have recognized. On our many trips up north, including this most recent one to Nunavik, Mark and I witnessed first hand not only a crushing need, but also heard from dog owners themselves who wanted reasonable access to veterinary care. Perhaps what is not readily apparent to them are the ways veterinary professionals would also be of value to the health and welfare of the human population, but I am certain that with a little public education, the multifaceted benefits of establishing a resident system of animal care and human health surveillance throughout the Canadian Arctic would be welcome. 

Well, that's my story and I'm sticking to it. 

I generally treat birthdays and anniversaries like just any another day. But this month I, too, am "celebrating" a significant date - passing into a new decade. And the term "mortality" seems to be taking on a much more significant meaning for me, as does the last stanza from Robert Frost's poem, Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening. Regardless of what role ISDI, The Fan Hitch or, on a personal level, I can or should play to the benefit of the Inuit Sled Dog, I feel I, too, have "miles to go before I sleep."

* * *
While this editorial may have reached its logical conclusion in the previous paragraph, I cannot sign off without taking this opportunity to express my gratitude to all the ISDI friends who, with or without ISD ownership, have believed in us and our goals and who have in so many ways been supportive of the Inuit Sled Dog. And thanks also to the many The Fan Hitch readers who have sent their kind letters, and thanks even to those few who took the time to write their letters of criticism. Production of the electronic and print versions of The Fan Hitch is a multi-step process and I want to give credit to "the staff" – especially my husband, Mark - who contribute so much to make this publication a reality. And of course, my profound thanks and appreciation goes out to all of you who have made the effort and taken the time to write articles for The Fan Hitch.  By unselfishly sharing your expertise, experiences, research and photography, you have surely benefited the Inuit Sled Dog! Without you this journal could not have existed all these years as a resource sought out and accessed by readers worldwide, from all walks of life. While it may seem logical to express my gratitude on occasions such as this anniversary/birthday month, please know that day after day I feel indebted - enormously relieved even - for all your fantastic support! You have lifted my spirits, helped to lighten the load of this job and have given me the strength to mush on.

Wishing you smooth ice and narrow leads,


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