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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Big Decision Made

Icoa with a young guest

Icoa and me after a long day on the trail

Ilu and Icoa in wheel position, tugs tight as usual, heading out for another adventure

Tukisi and Isis

Ilu the big bear

Ilu doing what he loves best; hugging anyone who gets within range

Icoa at rest during a day on the trail

For over two years now, there has much agonizing over a very important long term decision regarding the direction of the Points Unknown kennel. Issues have been analyzed and tossed back and forth. Lists of pros and cons are endless. The right decision became very clear over the winter and it was acted upon this morning. Icoa was dropped off at the vet to be spayed and the Inuit Dog line in the Points Unknown kennel will end with this action. Fortunately, her lines live on in the pups sent to Arctic Quebec in late 2005 for the Inuit Dog Recovery Program being executed by two school teachers in Nunavik.

The Inuit Dog is the tank of the sled dog world. It is the original sled dog used by the Inuit people for Polar Bear and Seal hunting and was/is the ideal dog for the harsh arctic lifestyle and climate. One story pointing to the evolution of this breed stands out. In some settlements, the dogs were placed out on islands when the sledding season was done and then those remaining were picked up for the return of the season. It was survival of the fittest. The strongest and healthiest were the first to eat and the first to breed, thus passing down those traits. If they weren't tough enough, nature took its course and they were no longer a part of the gene pool.

Their behavior is, to this day, very similar to their historical primitive behavior. They are very wolf-like in how they behave within their pack but are no closer to wolves genetically than a Daschound. They were bred to be companions of people as well as hearty working dogs and those who showed any aggression to people whatsoever were culled. Those who didn't come when called were either culled or starved to death. Therefore people aggression is not a problem in this breed, however dog aggression is and can be quite a lot to manage, especially when going in the direction of involving the public.

Points Unknown has a commitment to our four remaining wonderful Inuit Dogs until they pass on. The two oldest, Tukisi and Isis are now retired and will do very little pulling with the team. Icoa is almost 5 years old and her son Ilu is almost 3 years old. Those two were a big part of the Points Unknown "A" team last season and will remain a big part in the future. They are two of the mildest Inuit Dogs we have come across and their dog aggression management is minimal, allowing them to remain working in the "A" team. They were also the ambassadors of the kennel during our 2007-2008 adventure season, greeting everyone with a smile and displaying tummies for scratching or offering a big bear hug. They will continue to play this very important role in addition to the power they provide in the team.

The focus in the Points Unknown kennel will be our freight Alaskan lines consisting of historic remnants from villages in Alaska that were developed for trap line teams. One such line is the Hedlund Husky.

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