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SUE HAMILTON. The Fan Hitch
5 out of 5 stars. A valuable resource about this aboriginal landrace
December 2, 2018.
"Full disclosure: My husband, Mark, and I were friends with Siu-Ling Han. We became friends with her Mom and Dad as well. Readers of the elder Han's book will learn of my involvement in the process that led to its publication. Of course it should come as no surprise that, with some exceptions, Kim and I are like-minded on the subject of the Canadian Inuit Dog. Having said that, be assured that my role bore no influence upon my opinions expressed in this review.
The second thing readers will notice, after the three-dimensional cover layout of The Canadian Inuit Dog: Icon of Canada’s North, is the feel of the paper it is printed on. It felt soft and silky smooth…and vibrant. The unusual tactile sensation was an attention-getter for sure. Maybe in this case, contradictory to the old saying, a book can be judged by its cover.
Quickly flipping through front to back to get a first quick overview, I discovered yet another unusual feature. Every titled section, from foreword to bibliography was introduced by a different lovely edge-to-edge image… very eye-catching.
Han devotes thirty-two pages in three sections before chapter one. Nunavik dog teamer Allen Gordon’s foreword is a succinct and well-written gateway that raises the curtain on the world of the Canadian Inuit Dog. In her preface, Han explains to readers her motivation for her eight-year journey that brought her work to publication. In doing so she depicts what it is like for her daughter Siu-Ling, herself a talented dog teamer, to raise and use these traditional working animals; for the author to take a wild ride on a qamutiik and even to keeping retired dogs. In the introduction readers get to meet Inuk Elder Elijah Padluq (Han traveled to his home in Kimmirut, Nunavut to interview him) who, along with others in this book, recounts life on the land with their dog-partners.
Ten chapters reveal exhaustive research Han devoted to her book’s creation. She covers the historical timeline (ancient to recent), taxonomy (nomenclature), science (the circulatory system, the physiology of performance, evolutionary genetics and effects of domestication); health, social behavior; use by explorers (from hundreds of years ago to the 20th century) and of course in partnership with Inuit, then and now. She weaves a tapestry of Inuit social history, traditions and cultural practices throughout, many of which were narrated by Inuit Elders. Readers will learn the real meaning and importance of the Nunavut Quest, Qimualaniq Quest and Ivakkak dog team “races”. Han was undaunted about presenting sensitive issues affecting Inuit nomadic life as a result of forced relocations and the killing of their working dogs in the mid-20th century. She also contrasts the aboriginal landrace Canadian Inuit Dog and the cultured breed Canadian Kennel Club registered Canadian Eskimo Dog. While I found so much to love about The Canadian Inuit Dog: Icon of Canada’s North, I do wish Han drew more succinct conclusions codifying the difference between the two dogs, also devoting less space to the latter. And in her description of Belyaev’s landmark fur fox domestication experiment, I would have liked to have seen a very strong parallel between the loss of the animal’s most valued feature, its pelage, as a result of breeding based solely on biddable (e.g., domestic) behavior, comparing this example favorably to the transformation from aboriginal to cultured dog. The significance of Belyaev’s work in this regard cannot be overstated.
Han’s eye for detail clarifies the issues of barking, the term “malamute”, the gait known as pacing, subjects that have caused me to recoil at the flawed commentaries about them made by the unenlightened.
Han’s writing is rich in details presented in comfortable prose. The many Inuktitut terms she’s included are defined, and there’s a special section highlighting several words for different classifications of Inuit Dogs. There is a very generous inclusion of photos, both archival and modern (including ones donated by professional photographers who were eager to support Han’s book) appropriately placed to exemplify text. Most images of Inuit Dogs show them in their natural habitat.
I especially liked the way she wove elements of her interview with Elijah Padluq throughout the book including her final chapter. Although brief, chapter ten is a lovely wrap-up.
Han opened her Preface with, “Why would a librarian from Ottawa, Ontario who has never lived in the Arctic or managed a dog team write a book about the Canadian Inuit dog?” The profound love and admiration of her daughter, who only lived long enough to hold the publishing contract to her heart, was the Elder Han’s driving force. And it’s quite likely that in spirit, Siu-Ling remained nearby her mother’s computer as the online research progressed, remaining along side her as the book's text came forth.
Readers may also wonder just how a “librarian from Ottawa, Ontario who has never lived in the Arctic or managed a dog team” could successfully write such a book. Han’s skills as a librarian, her living near physical access to several fabulous Ottawa museum resources for on-site research and image acquisition, her firsthand knowledge, thanks to her daughter, into the world of the aboriginal landrace Canadian Inuit Dog, and her many Canadian Arctic friends – skilled and renowned dog teamers all – provided her support, resources and tales that have helped make The Canadian Inuit Dog: Icon of Canada’s North a fresh perspective, a must-have book to be enjoyed by Inuit Sled Dog and all northern working dog enthusiasts.
To further honor her daughter’s memory by writing The Canadian Inuit Dog: Icon of Canada’s North, Kim Han says she will “donate my royalties to Qimmivut, a program of the Ilisaqsivik Society in Clyde River, Nunavut. It is a non-profit Inuit organization that provides Inuit youth with an opportunity to be out on the land with recognized hunters, dog team owners and Elders. Working with dogs is at the heart of Inuit culture. It passes on traditional land skills, values and knowledge, and Inuit relationships with dogs, as well as all aspects of living a good, healthy lifestyle to promote and support youth mental health, in honor of Siu-Ling's wish to help where help is needed and to make this world a little better.”
5.0 out of 5 stars MUY BUEN LIBRO
Reviewed in Spain on December 10, 2018
Very good book Easy to read, interesting. With great contribution of photographs and knowledge. A book that can not be absent in the library of lovers of artistic dogs.
5 out of 5 stars. Excellent Introduction
December 10, 2018
"Excellent introduction to the Inuit Dog, written in memory of Kim Han’s late daughter, Siu-Ling, who was a beloved musher of Inuit dogs in Iqaluit.
The photos are simply beautiful. The interviews with Inuit gives the book an immediacy of the life in the Canadian North. There is a concise history of the Canadian Inuit dog and his importance to the Inuit. Throughout the book, Kim Han subtly reinforces the fact that the Inuit dog is not a pet. Kim Han points out that even an older, retired dog from a team, does not become a traditional pet and a new owner needs to know and understand the nature of the Inuit dog.
Kim Han touches on the DNA science which has shown that the Inuit dog is unique and not related to any of the common cultured breeds. It is definitely an aboriginal dog. A short section on polar expeditions is a reminder that men could not have achieved those lofty goal without the Inuit dog.
The Canadian Inuit Dog: Icon of the North is a good read. And if your copy has Amundsen staying six weeks at the South Pole, ignore it. It should read that Amundsen reached base camp six weeks after leaving the Pole."
5 out of 5 stars. MUST READ!!!
February 3, 2019
"Fabulous, well researched, realistic look at the CED. The dedication and love of the breed shows through as does the deep knowledge base. This is the book I would recommend for anyone interested in the breed and polar dogs The story behind the writing of this book is also fascination. Must Read!"
5 out of 5 stars. A Wonderful gift of love
February 3, 2019
"A gift from a daughter to her mother.
Siu-Ling’s experience of life and dedicated work with and for the people of Nunavut. The appreciation of Inuit culture and the importance of the Canadian Inuit Dog therein. The knowledge passed through the hands of her mother Kim to the reader. Many years of conscientious research and diligent work created a book, professionally written and beautifully visually presented. A wealth of knowledge, gives us, who are not very familiar with the Inuit life, a deeper understanding. A testimony to Siu-Ling’s amazing personality, her very special love of the Inuit Dog and her deep concern for the Inuit society.
A work of love, a gift of awareness. The important value of traditional Inuit lifestyle and it’s need to be passed on."
5 out of 5 stars. A well-written book that respects the Inuit Dog's history.
June 18, 2019
"I received the book as a birthday gift and I really enjoyed it. The book is well written compared to its competitors about the Canadian Inuit Dogs: with minimal to no errors in grammar. The book respects the indigenous people's oral history about the dog breed and provides wonderful insight into the cultural importance of Canadian Inuit Dogs. Canadian Inuit Dogs are the true icon of Canada's North and hopefully, the rest of Canada realizes the significant role that these dogs play in maintaining the indigenous people's way of life and sovereignty. The indigenous people respected the Canadian Inuit Dog breed and this book highlights the many reasons why it is so revered among them."
5 out of 5 stars. Terrific book.
June 25, 2019
"My review (earlier from Nunatsiaq News): If you want to know more about Inuit dogs or you’re just a dog-lover, a recently published book points the way as clearly as a hungry dog team heading home over the ice.
The Canadian Inuit Dog: Icon of Canada’s North by Kim Han offers readers many beautiful photos of dogs, historical illustrations and more than enough solid information. The clear, easy-to-understand style of the book makes you feel that you learned a lot, without even working at it.
And there’s a lot to learn about Inuit dogs: you probably did not realize that in the winter, sled dogs don’t drink water as much as they eat it.
Some of this water is trapped in the food they eat. Other water is produced by the dogs’ metabolism as it breaks down fat for energy. Inuit dogs are also not just your average dog in other ways, too.
This photo of Inuit dogs pulling a sled, by Mike Beedell, is one of the many photos and illustrations in The Canadian Inuit Dog: Icon of Canada’s North.
“Inuit dogs are said to still have one foot in the wild. They do not bark like cultured dogs, but make guttural sounds, yelping and howling like wolves,” Han writes.
As Han describes the Inuit dog, it has a broad chest and a robust, muscular body built for stamina. It also has a thick neck, a wedge-shaped head and medium-length legs.
“The most obvious difference is tail carriage. The Inuit dog has a big, bushy, sickle-shaped tail carried in a tight curl over its back, especially when it is happy,” she writes.
In Han’s book you’ll find a history of the dogs that stretches back thousands of years, to Asia. According to the Canadian Kennel Club, there are less than 200 “registered Canadian Eskimo Dogs,” because Inuit and non-Inuit in the North do not register their dogs.
The Natural History Museum of Denmark at the University of Copenhagen estimated in 2000 there were about 20,000 Greenland dogs. Ten years later, that number had fallen to 15,000. In 2018 there are even fewer, Han said.
In her book, Han writes that this continuing decline is attributed to climate change and shrinking sea ice, which makes it more difficult for hunters to travel on the sea ice for marine mammals. Among the other factors cited are the growing number of snowmobiles and fewer people using dog teams.
While researching her book, Han spoke with many people, Inuit and non-Inuit involved with Inuit dogs as well as numerous experts. It was a labour of love: she wrote the book to honour her daughter, Siu-Ling Han, a longtime Iqaluit resident and dog-team runner who died in 2016 of cancer.
“I have never lived in the Arctic and never managed a team of Inuit dogs,” her mother Kim said. “But I had the opportunity to go dog sledding in the Arctic, help raise and train Inuit dog puppies, and care for them in their retirement.”
Han plans to donate the income from this book to Qimmivut, a land-based program of the Ilisaqsivik Society.
This mental-health and mentoring program for Inuit youth will honour Siu-Ling and “the way she cared about people, the environment, northern wildlife and her beloved Inuit dogs,” Han said.
Allen Gordon, a Kuujjuaq musher who acquired from Siu-Ling two sister pups, Tarqirk and Piqatik, that helped form the foundation of his dog team, said, “’The Canadian Inuit Dog: Icon of the Canada’s North’ is a great book,” in his foreword.
“Kim writes about the toughest dog on earth,” Gordon said.
Inuit dogs allowed people for the first time to reach both north and south poles when attempts with different animals had failed, he said.
“Kim also touches on a sad, dark history regarding the killings of sled dogs by the authorities,” he said."
5 out of 5 stars. Well written with great pictures.
August 21, 2019
"I recommend it!"
5 out of 5 stars. Fascinating and Inspiring.
November 1, 2019
"Kim Han writes knowingly and beautifully about the Canadian Inuit dogs as she and her daughter experienced them. Learning about these amazing dogs and how they were interwoven into the history of the Arctic and the Inuit people gave me great insight to this way of life. It's truly a love story in many ways."
November 2, 2019
"I can not say in words how much I loved this book. The passion that Mrs. Han, has for both these dogs and her beloved daughter, is amazing. I bought a second book for my Vet who saved my Canadian Inuit Dogs life. She stated she learned so much about these dogs after the book, for my dog was the 1st CID she ever seen. Amazing Book!"
Reviewed in the United States on March 17, 2021
Excellent and readable story about this exceptional creature. Anyone that enjoys dogs, and especially being with working dogs will enjoy this book.
Reviewed in the United States on November 8, 2019
Amazing book written with love and dedication to wonderful animals and a people who are one with the natural world. Kim Han does them justice while educating us along the way. Wonderful book!
Reviewed in the United States on November 11, 2019
Can't be more thankful to Kim for had write this perfect book, if you're a Canadian Inuit lover you have absolutely to read it!
Reviewed in the United States on July 28, 2020
Before reading Kim Han’s book “The Canadian Inuit Dog: Icon of Canada's North” I had no idea what I didn’t know about these beautiful, dedicated, hard working and skillful dogs!
As a young boy over 50 years ago, I always loved the Sergeant Preston and Yukon King TV show on the little 12 inch black & white TV and I remember how Sergeant Preston's faithful dog team lead by Yukon King got him through the snow and blizzards to help save people as he would call out "On, King! On, you huskies!” as Yukon King saved the day! I thought all Alaskan Dogs were Huskies so I had quite an education about the amazing Canadian Inuit Dogs so beautifully share through Kim’s first hand experience with her beloved daughter SuLing and her awesome dogs!!!...
You can feel the love and caring that comes through her writing and the photographs in this dedicated book!!!... Treat yourself to an enlightening experience as this book transports you to and amazing place and time!!!... Thank you very much for sharing your daughter, her dogs and your experience with us Kim!!!... :-) THX Gary Niki…
Reviewed in the United States on November 13, 2019
As an artist and animal-lover, this book grabbed me from the outset by its photographs - at least one on nearly every page, sometimes three on one page, and at the beginning of every chapter a photo spread over two facing pages. The dogs are gorgeous, and this revelation of their life is fascinating. Along with such visual satisfaction, the text is impressive, very widely and deeply researched, without seeming academic. There is more to learn than I would have guessed. I'll admit, I was also charmed by the personal stories, especially by the lead dog who saved his master's baby.
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing book
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on June 7, 2020
Absolutely vital book for anyone interested in proper Arctic sledding breeds. Stunning pictures and really fascinating reading.
Kathleen Feres Patry
5.0 out of 5 stars I fell in LOVE with this book!!
Reviewed in Canada on May 9, 2020
This book was obviously a labour of love and was dedicated to the memory of the Author's daughter SuLing. I loved the photos and felt a real connection to the people and animals featured by Author Kim Han. The book was packed with details and data that make it a great book for the waiting area of our practice because visitors can skim through it. You'll appreciate and enjoy it too.
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read
Reviewed in Canada on July 16, 2021
A great read. I learned a lot. Will read it again.
4.0 out of 5 stars For Sled Dog Enthusiasts
Reviewed in Canada on April 14, 2020
Kim Han's book is a valuable review of the history of the sled dog and its rightful place in the the Canadian North.