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Saturday, 10 July 2010

The Dog Lands (featuring mini huskies!)



IMG_5794

Ilulissat (where we saw the polar bear skin) was the first stop on our tour of Greenland; it's a small town of around 4,000 people, and almost as many dogs. There used to be more - twice as many, a decade ago.

These aren't house pets, like the dogs we see in England. Every one of them is a working animal (or, in the case of the puppies, destined to become one). Indeed, if you have a pet dog then you wouldn't be allowed to take him above the Arctic Circle in Greenland - so as not to interfere with the purity of  the native husky population, no other species is allowed. And likewise, if a husky travels south of the Arctic Circle, he isn't allowed to return.

That's not the only law relating to these dogs. It's also a legal requirement that dogs older than five months be chained. The town provides anchoring points for the chains.

This results in large areas of land where dogs live - and humans don't. There are sheds and kennels, water butts and sledges... but mostly, there are dogs. Sometimes howling or snarling, usually sleeping because the summer sun means it's really too hot for their thick coats. When we took paths which cut across the dog lands, we felt strangely out of place.

Feeding the huskies


And, at this time of year, there are puppies. Miniatures; tiny, fully-working models of husky sled dogs.

Husky puppies

Andrew has a way with animals - they all just love him, and these pups were no exception. Every time we passed a new husky family, the babies would come and gather round his feet.

Husky puppies playing

Which was great for us, but often left the mother dog feeling a little confused as to why her babies had abandoned her. One mother in particular was extremely perturbed, and continued to whine at us for the whole time we were there. Since she was chained up, some metres away, that was all she could do to tell us - and her puppies - that she was unhappy.

Husky mother

As you can probably guess, we spent a lot of time photographing the puppies at play. Unlike the adults (who were suffering in the heat), the babies were energetic and enthusiastic in their play-fighting. I could have watched them for hours.

Rachel photographing husky puppies

Husky puppies playing

Husky puppies playing

Husky puppies playing

I feel sad to think that in a few months, they'll all be chained alongside their older relatives. I bet they can't wait for the relative freedom of winter, when they at least get to run, even if there is a sled to pull.

24 comments:

Fly Girl said...

What fascinating facts. I never knew Greenland had laws like that. It is sad though, a life of just work seems so harsh. Do the dogs live as long and pet huskies do? I've always loved that breed, the pix are adorable.

Tabor said...

This is interesting. I guess if your life and your livelihood depends on these guys you tend to treat them very differently than pets. It is a good thing they are not mean or dangerous.

Mama Hen said...

Rachel I loved this post! The babies are so adorable! The pictures are so beautiful! What an adventure you are on! I feel bad for the adult dogs though. Thank you for sharing this very interesting post! Have a great day!

Mama Hen

ScoMan said...

Those puppies are cute and it's an interesting fact about the legislation to protect the pure breed of the husky.

It's sad though that their numbers are dwindling. Either that or the human numbers are growing. 4,000 of these dogs in that area is not enough.

It's also sad that they spend their lives chained up. Poor dogs.

Kel said...

What a great post Rachel. I love learning new things, and this one is definitely new. I feel kind of bad for the dogs. Even though they are chained up, do they still have people visiting them to show them some love? Or are they on their own for the most part (except for food and water). I love your travel stories. Hopefully, one day I'll get to experience some of this stuff myself.

Writing Without Periods! said...

I love your photos of these cute pups. Wonderful.
mary

Mama Hen said...

I gave you ana ward Rachel! You deserve it!

Mama Hen

Domestic Executive said...

I am increasingly coming to terms with the notion of working dogs. Dogs that live and die outside. Even if they are totally cute. Can't see bassets surviving in such a dog eat dog world!

Angelia Sims said...

Oh cute, cute puppies!! I had no idea about the separation but that does make sense. Now I know why the run so hard and fast in the winter. I don't blame them.

Great pics Rachel and is Andrew the puppy whisperer? LOL.

:-)

L.C.T. said...

Oh wow so adorable!

Dedene said...

That's very interesting. The puppies are adorable, and the dogs are so important to the natives' lives.

CambridgeLady said...

What a wonderful blog! I have lots of reading to do. Fabulous photographs too :o)

SilverNeurotic said...

I would hate to think of my german shepard chained up all the time like that, that's actually heartbreaking.

christine said...

cute puppies, but poor parents! It's not much of a life if you're chained up in "dogland", or running and pulling heavy sleds! I'm guessing the adults must be very territorial and/or aggressive if they need to be chained up after 5 months - do they wander about at will until this great age? How frustrating for the parent dog not to be able to supervise a youngster if it chooses to "go walkabout"! Fascinating:-)

ladyfi said...

Oh, what adorable fluffy balls of fun! Such a shame that they have to be chained up...

liliannattel said...

Wonderful photos. I'd like to know more about the dogs. I've heard a bit about them before (a neighbourhood mom does research in Greenland). Why the particular rules about them? What happens to them if they go south that makes it unfeasible for them to return (other than the fact of the law)? And why the necessity for chains?

Deirdre said...

This part of the tour would have been bittersweet for me. I hate seeing animals chained or cooped up.

The photographs are wonderful, though. :)

carma said...

very interesting. Not sure I'd be at ease with all those dogs around but those pups are precious.

Expats Again said...

I share the same sentiments as your other readers. Interesting to learn the traditions and customs of Greenland, but with respect to the working dogs, not so much. More saddened.

Joey @ Big Teeth and Clouds said...

Wow, I never knew any of that. The puppies are so cute - it's sad to see them all tied like that. I'm sure it's a much happier sight in the winter.

lakeviewer said...

Very interesting information about these working dogs and their habitats.

M @ Betty Crapper said...

Those dogs are so cute. I love all their play.

I've given you an award.
http://bettycrapper.blogspot.com/2010/07/sunshine-award.html

JDaniel4's Mom said...

What cuties! The dog laws are so interesting.

LindyLouMac said...

How fascinating to learn these facts. I never knew Greenland had laws like these, learning about such things is what I find so interesting about blog reading. Thankyou.

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