Monday, June 13, 2011

VoM2:Greenland Dogs

Ilulissat — with a human population of 2,500 and a canine population of 3,500 — claims to be “the dog capital of the world” (or something like that). I can’t vouch for the accuracy of either number, but it seems about right. There are dogs literally everywhere, spread out in haphazard dog yards just about anywhere you look.

There are also a lot of dogs running loose, which cause quite a ruckus as they wander in and around those who are tied up to rocks and/or the oddest collection of dog houses you can imagine. Their conditions are pretty basic — though quite satisfactory — and they all appear to be in good health. They certainly have one of the best views in the world!

They are the famous Greenland sled dogs, of course, somewhat bigger and hairier than Alaskan huskies. Their reputation for being vicious, however, doesn’t quite seem to add up. I’ve forced myself to heed the warning not to go too near them, but the number of wagging tails and other body-language invitations I’ve received in reply to my verbal overtures make me suspect they’re as friendly as any dogs anywhere. I hope to smooch a few before I leave!

I’ve had little luck striking up a conversation with any of their bosses due to language barriers, though I did have some pantomime communication with the local musher you see above who proudly showed me his newest puppies, a few pups who are big enough to be outside, the proud parents, his best dog, etc. (I’ve got a video clip that I’ll try to upload soon!)

I’m trying to track down a lead on a local musher who has good English — he does a show and tell for the tourists a few times a week — and see if I can get a little more of the inside story on the dogs, the similarities and differences in mushing technique, etc... Stay tuned!

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