Mark Kallauk Collection, Nunavut Department of Education Curriculum and School Services.

Packing dogs

Packing dogs.

The use of dogs was critical to the success of Inuit over the peoples who had occupied the Arctic coats in earlier times. Dogs enabled Inuit to travel over long distances and to harvest the migratory games in the appropriate seasons.

Dogs are highly valued by Inuit and became important members of the camp. Children were often given the responsibility of raising puppies so that as they grew they were used to people. When dogs joined a team they became very reliant on one master and well trained and well cared for dogs would respond immediately to commands and to dangerous situations. Hunters and dogs worked as a team on the land.

Although most Inuit kept a few dogs, certain groups were known to have extensive teams. More dogs could take you longer distances, but keeping a large team came with the constant requirement to feed the dogs. Usually families inland had fewer dogs and coastal dwelling families could sustain more by adding whale, seal and walrus meat to their feed.