Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Game of Wolves

So What, Exactly, Is a 'Northern Inuit Dog'?

Now that even I have seen (most of) the HBO series, "Game of Thrones," the question is, "What kind of creatures are the 'Dire Wolves' in the show?  Well, it depends on which season the animals are portrayed in. 

"In 2011 HBO’s Game of Thrones Season 1, adapted from Geroge R R Martin’s Song of Ice & Fire series, first aired on TV and the show became an instant hit worldwide. Northern Inuits bred by NIS Breeders were selected to play both the puppy and the young Direwolves in Season 1. In later seasons of Game of Thrones, as the Direwolves became adults, wolves which were enhanced using CGI were used to portray Direwolves due to the size Direwolves were said to grow to in the books."


Wolf! (CGI)

Of course, in the grand tradition of "video games make kids violent" the show, along with the "Twilight" franchise, is blamed for the rise in numbers of wolfish-looking dogs being abandoned.  But actually, it is the fault of idiots who run out and buy husky puppies, and then abandon them when they actually turn out to be work to maintain.  Do these people make any effort to find out what's involved in keeping a dog - any dog - let alone a husky-type dog?

Of course they don't.  They just say, "Oh!  Cool!  I want one.  It'll look awesome and the chicks will dig it!"

And indeed, they do look cool.  But they are a lot of work.

So what about the dogs of Game of Thrones?

Here's what their breed organization would have you believe:
click to enlarge

Sooooo.  They're hedging on whether or not there's any wolf in their breed.  "Probably not, they say, but maybeeeeeee!"  This is like catnip to a Game of Thrones fan, and, I feel, very disingenuous to boot.

More from the Northern Inuit Society:

In the show the Direwolves, Ghost, Nymeria, Grey Wind, Summer, Shaggydog and Lady were adopted by the Stark children and follow them on their trials and tribulations. The NIS provided Northern Inuits to assist with filming the pilot for Season 1 a year before it aired on TV. The NIS was ultimately given the contract to provide Northern Inuits for Season 1 due to Northern Inuits’ easy going nature and their trainability.

All the Northern Inuits used to play Direwolves in Season 1 are now happily living out their lives with their families. Sophie Turner, who plays Sansa Stark, and her family fell in love with Zunni (who played Lady) during the filming of Season 1 and with the permission of her owner and breeder adopted her after filming ended. Zunni was bred by Mahlek and prior to her acting career she had some stunning litters – whilst she is now retired from breeding and quietly enjoying life with Sophie’s family, her famous legacy will live on through her puppies, grand puppies and great-grand puppies. Sully, also bred by Mahlek, played a puppy Direwolf in the opening episodes of Season 1. Not only is he famous for playing a Direwolf but in 2014 he became an NIS Champion thanks to his performance in the show ring and winning three gold stars.

A word of warning: whilst the NIS is incredibly proud of its association with Game of Thrones and Northern Inuits have gathered a large fan base as a result, Northern Inuits are not the breed for everyone. If you are interested in owning a Northern Inuit (whether a puppy or a rescue) browse through our Website to learn more about the breed and contact NIS Breeders to discuss whether you are suited to owning a Northern Inuit.

And the Daily Mail chimed in last year with this story: 

Game of Thrones and Twilight films blamed for huge rise in number of huskies being abandoned

    Wolf-like dogs are in fashion thanks to fantasy TV show and vampire drama
    But huskies require a lot of care and record numbers are being abandoned
    There has been a 700 per cent jump in the number of huskies being ditched 

  By David Wilkes for the Daily Mail  Published: 05:24 EST, 3 September 2014

Winter is coming: 'Dire wolves' are the animal companions of the Stark family in the hit fantasy show Game Of Thrones, which features Kit Harrington as Jon Stark

With their fluffy white paws and big black eyes gazing lovingly into the camera, it’s hard to believe these  puppies are struggling to find an owner willing to take care of them.

The huskies were born in a rescue centre after their pregnant mother had been turned out onto the street.

She is one of many ‘wolf breed’ dogs abandoned recently in a spate that has been blamed on cult TV series Game of Thrones.

Adorable: Fantasy TV shows such as Game of Thrones have been blamed for a massive increase in the number of huskies being abandoned, like this litter at a Blue Cross rescue centre in Thirsk, North Yorkshire

Fans of the show, which has featured ‘direwolves’ played by Northern Inuit dogs, are thought to have rushed to buy similar breeds because of their beautiful looks – without thinking through the practicalities of owning such large, energetic pets.

The offspring of a pregnant bitch that was abandoned.

Named Taboo, Taco, Tacona, Taloola, Tasha and Taz, the six husky puppies are part of a litter of nine – seven girls and two boys. Their mother, Tala, gave birth to them six weeks ago at the Blue Cross centre in Thirsk, North Yorkshire, after being found pregnant, hungry and wandering the streets.

Hit: The popularity of the Twilight films, which features werewolves, is believed to be a factor in the rise of wolf-like dogs being abandoned by owners unable to care for the demanding animals.

The mother of these puppies was kicked out of her home while she was pregnant. Happily, offers to care for them are now flooding in

The mother was found abandoned in the Thirsk area by a warden and was taken into the centre three weeks before she gave birth to her litter.

Tala is thought to have been dumped by her owners when they realised they were about to have a whole pack of huskies to feed and look after.

Staff at the centre are looking for kind-hearted and responsible members of the public to give the puppies the homes they so desperately need.

A Blue Cross spokeswoman said: 'People don¿t realise they need to be looked after properly. They are bred as working dogs in cold countries'

Blue Cross, which cares for ill and abandoned pets, said the number of huskies and similar breeds taken to its 12 rehoming centres across the UK had increased by 700 per cent over the past five years.
Animal charity Dogs Trust has a total of 34 Alaskan Malamutes and Siberian Huskies at its 19 rehoming centres.

Lynn Barber, its head of training and behaviour, said yesterday: ‘These dogs are beautiful creatures and can make wonderful companions, but they need owners who understand the demands of this breed and are in a position to offer a lifetime commitment.’


Once more, the Northern Inuit Society wants to remind you that, "Unfortunately the NIS is aware that some unethical breeders are trying to pass off cross breeds as Northern Inuits (mostly likely from parents that are not fully health tested)"

OK, wait...  These dogs were descended from animals whose parentage was either "a mixed bag" or unknown, as a result of Inuit mating various kinds of  husky-ish dogs together to produce a superior draft dog, yet we are warned to "accept no substitutes!"  Only purebred Northern Inuit Dogs will do!

After all, the "NIS operates a strict Breeders’ Code of Ethics and all breeding dogs have to be fully health tested before being bred from."

Yup.  Really important stuff in that Code of Ethics:

5. All Members must have an active NIS Registered Affix before they can breed or stud their dog. All Affix Registrations must be applied for through the Registration Officer and Kennel Names must apply the following condition: (please read carefully)

(a). A selection of three names should be given in order of preference.

(b). The Kennel Name must be one word only, at least 4 and not more than 12 characters. Hyphens and apostrophes are not permitted.

(c). The applicant(s) cannot use his/her own surname.

(d). Full breed names cannot be used within a Kennel Name e.g. Labrador.

(e). Common place names, Registered Company and Trade Names cannot be used.

OK, OK.  there is some good stuff in there.  You're supposed to take back pups you breed if you sell them to a feckless idiot and they want to give them back.  And you have to keep your dogs in decent quarters.  I wonder how they plan to enforce that?

So I guess what this all means is the Northern Inuit Dog is a watered down version of a working husky, and that there's probably some Malamute, Siberian Husky and a couple of other things - one self-proclaimed expert say there's German Shepherd Dog in there.  So they're mutts.  But with advocates

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