Popular games for boys in Ilulissat revolved around hunting. In Knud Rasmussen's time, as it had been for centuries, survival in Greenland depended upon the hunting of wild animals: musk oxen in the north and east; caribou on the patches of plains; seals and other marine animals on the coast; and fish and millions of birds on their seasonal migrations. As the boys grew bigger, their harpoons, bows and spears likewise grew larger. This was also true of their sleds and the dogs needed to pull them. As a boy, Rasmussen enlisted his playmates to be his "sled dogs," and later in life he recalled his experiences with his imaginary dogs.
"The first dog I had," he wrote, "was two-legged, because before my father entrusted me to run with real dogs, I had a whole team, which consisted of my Greenland playmates ... In the morning, when I came out, they flocked around me, and their zeal was great because my good mother always gave me delicious dog food. It was rye bread and ship's biscuits or figs and prunes, a diet that these Eskimo boys never had at home! After feeding, they were excited for real belts and harnesses. I had a really long dog whip. But when my first dog was my own playmate, I of course never used a whip, and that is perhaps why I never ever later in my life was really comfortable using a long dog whip. Dogs should not pull out of fear, but out of desire."