Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Owned by Dingoes by Christine (Johnson) Anderson

Cooma, Graham and puppy Mingga (Photo provided by Christine (Johnson) Anderson)
So, you Dingo supporters who haven’t yet been owned by an all Aussie Dog think the Dingo is ‘just another dog’.

Dingoes mostly create chaos for their human friends and tie you down more than any child.

Our household has two very strong-willed cat-like canines. One is a rare while coastal creature with sandy points on ears and dorsal area. She is fine-boned, small framed and tends towards a solitary lifestyle.

Agile, ordinary fences are no barrier. What can’t be jumped can be burrowed under. Her name is Cooma and she is three years old.

Cooma (Photo provided by Christine (Johnson) Anderson)

At three months she went AWOL. A frantic search at long last located her on top of a two-metre book-case thinking it hilarious to watch me looking for her.

At four months she negotiated obstacles to reach the garage roof from which she contemplated how to get on the neighbour’s rooftop. She also demolished trailer wires, telephone cords and windscreen wipers.

On county trips she enjoyed playing chasing with a palomino pony. When she was put on her running chain the pony often came to ‘tease’ her, cantering up and down and rearing, enticing the dingo to play. If Cooma was released the pair would race along the cliff-top with the ocean a roaring backdrop. Tired at last the mare would stop and Cooma always flopped under her belly to rest. It was when Cooma was exhausted we could ‘recapture’ her.

She chased rabbits and caught bush rats of the European kind. On these expeditions, young as she was, she refused to come back in with my other dogs, the German Shepherds. On evening walks when she ran free, hunting as she did, I deliberately closed the gates and fed the dogs. Locking her out and feeding the others made her want to come in.

Her free running gradually restricted. I had needed to observe her instinctive behaviour. Even at seven weeks she was willing to range further from me than any domestic pup I have ever known.

Cooma was friendly, totally confident and afraid of nothing until a dreadful shooting incident injured her. Since then she has been shy and sound sensitive which is a great disappointment. She sleeps in the security of her own bedroom surrounded by pictures of endangered species and during the day sits sphinx-like reclined on a bookshelf to look out the window.

Mingga, our red bitch is fostered by Graham Anderson. She was born at Merigal. Graham fell in love with the beautiful creature on a visit to the centre when the pup was only one month old.

Little Merigal Snow Mingga promptly took over the house when she arrived at seven weeks of age. She is a little less cat-like than Cooma and more robust in build, rather cattle dog sized.

Mingga (Photo provided by Christine (Johnson) Anderson)
Mingga is less inclined to climb like Cooma although she still loves to perch on the BBQ or table in the backyard. We have a fence around the clothesline for obvious reasons.

Fearless with dogs she soon began wrestling with our German Shepherds and worked her way up to second in the pack. Dingoes display rank in a way that would send a bunyip for cover. Hackles up, neck arched, tale high, they stand rigid and emit the most dreadful warning threats with lips curled well above the teeth. Often, they stand on hind legs and grasp each other with the front legs or one may put the paws on the others back and stiff-leggedly rant and rave. When faced with a strange situation both dingoes go into a stance of lowering hindquarters, tail down or tucked, front feet moving and head up but forward. They make sneezing and/or coughing sounds while tossing their head. I often wonder if the sneeze provides extra moisture to the nostrils for better scenting ability.

Mingga prefers to do her poos in one spot – under the bedroom window. Cooma favours the back lawn. Mingga has not barked but Cooma has barked almost like a domestic dog on two or three occasions. Once when the pony was enticing her to play and another time when the Shepherds were swimming and she was restrained on the leash. Both times were induced by play frustration. Both can yodel, howl, yip and yelp. Cooma is far more vocal than Mingga.

They are not alike at all. My sister on a visit from England referred to them as Dainty Di and Fergie. It fitted nicely.

Our house is fortified. All fences and gates are topped with wire at a 90o angle and the bases are guarded by concrete or steel grids. We concreted around the roots of a large Magnolia tree where the dingoes decided to build a den.

Anything new in the environment has to be investigated – with their teeth. New curtains are sprayed with Aeroguard, so are hose fittings and new furniture. Dencorub is also very handy. Dingoes love wiring like Italians like pasta. The outdoor phones are guarded by mouse traps. Mingga loves carpet and has dug a hole in the bedroom carpet. The curtains in the dingo room have canine alterations to them, so they can see out better. All our Christmas gifts were opened and at Easter all that was found was silver foil. Both enjoy the odd cuppa. Cooma particularly enjoys a night-cap. Recently Graham made himself an evening cuppa, drank it and headed for the shower. Cooma, decidedly put out by the fact Graham had not made a cup for her proceeded to open the cupboard, take out two tea bags from the packet and place them on the floor. Needless to say, she got her cuppa.
Mingga (Photo provided by Christine (Johnson) Anderson)
As required by law, both Mingga and Cooma are desexed. Mingga’s desexing was an historical event. Dr Graeme Wills placed her ovaries in a saline solution and they were rushed to Sydney University then onto a hospital for freezing then back to the University. Hopefully at some future time it will be possible to created ‘test tube’ dingoes. Placing the embryo into a bitch of any breed and ‘bingo-a-dingo’

Both Graham and I love our pets. Although very independent and unreliable off lead, they are intelligent, loving and very endearing. They own you totally and look to you if they are afraid or ill.  They are lithe, move fluidly and when their golden eyes meet yours you feel a strange, almost mystical power of theirs. You understand an almost spiritual bond between you. It makes you feel very special that a wild spirit loves and trusts you. Dingoes need very special homes. They can be very expensive due to their destructive ways and fencing needs. They are demanding and time consuming but for anyone who has been mesmerised by a dingo and loves it, they will be rewarded for their efforts. I hope while the dingo becomes more accepted as a true blue they are forever protected from exploitation or becoming fashionable pets.

I hope in remote areas future generations of Australians will hear the dingo howling or catch a glimpse of their graceful form, flitting like a spirit through the bush.

Christine (Johnson) Anderson ©

Tuesday, 11 September 2018

For the Love of a Dingo - Revised Edition now available

Now available – the revised edition of For the Love of a Dingo.

I was very disappointed with the proofing of the original publication of this book, so I have corrected errors and published a revised edition.

I can make it available to Australian buyers for $14.00 (including postage) via my website www.pam.id.au

The eBook is available through Amazon and other resellers as is the print edition for overseas buyers.

Tuesday, 4 September 2018

We are Dingo a True Species

To the Anangu people living in the area around Uluru, the dingo is known as Papa!

Our species is trapped, poisoned, hunted, shot and remains persecuted in our own country. This is due to human ignorance and greed for profit - the humans have stolen our land, our homes, built a massive fence through half our country to keep us out of an area good for food. Humans wrongly think we are interested in their livestock, but this is not true. In fact, we prefer our own native food. Sadly, many humans are eradicating our native wildlife too and have also introduced species dangerous to our native wildlife. The humans call these "feral" animals.

Sadly, due to ignorance many humans believe we are "feral", vermin and a pest. All this is due to human irresponsibility and ignorance. We would like to see all this change. We would like to see our species protected. We would like to see humans change their attitude towards us and see how important we are in our country - we could even help the humans eradicate some of the nuisance feral species they introduced to our home. If only they would let us!!

We would like you all to say a word on our behalf so you, like others, can understand us; once you know more about us we are sure you will join the other humans who see us for what we are - a species wrongly maligned and persecuted through lack of understanding.

Tuesday, 28 August 2018

Dingoes Win Best in Show at Sydney Royal

From the 1970s Berenice persisted in requesting permission from the Royal Agricultural Society (RAS) to have dingo photographs displayed in the Dog Pavilion at the Sydney Royal Easter Show. The request in 1979 received the usual indignant and curt response refusing permission on the basis the dingo was vermin!

That same year, same show, Berenice’s young son, Ken entered two photos in the (RAS) Youth Photography Competition. 

His subject was a young Aboriginal woman with Merigal Dingo, Snowgoose; one titled Dingo, Dog of Our People, the other Dreaming. Both were accepted and displayed. Dingo, Dog of Our People happened to be the same photo they refused Berenice permission to display. Out of over 400 entries only 120 were selected to be displayed. The RAS had inadvertently displayed a dingo photo.

Berenice was delighted that in an unexpected and roundabout way two dingo photos graced the hallowed grounds of the RAS showground.

Berenice continued to pester the RAS with no success until 1994 when society member, Christine (Johnson) Anderson, finally cajoled enough RAS members to permit real live dingoes to be on display.

This provided the society an opportunity for the first time to show dingoes in their true light to both rural and city communities.

Christine took her two dingoes, Mingga and Cooma and set up a display drawing plenty of attention with Mingga and Cooma winning everyone hearts.

The presentation was on the final day of dog judging, when Breed Clubs were invited to attend with information and promotional stalls.

It was a major break-through for the society and the RAS were assured only Dingoes with permits would be on display.

The display attracted considerable interest from the public and dingo literature ran out by mid-afternoon.

At the stand members were inundated with general questions about dingoes, Cooma and Mingga in particular, and where more Dingoes could be seen. Many visitors were surprised to learn dingoes were living at Bargo, even a former Bargo resident. Some of the questions asked were 'How can I own a Dingo'? 'Can we breed Dingoes'? 'Why are Dingoes not allowed at more shows'? Most people were glad to see our Dingoes and a lot of genuine sympathy was generated for them.

We were invited back the following year, this time with AussieHost and three other dingoes taking turns to meet the public.

As usual Hostie, along with her fellow PR dingoes, was her calm friendly self and greeted children enthusiastically.

Again, our dingoes and display attracted considerable attention. The highlight was the announcement the society had won best display! Another first for the Merigal Dingoes – a win at an agricultural show and the Sydney Royal no less.

Tuesday, 21 August 2018

The Return of Li’l Jo

Li’l Jo was one the most agile and cat-like Dingoes. She was highly intelligent yet readily trainable. She was one of Merigal’s most highly regarded females but very shy with strangers, possibly due to a shy mother, and insufficient socialising as a pup.

Society secretary, Malcolm Tellesson, offered to take her into his home at Five Dock, following the death of his pup in a car accident, and she seemed to settle in quite well. 

However, she was just waiting for an opportunity to escape, and when a second gate was accidentally left unlatched she did just that. She was seen dashing across a busy Lyons Road, Five Dock struggling over two fences in absolute panic, then she disappeared.

They knew she couldn’t be too far away, but there were a multitude of places where she could have hidden in the densely populated area. She could have hidden under a house, in the maze of storm water pipes, in the bushes of a nearby park or golf course - virtually anywhere. Berenice sensed Li’l Jo would survive; her fear of people forcing her to constantly hide. She must have been terrified. Torrential rain fell for three days after her escape, and during this time there was only one possible 3am sighting by a neighbour. Berenice and other members desperately searched the area for days. Leaflets were handed out to neighbours, every house-yard was examined, and radio stations who normally refused to advertise lost dogs, carried an appeal to thousands of listeners. For weeks regular advertisements appeared in newspapers, Councils were notified, and pounds searched. The response was tremendous but there was no sign of Li’l Jo. Although food was left out at various points near where she disappeared, none was ever touched. The only clue found was a long scratch mark on the roof of a shed where she had walked along a fence and tried to jump onto the roof but slithered to the ground. It had to be accepted she could have drowned had she hidden in the storm water pipes, but somehow, Berenice still believed she would eventually be found.

Malcolm dragged a leg of lamb around the district in the hope she would follow the trail back to his house.

Then Berenice had a brainwave. There was a park with thick bushes of lantana on the shores of the bay in the direction she had run. She wondered if they played tapes of the Dingoes howling in the dead of night, it may trigger a response from their lost friend. Firstly, they explained the proposal to the local police who patiently, and avidly, listened - but passed no comment. They must have thought it was a hoax, and in some way,  they could end up the "bunnies".

At around 1am, Malcolm and Berenice, armed with a tape recorder, drove to the park. It was very quiet and isolated, but a couple were enjoying the silence. As they intended to break the peace with an ear shattering burst of dingo howling, they prudently explained their intentions. Malcolm approached the pair, who no doubt must have felt a little dubious about being approached by a stranger in this lonely place. As they came together, they appeared to fall into earnest conversation for a few moments, then Malcolm returned. The couple left in a hurry, no doubt relieved they had escaped without more than a fright. Malcolm looked puzzled. He said he did not think they believed him when he said he was looking for a lost dingo and was going to play a tape of Dingoes howling.

The thunderous sounds of the Merigal Mob howling seemed to burst upon the silence of the bush. The reaction was immediate and incredulous. Dogs all around started to bark furiously. The whole area was immediately lit up as hundreds of lights flashed on and startled householders emerged from their homes. Some peered over fences trying to see what was going on in the park, yelling for silence. Stunned at the instant activity Berenice and Malcolm collapsed in a heap laughing while the shrill howling went on and on. If Li’l Jo was in the area, she most certainly would have bolted for cover. Sadly, there was still no sight or sound of Li’l Jo.

Four months later, Malcolm received a telephone call from the Council advising him that a "cross-shepherd" bitch wearing a collar with his Council tag had been picked up in Auburn, an adjoining suburb, and she was being held at the RSPCA Shelter at Yagoona. She also had five young pups. Could this be the long lost Dingo? With her deep chestnut colouring and black muzzle, she could easily be mistaken for a shepherd cross. Certainly, no one would expect it to be a Dingo.

A frenzied phone call to the RSPCA next morning requesting her left ear be examined for an ear tattoo 039 resulted in confirmation this was Li’l Jo. Within two hours Berenice and Malcolm were with her. She was unrecognisable. Her eyes and black face were distorted with mange; through stress she lay in a trance-like state. Berenice quietly stroked her and talked to her and eventually a glimmer of recognition showed in her eyes, then she tried to lift her head. The vet advised she had blood dysentery, was very weak, and only gave her a 40-60 chance of survival. However, by the time they were ready to leave with their very sick Dingo, she had brightened up considerably and the vet thought they would have a 50-50 chance of saving her.

On the way back to Bargo they stopped off at Camden for society vet Jim Della-Vedova to examine her. He considered the dysentery to be caused through stress and once she got home she would improve.

Turning into Merigal’s gateway, her ears pricked as she heard the welcome howls from the Dingoes, but she showed the first real sign of emotion when Berenice gently lifted her from the car and she saw Flowers, one of her dingo mates, coming towards her. Standing in submission, tail slowly wagging, she sank to the ground in utter exhaustion like an old, old dog. She was only two years old.

Li’l Jo recovered from the virus causing the dysentery, the rash slowly healed, but she and was scarred for life through the horrors endured while lost. By her general condition she had not starved, and she soon demonstrated just how skilled she had become in acquiring food. One of the most astonishing skills acquired while lost was the speed she could up-end a garbage bin and dive to the bottom of it. Every night she enacted the way she had survived. In the early hours, despite regularly feeding, she would do the rounds, rattling buckets and fossicking about, a way of life that had allowed her to survive.

She was forgiven for stealing food from the kitchen. Berenice understood why she would not sleep in the laundry until everyone had gone to bed and was always out in the yard when they got up. They wondered whose verandahs or laundries she slept in during her enforced stay in Sydney.

Li’l Jo was a powerful runner. She and Julie romped together in a frenzy of excitement providing there were no strangers about. She would race through the long grass by a series of energetic bounds like a kangaroo.

They believed Li’l Jo went to heaven when she died, because she had already been through hell.