Tuesday, 11 June 2019

From Cattle Dog Kennels to Dingo Enclosures

Wooleston, Berenice and Bern Walters Cattle Dog kennels was the most famous in Australia but Berenice’s love for dingoes saw their property transformed over 40 years.

Wooleston Australian Cattle Dog Kennel
The kennels in the early days of the dingoes

Over the years Berenice and an enthusiastic team of volunteers gradually transformed the property into a haven of native plants. The sanctuary won many awards in the loval garden competition.

 The runs are now more suitable for dingoes. They are larger runs with dingo proof fencing. 
Names of the dingoes and their sponsors are shown for the information of visitors
A new entrance is built
By 1998 the grounds were relaxing and peaceful. Although Berenice was suffering the later stages of Motor Neurone Disease she delighted in the spending time in the gardens with the dingoes she loved.

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Tuesday, 4 June 2019

A Dingo’s View of City Life

Adapted from a Merigal magazine article from 1980

Like many of my kind I was born a Dingo, brought to the city for many reasons some for zoos, sometimes just to make a quick buck, and many other reasons which we won’t go into. My boss got me when I was six months old and I was told I had to forget my wayward past and learn obedience and discipline to receive the 'order of freedom' from the Government.

So my first real test was four weeks holiday in a place called Gladstone, some 940 miles away. I was told to get into the back seat of the car, which I did without question; my first lesson. I managed to stick it out till we got to Tamworth, our first fill up for petrol. Tamworth is a place I want to forget as for the first time I found my true identity. 

While lying asleep I heard the garage chaps voice sing out, "Christ, look at this, a bloody Dingo”.

Funny how travel teaches one many things, including ‘identity’. We made Gladstone in 32 hours, a day before we were expected and had to stay over-night in a Flag Motel where I learned my second lesson. Being a Bloody Dingo, I cased the place in no time - lovely view, TV, toilet, air conditioning, carpets on the floor. One thing, only 2 beds. One for master and one for son, John. This was a bit hard to take. Where do I go?

“The balcony is your spot”, I was told. “Lovely breeze off the harbour”. What a Dingo in training has to put up with; hope; I can finish the course. Being me, I looked over my balcony and to my horror saw three domestic dogs eating out of a dirt tin; disgusting, why can’t they learn to do a course like me, tough as it is.

It upset me so much I couldn’t sleep out there thinking of those poor animals, so I went inside and slept on the carpet. Next morning, I was awakened by a knock on the door. Can’t a poor animal get ANY sleep? Little did I know we have room service - eggs, bacon, toast, tea, weet bix, and pineapple juice. Boy, I'll be in this, I thought to myself, only to find out mine consisted of weet bix and milk, two rounds of toast and the left overs. This course is tougher than I thought.

10 am we left for our final destination, a house five minutes from the bitch. I pricked up my ears and thought, this is where my training goes by the board, only to find out it wasn’t a female dingo (bitch), but a beach! What a let down.

The following day I was taken to the beach; while my master and son swam, I had a good look around to see if there were any of my nob around. No such luck, only mongrel dogs all having a good time, so it wasn’t long before I found a few mates. So, a little bit of good advice to Dingoes; if you want to enjoy yourselves, learn mix even if it means coming down a peg socially. I am grateful I have been taught properly and learned to mix as my daily routine was up at 8am, swim and run the length of the beach, home for breakfast, then to bed - and I must have my pillow. Life wasn't meant to be easy but being me, I accept the good with the bad.

I often think of those poor domestic dogs roaming the streets and finishing up in a dogs’ home. I've decided to stick by my Boss. I've got a beautiful yard, and the best of everything. I will keep in touch with my fellow dingoes and relate from time to time how I get on, and pass on hints to future owners of how a bloody Dingo should be trained.

PS I goofed my first day back from Gladstone as I got in next door and killed two guinea pigs. Is this what is meant by you can't make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear? Lucky for me my boss doesn’t expect the impossible. But one thing I have learned he loves me, and I love him.

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Tuesday, 30 April 2019

Dingo in need of help: Extract from the future biography of Berenice Walters

In 1976 the dingo had even less rights than today. The opinion of the lawmakers was it should not exist and if it did it should be exterminated. In late 1976 the case of a little dog picked up as a stray was brought to her attention. The following is an extract from Berenice Walters’ biography I am currently writing. ***

It is strange but true a stray dog can be hanging around the local Post Office, ignored by all; or it could, be happily playing with the school children at the local school. As a stray it is rightly picked up by the dog catcher. But it is just a lost dog. Label that friendly, lost animal a “Dingo" and it immediately assumes the proportions of a rabid wolf to the general public. 

Berenice received a call about a dog picked up in the Fairfield area. The dog-catcher had labelled it a Dingo. The next morning, she received an urgent call to saying an order had come from the Chief Secretary's Office to stop the release of the dog. It was to be destroyed without further question because it was a noxious animal.

At the time there was no way to prove 100% a dog resembling a Dingo was truly a Dingo. The same animal in black and tan resembling a Kelpie was labelled a Kelpie.

Berenice was filled with sadness to see the tiny, yellow, male dog. He was just a dog along with the dozens of other dogs penned; a nice clean, friendly fellow. He could just as easily been described as a cross Basenji. Why could he not have been treated the same as his kennel mates. He was just a dog, possibly a child’s much-loved pet. 

She considered the whole affair nothing less than a witch hunt. Pushing aside her concern about embarrassment she might cause Fairfield Council or the Chief Secretary's Department by showing interest in the dog, she saw it as an excellent opportunity to demonstrate the unfairness of the law.

If there was any hint a dog may have Dingo blood it had no rights and was to be put down immediately. The Council, and the Chief Secretary's Department did the only thing they could as the law stood. She thought it wry there were other dogs with Dingo blood in their veins, but they were not Dingo in colour and they were considered perfectly respectable. They were Australian Cattle Dogs.

The dog should have been treated like any other lost dog. If his owner claimed him then he should have the right to be released. No way should he be given special treatment and no way should he be released to a wildlife park. He was unsound and a poor sample whatever his breed. She hoped if he was claimed he would be dealt with as an unclaimed stray, not as a noxious animal.

The case gave her an opportunity to show the general public how the law had been twisted to annihilate a part of our National Heritage. It was another native animal condemned because of the whim of a minority of the population with no consideration for the future. Again, archaic laws were shown to be unjust. Laws brought about by superstitions and fears from the Middle Ages; fears of the unknown, the wild dog. 

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