Tuesday 14 March 2017
On Dingo Behaviour by Berenice Walters Part 1
Berenice was eventually acknowledged as an expert on dingoes. She was not a scientist in fact, had no formal qualifications; much like many of the people whose knowledge on dingoes I respect today.
Her knowledge came from observation of her dingoes at the Merigal Dingo Sanctuary, Bargo, NSW.
From time to time I intend to post some of her observations, many of which have been confirmed in more recent times.
Berenice wrote the following in the early 1990s
I was recently informed that some Dingoes in captivity were already coming in season outside the normal breeding season, the time of declining light. Well, in the 24 years I have been with Dingoes, with documentation covering hundreds of individuals, only one, a hybrid, had an out of season heat, in November, and that was very short and a one off occasion. I just wonder how many of these so-called Dingoes are really Dingoes! From my experience, they are probably hybrids as some zoo bred animals have proven to be. This is very sad for the breed.
Unfortunately, we also have case histories of genetic diseases such as hip dysplasia (we have been X Raying for this deformity since 1978), monorchids, over and undershot jaws, valgus deformity of the paster, the latter two found in wild bred stock. In the wild, dingoes with such deformities would be unlikely to breed, even survive, nature being such a stringent culler, but in the hands of ignorant or unscrupulous breeders and a very limited gene pool, our magnificent native dog could become a derelict of its former self.
Being a woman in a man's world of dogs, I have been rubbished by the best but have managed to carry on regardless fuelled by my obsession with Dingoes. I have never seen a Dingo in the wild - I have seen coyotes and skunks, and bear and wolf tracks in the United States. However, the behaviour attributed to the Dingo in the wild is frequently enacted in captivity.
For instance, when I let the Dingoes out of a morning, they rush to carefully check out their territory boundary, to very slowly and methodically check the fence line for any intruders. If I've returned home with a house Dingo, particularly a male, he will excitedly rush to get back into the yard to first check fence line, particularly gateways, then every item in the house. The scenting ability of our native dog never ceases to amaze me. There have been many instances of dogs bred at Merigal picking out mail after it has been several days in the post and coming in contact with thousands of other articles.
By contrast, Cattle dogs released into their day runs exuberantly run up and down fences, barking and generally having a ball and with no thought of survival tactics such as searching for evidence of intruders.