|Bondie and Trevor|
In 1977 a grazier in the Armidale district had reared her to infuse Dingo blood into his working dogs. Once the litter was whelped, Blondie was to be shot. However, the grazier's wife loved Blondie, and contacted the Society, appealing for them to take her in.
Berenice agreed, and Blondie duly arrived by rail accompanied by one of her pups to help her settle in. She had a little sign on her collar saying, 'Please love me'.
She matured into a glorious adult, very trusting and well-adjusted. With kennel mate Peter Pan she led the society in many processions. However, Blondie was destined to make medical history as well.
The first sign Blondie had problems was at 10pm on the evening of June 6, 1978. Berenice heard scratching sounds coming from the kennels. All the dogs were alert and the cattle dogs were giving spasmodic questioning barks. Blondie was running around in circles desperately trying to claw at something apparently caught in her teeth.
Investigation to locate the problem revealed nothing, but her tongue was swollen and bruised. Assuming she had been bitten by an ant, and as she did not appear to be otherwise sick, she was put back into her yard. At the time she was about four weeks in pup.
By morning, Blondie's tongue was so swollen she could not close her mouth. It was obvious something drastic was wrong and she was in urgent need of immediate veterinary attention. A careful and thorough examination by Jim Della-Vedova did not reveal the trouble and in desperation, as her blood pressure was low and her breathing laboured, she was anaesthetised.
At last the reason for her sudden demise was found. A piece of aorta from beef scraps fed the evening before, had worked its way up her tongue to the root, completely cutting off circulation and causing the incredible swelling.
Removing the obstruction, Jim bathed the tongue for hours to get the circulation back.
Blondie was too weak to move. With Blondie at home for the night, Berenice continued the bathing, but the swelling did not subside. The tongue was cold and appeared "dead".
Blondie was visibly weaker when they returned to Jim next morning. Her life hung in the balance. Unfortunately, blood poisoning had set in and, to save her life, all but the rudiments of her tongue would have to be removed.
Other vets argued she could not live naturally without her tongue but Jim, who greatly admired her as a magnificent specimen of the Dingo breed and the great courage she had shown through the whole ordeal, believed she should be given the opportunity to adjust if it were at all possible.
Blondie remained with Jim for five days, being fed intravenously. After being given five litres of fluid to ensure a good start, she returned home. Could she keep herself clean? Could she learn to drink? Berenice watched over her anxiously, trying to give her support and confidence.
Next day, Blondie was observed quietly standing beside her bucket of water. She immersed her lower jaw into the water and drank with a gulping action and without problems. This was the first step towards survival.
Eating was the next step. She maintained her condition throughout her ordeal but dropped weight rapidly on returning home. She still appeared to be carrying pups.
Though her mouth was still painful, she was managing to eat a little, scattering food everywhere. Feeding her mince rolled into balls, she was able to pick them up and, throwing her head up, chew and swallow each piece.
Blondie soon became adept at her new lifestyle and quickly recovered but she lost her pups - perhaps it was just as well. Without a tongue, how could she ever have coped with a litter?
Blondie was to give Berenice yet another surprise. The following year Blondie whelped. It was assumed she could not care for her pups except to feed them and keep them warm, so Berenice was prepared to stay with her 24 hours a day to assist. She was virtually not needed.
Using her lips, Blondie cleaned and massaged her six beautiful sons. The only assistance she required on the first day was to rub each pup dry. She was a devoted mother. Her whelping box was covered with blankets with a small opening for her to come and go. Her pups were snug and warm.
Three years later Blondie continued to thrive. She was a great favourite with member, Trevor Charles, who said of her:
"Blondie is a wonderful, sweet, gentle lady. I'm sure she would be a licker if she had a tongue.
"When we first started running together, she was very cautious. She took much longer than the others to relax and enjoy her run. As with all the others, Berenice had to put their leads on in the beginning. Blondie was probably the last to let me catch her.
"Like most of the others, she didn't want to go too far from the house, I suppose partly because of her territorial habits, and because she didn't really know me. Blondie's confidence came one day when she found Napoleon's land marks and followed them. Then she didn't mind being out of sight of the house. Now she knows me, there is no problem, but I've noticed with her and several others, that they stay quite close to me if I take them into a different area.
"When I enter Blondie's yard, she either sits up, or stands on her back legs and reaches out with her paws as if to hold and kiss. Sometimes she does it so gently, you would swear she was afraid of crushing you.
"She is also a gentle runner. Somehow, she gets you going much faster than the others do but does not tire you out so much. It's a very smooth pace, gradually building up the speed. This is quite the opposite to the Kosciusko Dingoes that run more like sledge dogs, putting their shoulders and muscle into it, which is much more tiring.
"Late one afternoon when Blondie and I were returning from a run, she spotted a rabbit. She ups on her back legs and literally bounded (hopped), several times into the air to see where the rabbit was going before she finally came down on all fours again. I thought she had turned into a kangaroo, as that was just what she looked like."
Blondie was never 'just one of the Dingoes' at Merigal. There are many unique and strange stories about dingoes and one belongs to Blondie. When she arrived, a tree was planted in her yard.
During her final pregnancy, after which she died from blood poisoning, a large white dog was often seen in the thick bush nearby, just looking towards her. It was quite eerie and foreboding.
The night she was supposed to whelp, the tree was blown down and Blondie died three days later. Months later the run became the home of Jarrah, and we were astounded to see the stump of the fallen tree grow shoots. The tree continued to grow vigorously to a height of over 10 feet high.
Sometime after Blondie past away Berenice received a telephone call from, Wilma Bedford, National Coordinator of Great Pet Stories Search. Ms Bedford had seen an article in Country Style Magazine about Merigal and was hopeful Berenice would have some suitable stories to enter in the Search. With only a week to get something together, she submitted four stories including one she had written some years earlier about Blondie and her disability.
Blondie’s story was selected Joint State Winner for NSW, an honour shared with a story about a Persian Cat. Berenice considered it an honour just to be invited to participate but having her Dingo story judged a winner she was over the moon with excitement.
In addition to a certificate, her prize was a voucher for $50.00 worth of goods from Pets Paradise, so she took the opportunity to stock up on leads.