|Cooma, Graham and puppy Mingga (Photo provided by Christine (Johnson) Anderson)|
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)|
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)|
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 ©