Friday, 12 February 2021

Cattle Dogs and Dingoes Around the House

In the 1970s when keeping a dingo was illegal, the yellow dogs running around Berenice’s yard were simply referred to as “just dogs” or “Kelpie crosses”.

Berenice was always amused watching visitors approaching. Visitors always checked, heads swivelling, for the Cattle Dogs. After making sure there were no Cattle Dogs loose, they would confidently enter the yard where the Dingoes would happily escort them to the house.

One very hot day summer day, she was vigorously vacuuming wearing only a minimum of underwear, when there was a knock on the nearby screen door.  She nearly fainted.  Embarrassed, the postie was standing there.  “I have a registered parcel for you and as there were no blue dogs about I came in.  These yellow dogs are so friendly”.  It would have been her turn to faint if Berenice had informed her those yellow dogs were Dingoes.


Berenice loved having two or three dogs around the house.  However, she was were never able to keep Cattle Dogs as house dogs once they reached maturity - someone always got bitten (heeled) - not badly admittedly, but a frightening experience for any visitor.  

By contrast, she ran Dingoes as house dogs for over twenty five years without a single incident.  They were, of course, selective.  

Although Snowdrift was reared at Healesville Sanctuary and constantly handled by the public, he became very protective of Berenice and her home.  

Showing signs he could take matters into his own paws in the future if she was not present to officiate, he reluctantly became a resident of an enclosure adjoining the house where he did a fine job of letting her know when a stranger arrived.  

He was the one male who could be aggressive to people, particularly in the breeding season, and one who would tolerate only a limited number of people.  Once trust is broken he was unforgiving. He remained very much Berenice’s ‘baby’ and recognised her as his ‘alpha’. His eyes were always full of love for her and always wants to curl up on her lap as he did as a pup.

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