Monday 6 April 2015

Dora the Yellow Dingo

I believe this is one of the most touching pieces Berenice Walters, the Dingo Lady ever wrote. It is about her first Dingo, Dora. 

Berenice got Dora ‘no questions asked’ straight from the wild in 1974, a time when Dingoes were considered noxious pests and vermin; to be killed on sight. Berenice narrowly dodged being gaoled and Dora destroyed such was the law at the time.

Dora the Yellow Dingo

She was a wild bush baby. One day she would mature into a glorious  adult of yellow gold.

Australia's national flower is the golden Wattle; Australia's national colours are gold and green, Australia's Native Dog is the golden Dingo.

But who among us are even aware of this proud and noble animal.

As she looks out into these strange surroundings, fear dilates her eyes; rotate, her large nostrils twitch, as she nervously licks her lips. Furtively she cranes her neck to seek a welcome dark corner into which she could quickly melt.

Straight from the wild to a world full of humans; humans that she had known from birth to fear and distrust.
Her human held her close, tears spilling down her cheeks and splashing onto the yellow-grey fur, tears of compassion for this small animal and for all her breed; tears of humiliation and shame for the atrocities and hate metered out to the wild dogs of the world; for the lack of knowledge and blind legendary fear of this beautiful animal.

How strange that the dog, so often claimed to be man’s best friend could also be so feared, so hated and distrusted; so misunderstood, condemned without fair trial.

Could she ever forget her fears? To what degree could she be domesticated? What hope was there for her and for her future offspring?

What could domesticity offer this proud and independent daughter of the bush?

Finding a suitable name, one that would help promote a new and better image for her breed became one of the first and most important tasks. Diana, Ding Dong; Delilah, Catherine, Elizabeth, Margaret. Nothing seemed right.

Then "Dora", (straight from Dickens’s 'David Copperfield’) suggested human No. 1.

“Dora” said human No.2. "That's a good old Australian name". He had the Dora Dora blacks in mind.

So Dora it was.

Dora had come into the world conditioned for life in the wild. No fears had she for the birds, the animals, the rivers, the trees, the day or the night. Only man so filled her wild little heart with such over-whelming fear; would never fully trust him? Man with his domination, his strong voice, dark clothes, man smell. Woman with her softer voice and smell would have a better chance of penetrating this shield of fear, but Dora would never become a doting pet, slavish in her devotion.

She would accept perhaps one, as her possible equal, be domesticated by one who may be lucky enough to gain her confidence.

For that person there would be a delightful friendship, a unique love and understanding; yet always a challenge.       Those who have attained this sublime state with the wild dog all agree no relationship with any other dog is as exhilarating, or as rewarding.

Within days our delightful Dingo pup had settled in well. She watched with growing interest the daily routine of training, feeding, cleaning and brushing. She watched her mates, carefully copying their way of life. Her mouth opened and shut like theirs did when barking, but no sound came forth. It would be many moons before she would bark. Like all wild dogs she is virtually bark less, barking only in the true biological sense, defence of the lair, or when over excited. In the wild to be noisy could cost the lives of all.

Each morning she had a collar and lead put on and taken for a walk. When some training was begun she growled loud and clear. When made to sit she collapsed in a heap. After more than two minutes heeling she reluctantly hung back.

Finally she accepted the woman as Boss; one way or another she had to be obeyed. With the resignation of her breed she accepted this. She dropped to the ground in submission.

Although Dora came to accept the family, all strangers were treated with utmost suspicion.           

At the sight, sound or smell of a stranger she behaved like a wild animal, hiding, peering anxiously out, nose quivering, head weaving from side to side endeavouring to catch a familiar scant, snorting and licking her lips, occasionally barking in a gruff “woof, woof”.

In the car her head would weave from side to side taking in the myriads of scents. Before long she would know when we were nearing home some 10 odd miles away. She would suddenly tense as a recognised smell would bring her to her feet. 

Surely this highly developed sense could be put to work for the good of man in the course of police, army or customs work.

At six months of age beautiful Dora was an adult.            Her bright yellow­ gold coat mirrored the sun. She moved with the grace and agility of a cat, she could turn and twist like a whip. She played always gently, was never aggressive. Obedience training classes helped her to accept strangers and their dogs. With cattle she herded and worked with the skill of the Border Collie, patiently but forcefully maintaining control.

Being an intelligent and curious animal trouble would have to come in some form.

What better than a bantam that dared to fly into the dog enclosure. Dora had treated the fowls with utter contempt as they flirted with death busily engaged in feeding about six inches from the fence. The Cattle Dogs flew at the fence, hurled themselves bodily at those chooks - who did not even raise their heads. Dora completely ignored the performance.

However, when one flew into the yard she was ready. Instinctively she herded it into a corner and dived in to grab.      
Unfortunately for her at the same time as her mate Juicy (a Cattle Dog) came thundering in from behind sending her sprawling. Leaping to her feet she took off at top speed with the terrified bird in her mouth followed by a pounding Cattle Dog and the boss bringing up the rear yelling.

The bird was returned unhurt to the flock, unmarked but minus its tail feathers which were hanging ludicrously from Dora's mouth giving her the expression of a much surprised and bewildered professor.

If we could gaze into the future, we would see Dora, desperate for her own kind, searching for a Dingo mate; deprived of her own kind frantically trying to attract a male of the domestic breeds who under normal circumstances would ignore her plaintive love.

There would be magic in the air, time would stand still, if a Dingo should be brought to her at this time. They both would know; be it their scent, or appearance, they would know they were two of a kind.  Their whirling bodies entwined, clinging together in perfect love and harmony, their affection and love complete in a devotion that has no equal, and they would find paradise.

Looking further into the future we would see her sharing her bosses' bedroom, giving birth to four beautiful mahogany brown, velvety pups, caring for them with infinite devotion; we would see her Dingo mate visiting them, the magic of their rapture at being together again electrifying the air. She will pine for him when he leaves.

“Why has he left me", her grief stricken eyes would ask.

That night she will be restless, her puppies cry. No one will get much sleep.

What could the future hold for these pups born of domesticated parents into the world of man?

Could they lead the way to a better understanding of this much maligned breed? Conditioned at birth, carefully reared and trained, could their talents be used for the betterment of man. Could they?

Oh, yellow dog, I pray for you and for your entire breed.

Dora’s full story is available through the website The story of her son, Napoleon will soon be released also.

Thursday 2 April 2015

Dingo poster plan misfires

We love this clipping in Berenice’s records from the Western Australian newspaper, Daily News, from 18th July 1983 titled DINGO POSTER PLAN MISFIRES by Rebecca le Tourncau

A campaign to educate school children about the dingo problem has back fired.

Recently the Agriculture Protection Board held a competition asking children from metropolitan schools to create posters out lining the problem.

"But the response we got was overwhelmingly in support of the dingo, “said the board's extensions officer Mr Von Chantler.

We thought we got the message across to the children that dingo control is necessary. But the poster response shows us that a lot more work is needed."

The winning poster was created by Nina Alitalo (12)  of  Coolbinia Primary.

Nina painted a farmer standing over a dingo. He was brandishing an axe dripping with blood.

The accompanying slogan read-"Dingoes aren't always to blame. THINK! your dog may have killed the game."

Other  posters which gained consolation or class prizes said "Stop dingoes being exterminated" and "Dingoes - friend foe? Ask a Sheep.

The West Australian of the same date also printed the story under the headline DINGOES FIND CHAMPIONS adding: The dingo – long branded a sheep killer - has found champions in many of the schoolchildren who took part in an Agriculture Protection Board poster competition.

Some of the 900 entrants from 35 Perth metropolitan area primary schools submitted posters sympathetic to what one student called a unique Australian.