Monday 28 September 2015

For the Love of a Dingo by Berenice Walters and Pamela King

Available soon “For the Love of a Dingo” by Berenice Walters and Pamela King.

This book is a compilation of stories about three of Berenice’s dingoes, Dora, Napoleon and Snowgoose. They demonstrate the love she had for and dedication to our most falsely maligned Australian native animal.

We are taking pre-orders – no payment and no obligation, just your expression of interest. Price is $18.65 including postage within Australia. (Overseas buyers please request a price for postage)

Proceeds from the sale of the book will be put towards research costs for her biography and digitising of her manuscripts and records.

If you are interested in reserving a copy please email or leave a message on this post.

Tuesday 22 September 2015

White Settlement in Australia: Dingo and Aboriginal Parallels

I met recently with elders of the D’harawal Traditional Descendants and Knowledgeholders Council, Frances Bodkin and Gavin Andrews.

We were chatting about Berenice, who both were very close to, and I mentioned her belief that many of the attacks on sheep in the early days of white settlement were by young adult Dingoes separated from their pack because of indiscriminate slaughter.

Because the Dingo pack is like a family, young Dingoes are taught and disciplined by the older members. When these teachers are absent, particularly the alpha male and female a young Dingo can go rogue.

Gavin pointed out that it was the same with his people. White man’s diseases caused the deaths of the oldest members of the community as well as the young and the weak. With the loss of their teachers and disciplinarians the young bucks went rogue.

Another parallel was the loss of land. White settlers accused Aboriginal people of stealing crops and livestock resulting in mass slaughter and incidents like the Massacre in Appin (NSW). The white settlers had in fact taken over what was Aboriginal land, their food basket.

As settlement moved inland taking its sheep and cattle so these people took over land where Dingoes roamed resulting in the slaughter of Dingoes when they were caught attacking flocks.

In 1978 Berenice wrote a paper titled “The Australian Native Dog, The Dingo (Canis Familiaris Dingo): Moves to Develop its National Identity*. In it she asks several pertinent questions:

Why has it taken so long to stop and think; to question the wild claims of those who accuse the Dingo of such mighty feats as travelling 50 miles to kill 300 sheep, then returning to sleep it off; to state it takes a pack of domestic dogs to kill one Dingo; that Dingoes threatened the lives of settlers: Then claim the Dingo is a coward!!!!!
If the Dingo was such a rapacious killer, how come Captain Cook wasn’t met by an island of killer dogs?
 If the Dingo was capable of such feats of ferocity and stock killing, how come in 1788 when six head of cattle were lost form the first settlement, they were found some seven years later at Cowpastures near C
amden, the original six having increased to 61. (By 1801 the original herd had grown to 300 head – by 1811, known as the ‘wild cattle’, their numbers were estimated at around 4,000).

How come it was a prosperous business for bushrangers to hide stolen cattle in isolated valleys where the cattle thrived – and increased?

Those very same questions could be asked in relation to the Aboriginal people.

* I have used Berenice’s title for her paper however it should be noted that in 2015 it was confirmed that the Dingo is not a dog; it is, in fact, now its own species, Canis Dingo.

Pamela King (Ferrari)

Sunday 13 September 2015

Word of Advice to New Dingo Researchers

As part of my research for the biography of Berenice Walters, the Dingo Lady, I have been reading old dingo related material and books (1970s-1980s) to form an idea of what material Berenice had available to her. I have also been reading her own manuscripts and the opinions about the Dingo she formed at the same time.

This exercise has confirmed that while she read just about anything available, her knowledge was predominantly based on her own observations and experience.

My reading of past books and articles by so called professionals serves as a warning to anyone researching the dingo to be wary of the ‘facts’ in this early material and ensure you read more recent information before delving back.

I considered including examples of false information in this article but thought it better not to give any form of credence to the information. However I will make mention of one example in a book I have just finished. I should point out that this book was not solely about Dingoes.

It astonished me that a book written in 1969, with a second edition in 1977, then a third edition (the one I was reading) in 1984 there is no update to the information over the 15 year span. Now I can appreciate that limited research on the dingo had been undertaken in 1969 but by 1984, mostly due to Berenice Walters and other champions of the Dingo, we started to know and understand considerably more about the Dingo. 

The example in case is that this particular book stated “No one is sure at what age they mate.” I think many of us knew the answer to that by 1984. The text also seems to imply that once white man arrived they went from a diet of native wildlife to one of pure domesticated animals. The sadness of this situation is that an author continued to earn royalties from a successful publication, so successful that it was worthy (?) of three editions.  But does not take time to update information.

Okay, I’ve got that off my chest but there’s more. Having made notes while reading this particular text, and huffing and puffing and protesting loudly to an empty room, I then looked at the background information of the author. Sometimes I do things backwards. I discovered that not only was the author a grazier but the penny finally dropped and it dawned on me that most of the information about Dingoes was provided by ‘doggers’. So here we have what I can only assume was a successful publication, written by an acclaimed author that has out of date and incorrect information.

So students, to summarise this lesson on research:

  1. Make sure the information is recent and factual
  2.  Make sure the author is an authority on the subject and does not have slanted or biased opinions.

Pamela King (Ferrari)

Monday 7 September 2015

Dingo app now free to download

An app simply called ‘Dingo’ is now available for free.

This app was created prior to 2014 when the Dingo was still classified as a dog. It is only in more recent times that it has been recognised as its own species, Canis Dingo, and not a dog or a wolf sub species.

Information contained in the app was largely based on Berenice Walters’ writings and other information. Some of it may well be out of date; however, we believe that it is still an informative and positive account of the Dingo.

Subject titles include:

  • Origins
  • Characteristics
  • Appearance and types
  • Family life
  • Importance to ecology

Also included is a brief biography of Berenice Walters, the Dingo Lady

Comments and feedback are welcome and can be emailed to

For links to download the app please visit