Sunday 18 December 2016

Christmas Message from the Dingo Lady Project.

As Christmas approaches let us think about what the year has been for the Dingo and those who have continued to fight for understanding, freedom and protection of these beautiful Australian icons and saviours of the environment.

Have there been some successes? I believe there has. More and more scientists and academics, even farmers, are supporting the Dingo’s right to live free of intolerance, mistreatment and cruelty. The general public is gaining more knowledge and understanding. They are realising malicious stories from the past about the dingo are based on ignorance and greed.

Is there still more to do on behalf of the Dingo? Most definitely! Pressure still needs to be brought on governments to have the dingo protected nationally. Laws need to be changed to stop cruel methods of controlling dingoes and other wild dogs. The uneducated and unthinking need to be taught the Dingo is a wonderful, sensitive creature that has a right to exist unmolested in its environment.

As 2017 approaches and we make our new year wishes and resolutions let us focus on we can do as individuals to help save the Dingo from extinction and cruelty. Organisations dedicated to preserving and protecting the dingo need our support. Lobbying governments and signing petitions needs to continue, indeed stepped up.

My personal Christmas wish for dingoes everywhere, in the wild, in sanctuaries and living in a domestic situation, is that we, as dingo advocates, can forget personal agendas and differences and come together as once force. It is only through unity that we will ultimately succeed.

May you and yours have a wonderful Christmas and fantastic New Year. If you have dingo kids in your house give them all a big hug from the dingo Lady Project.

Tuesday 13 December 2016

Dingo Ownership in NSW

Honorary Vet, Jim Della-Vedova ear tattoos the newest litter with Berenice's help

There has been considerable publicity recently about a Sydney based dingo rescue organisation and the number of dingoes it has rescued and placed in Sydney homes.

The story has caused an uproar among the dingo advocate fraternity and rightly so.  Dingoes CAN become a part of the family and can make wonderful pets. They are loyal and devoted to their family seeing them as part of the pack but it must be clear that at least one of the humans is the alpha.

BUT BUT BUT they are NOT for everyone. Without complete love, commitment, devotion and understanding they will try to escape, destroy property and be extremely wilful without appropriate learning of what is expected of them. 

Ever since Berenice Walters first founded the Australian Native Dog Conservation Society (ANDCS) one of their main goals was to see a permit scheme introduced for the keeping of dingoes in a domestic situation.

At no time did Berenice or the Society want the dingo to become treated as any other domestic dog and always emphasised owning a dingo was very different to any breed of domestic dog.

The battle to have the permit scheme introduced went on for many years. The Society’s honorary vet, Jim Della-Vedova began ear tattooing all the Merigal dingoes as a means of identification and in preparation for the anticipated registration system expected to be part of the permit scheme. (Ear tattooing was the method used prior to the introduction of microchipping)

By October 1990 desexed dingoes could be kept as domestic pets in NSW with the approval of the Minister for Agriculture or if a person was a member of the ANDCS an entire dingo could be kept providing the person met the conditions set by the Society.

This information was included in Berenice’s second book, Dingo: Getting a Good Dog a Better Name. (See below)

In 1998 the Rural Lands Protection Act was amended. In the parliamentary debate it was stated: It has been decided that the definition of wild dog will no longer include the dingo, if it is held in captivity. This means that the pest control provisions will only relate to the dingo if it is living in the wild. Dingoes that are domestic pets will be subject to the Companion Animals Act 1998.

From this moment there was no control on dingoes living in a domestic situation nor were there any special requirements for keeping a dingo. They were simply treated as just another companion animal.

This action greatly disappointed Berenice and the ANDCS members and achieved nothing for the wild dingo.

Berenice predicted that this action by the NSW Government would open the flood gates to back yard breeding of dingoes and a huge growth in unwanted dingoes due to owners who were unprepared for the commitment.

Sadly, she was right.

Tuesday 6 December 2016

Berenice’s Love for Napoleon

Napoleon. Photo by Michael Trafford

Dora was Berenice Walters’ first dingo, captured in the wild and presented to Berenice as a terrified furry bundle. Although Dora was kept illegally at the time, Berenice loved, cared for and trained her young dingo.

Napoleon was Dora’s son and quite possibly Berenice’s greatest love. Through observation and sharing her life with dingoes she began to dispel myths and educate the public on the truth about the dingo. Her Tribute to Napoleon following his passing not only demonstrates her immense love but great insight into living with a Dingo as well as their personality and traits.

When Napoleon passed away Berenice wrote:
We called him Napoleon and looking across the room now I can still see him sitting in 'his' chair.   It was his for the term of his life with us and universally recognised as Napoleon's chair.  If I cast my eyes around the room, I can see the place where he died as I hysterically tried to revive him, pleading with him to live.

How I cherished that dog.  Our house was his 'kennel' and he was always an important family member.  He had his diplomatic and carefully worked out method of ensuring visitors respected his position.

That did not mean he did not misbehave when not under surveillance.  Oh no.  How many plants he dug up and presented to us as if he thought we had lost them - how many sets of leather back key rings were chewed up along with elastic sided leather boots and shoes, how many birds and stray cats he killed, hens when he got amongst them, we lost count.  But these misdemeanours did not diminish my love and respect for him.

On the 19th January, 1985 the Committee Meeting of the ANDTS adjourned for 5 minutes to pay tribute to Napoleon who had died suddenly on the 16th January, 1985.

This was Berenice’s tribute:

In his lifetime, Napoleon set a beautiful example to which we could all well pledge our lives. He was love, kindness and charity personified. The weaknesses and imperfections of humans were not a part of his ethereal being.  His goodness far outweighed the many problems his keeping entailed.

Napoleon was always very fair. He bore no grudges or nastiness, and was at all times anxious to respond happily with appreciation to any little kindness or affection shown to him, irrespective of any hurt he may have received, or stresses endured. He was quiet and unobtrusive, but when stressed through family upsets, reacted in the only way he knew by redirecting attention to himself by asking for his 'cup of tea'.

For 9½  years my family's whole existence was centred round the needs of Napoleon, both physically and mentally, but he was always there to be loved, and to love, to comfort us when in need, to share our happiness’s, to welcome us joyfully home, and to share our troubles by being close.

Those he accepted and loved were blessed with an indescribable feeling of wonder that this unworldly being should so honour them.  If he did not like or trust anyone, he fear­ fully retreated to our bedroom - he just kept out of the way.

All Napoleon asked in return was to be respected and loved as a close family member.  His goodness and nobility affected all who knew him, and he was loved.

I often wondered why I was chosen to be the soul partner in such a beautiful relationship. The joys of the last nine years are indescribable, as is the sorrow and loneliness I now feel at his loss.

But the spirit of Napoleon will live on, to inspire all who were privileged to know him to strive for a better understanding and fairer deal for all his kind.

Napoleon had one great gift, LOVE, and he gave this freely to Bern and I 24 hours a day, to our family, and to children in particular, everywhere.

No greater gift can any being give.

Dora and Napoleon’s stories, along with Snowgoose, are told in the book For the Love of a Dingo, in both print and eBook editions. Visit for purchase information.

Tuesday 29 November 2016

The Truth about Dingoes: 2

Most female dingoes become sexually mature at two years but can have pups in their first breeding season. Unlike domestic dogs, dingoes only have pups once a year and it is usually only the dominant pair of each pack will breed successfully and raise pups.

Dens are well hidden and very carefully guarded. The other pack members also help to rear the pups. The social system within packs means that not all pups can survive to adulthood. Usually only two pups will survive to the next breeding season. Generally pups usually become independent at 3–4 months of age, or if in a pack, when the next breeding season begins.

June to August is feeding time for newborn pups.

Once new born pups arrive, their mothers may be aggressive. They need to find food for themselves and their pups. Alpha mothers are very domineering during this stage, even killing another mother’s pups if she has mated with one of the pack. It’s all about survival of the strongest and the alpha pair want their pups to survive.

September to November is when pups are learning to hunt.

December to February is when they are usually learning pack rules.

Pups learn pack rules through play, and showing aggressive behaviour to gain dominance.

Dingo pups usually first venture out from their natal den at three weeks of age. Then by around eight weeks, the natal den is abandoned, and pups occupy various rendezvous dens until fully weaned at 8 weeks. Pups usually roam by themselves within 3 km of these dens, but are accompanied by adults on longer treks. Both the male and female pack members help the mother introduce the pups to whole food (9 to 12 weeks), usually by gorging on a kill then returning to the den to regurgitate food to the pups. The mother waters the pups by regurgitation, as well. Pups become independent at 3-4 months, but often assist in the rearing of younger pups until they reach sexual maturity at around 20 months old.

Information reproduced with permission from

Understanding dingoes pack behaviour is vital to understanding why often dog attacks on stock rarely diminish regardless of how stringent the control methods are to reduce dingo numbers.

Destruction of the pack structure may mean immature dingoes seeking food and a mate without the guidance, control and training of their elders. That is when young dingoes are likely to go rogue.