Tuesday 29 May 2018

There is No Native Dog

Dora, Berenice's first Dingo
In the early 1970s Berenice constantly harassed a variety of officials about the welfare of the Dingo, our Native Dog and was just as often told "There is no Native Dog, lady, only a Native Cat"!

Dating back to 1972, her many requests for approval to 'keep and train a Dingo' were met with denials and monotonous repetition of the fact that the Dingo is a noxious animal and its keeping illegal without approval; that the Minister would not grant approval to private individuals to keep animals classed as noxious; that any person suspected of harbouring such animals was liable to a heavy fine and the destruction of said animals; that the Dingo was a wild animal. 

When she hastened to explain the Dingo had been the domestic companion of the aboriginal people, she was tersely told "Look lady, you would not know because you've never had one.

“True”, she thought, “but my time will come”. 

Generally, Departmental individuals were sympathetic, even in agreement, but there was always the law strictly policed by the strong grazier lobby.

From the early 1970's, there was a general softening in attitude, and more neutral articles and letters began appearing in the press.  At this time, the prolonged and intense struggle for the initial recognition and acceptance of the Dingo took another step forward. 

Berenice was told if got a pup to keep out of the press, and don't call it a Dingo. 

Tuesday 22 May 2018

Blondie: Affectionate, Loyal and Endearing

Bondie and Trevor
Blondie was one of the most affectionate, loyal and endearing Dingoes.  She was also one of the finest examples of the Dingo.  Everything about her was appealing.

In 1977 a grazier in the Armidale district had reared her to infuse Dingo blood into his working dogs.  Once the litter was whelped, Blondie was to be shot.  However, the grazier's wife loved Blondie, and contacted the Society, appealing for them to take her in.

Berenice agreed, and Blondie duly arrived by rail accompanied by one of her pups to help her settle in.  She had a little sign on her collar saying, 'Please love me'.

She matured into a glorious adult, very trusting and well-adjusted. With kennel mate Peter Pan she led the society in many processions.  However, Blondie was destined to make medical history as well.

The first sign Blondie had problems was at 10pm on the evening of June 6, 1978. Berenice heard scratching sounds coming from the kennels.  All the dogs were alert and the cattle dogs were giving spasmodic questioning barks.  Blondie was running around in circles desperately trying to claw at something apparently caught in her teeth.

Investigation to locate the problem revealed nothing, but her tongue was swollen and bruised.  Assuming she had been bitten by an ant, and as she did not appear to be otherwise sick, she was put back into her yard.  At the time she was about four weeks in pup.

By morning, Blondie's tongue was so swollen she could not close her mouth. It was obvious something drastic was wrong and she was in urgent need of immediate veterinary attention.  A careful and thorough examination by Jim Della-Vedova did not reveal the trouble and in desperation, as her blood pressure was low and her breathing laboured, she was anaesthetised. 

At last the reason for her sudden demise was found.  A piece of aorta from beef scraps fed the evening before, had worked its way up her tongue to the root, completely cutting off circulation and causing the incredible swelling.

Removing the obstruction, Jim bathed the tongue for hours to get the circulation back. 
Blondie was too weak to move.  With Blondie at home for the night, Berenice continued the bathing, but the swelling did not subside. The tongue was cold and appeared "dead".

Blondie was visibly weaker when they returned to Jim next morning. Her life hung in the balance.  Unfortunately, blood poisoning had set in and, to save her life, all but the rudiments of her tongue would have to be removed.

Other vets argued she could not live naturally without her tongue but Jim, who greatly admired her as a magnificent specimen of the Dingo breed and the great courage she had shown through the whole ordeal, believed she should be given the opportunity to adjust if it were at all possible.

Blondie remained with Jim for five days, being fed intravenously.  After being given five litres of fluid to ensure a good start, she returned home.  Could she keep herself clean?  Could she learn to drink?  Berenice watched over her anxiously, trying to give her support and confidence.

Next day, Blondie was observed quietly standing beside her bucket of water.  She immersed her lower jaw into the water and drank with a gulping action and without problems.  This was the first step towards survival.

Eating was the next step.  She maintained her condition throughout her ordeal but dropped weight rapidly on returning home.  She still appeared to be carrying pups.

Though her mouth was still painful, she was managing to eat a little, scattering food everywhere.  Feeding her mince rolled into balls, she was able to pick them up and, throwing her head up, chew and swallow each piece.

Blondie soon became adept at her new lifestyle and quickly recovered but she lost her pups - perhaps it was just as well.  Without a tongue, how could she ever have coped with a litter?

Blondie was to give Berenice yet another surprise.  The following year Blondie whelped.  It was assumed she could not care for her pups except to feed them and keep them warm, so Berenice was prepared to stay with her 24 hours a day to assist.  She was virtually not needed.

Using her lips, Blondie cleaned and massaged her six beautiful sons. The only assistance she required on the first day was to rub each pup dry.  She was a devoted mother.  Her whelping box was covered with blankets with a small opening for her to come and go. Her pups were snug and warm.

Three years later Blondie continued to thrive. She was a great favourite with member, Trevor Charles, who said of her:

"Blondie is a wonderful, sweet, gentle lady.  I'm sure she would be a licker if she had a tongue.

"When we first started running together, she was very cautious.  She took much longer than the others to relax and enjoy her run.  As with all the others, Berenice had to put their leads on in the beginning.  Blondie was probably the last to let me catch her.

"Like most of the others, she didn't want to go too far from the house, I suppose partly because of her territorial habits, and because she didn't really know me.  Blondie's confidence came one day when she found Napoleon's land marks and followed them.  Then she didn't mind being out of sight of the house.  Now she knows me, there is no problem, but I've noticed with her and several others, that they stay quite close to me if I take them into a different area.

"When I enter Blondie's yard, she either sits up, or stands on her back legs and reaches out with her paws as if to hold and kiss.  Sometimes she does it so gently, you would swear she was afraid of crushing you.

"She is also a gentle runner.  Somehow, she gets you going much faster than the others do but does not tire you out so much.  It's a very smooth pace, gradually building up the speed.  This is quite the opposite to the Kosciusko Dingoes that run more like sledge dogs, putting their shoulders and muscle into it, which is much more tiring.

"Late one afternoon when Blondie and I were returning from a run, she spotted a rabbit.  She ups on her back legs and literally bounded (hopped), several times into the air to see where the rabbit was going before she finally came down on all fours again.  I thought she had turned into a kangaroo, as that was just what she looked like."

Blondie was never 'just one of the Dingoes' at Merigal. There are many unique and strange stories about dingoes and one belongs to Blondie. When she arrived, a tree was planted in her yard.

During her final pregnancy, after which she died from blood poisoning, a large white dog was often seen in the thick bush nearby, just looking towards her. It was quite eerie and foreboding.

The night she was supposed to whelp, the tree was blown down and Blondie died three days later. Months later the run became the home of Jarrah, and we were astounded to see the stump of the fallen tree grow shoots. The tree continued to grow vigorously to a height of over 10 feet high.

Sometime after Blondie past away Berenice received a telephone call from, Wilma Bedford, National Coordinator of Great Pet Stories Search. Ms Bedford had seen an article in Country Style Magazine about Merigal and was hopeful Berenice would have some suitable stories to enter in the Search. With only a week to get something together, she submitted four stories including one she had written some years earlier about Blondie and her disability.

Blondie’s story was selected Joint State Winner for NSW, an honour shared with a story about a Persian Cat. Berenice considered it an honour just to be invited to participate but having her Dingo story judged a winner she was over the moon with excitement.

In addition to a certificate, her prize was a voucher for $50.00 worth of goods from Pets Paradise, so she took the opportunity to stock up on leads.

Wednesday 16 May 2018

Dingo Support Mail Mysteriously Disappears

What was afoot following the disappearance of Azaria Chamberlain? Was someone trying to prevent Berenice’s campaign to prove the innocence of the Dingo?

This article is not intended to resurrect arguments about the disappearance of a baby girl at Ayers Rock (Uluru) in 1980 but it seems there was certainly an effort to quieten those supporting the Dingo.

On the 11 February 1981 Berenice posted a lengthy report questioning claims made about a Dingo being responsible for the disappearance of Azaria Chamberlain.

It was sent by Registered Mail from Picton Post Office to Mr Ashley Macknay, Crown Law Officer, at the court house, Alice Springs.

No receipt was received, and nor any mention of it, or any of the material it contained.

Berenice believed a great injustice had been done to the Dingo, and many claims against it, and accepted as evidence, were, at best, highly questionable.

She was horrified when the verdict was handed down.  Was it the end? She told a reporter this was only the beginning.

Many people were sickened at the lack of support for the Dingo.  It appeared only evidence supporting claims a Dingo was guilty were accepted as evidence. 

A copy of the submission was sent to Mr Paul Everingham, Chief Administrator of the Northern Territory, advising no acknowledgment or receipt of the report sent to the Coroner had been received. While Berenice did not think anything she said would change the course of justice, she believed the Dingo had been unnecessarily persecuted.

Mr Everingham acknowledged receipt of her letter and copy of the report but there was still no indication if her report had been considered. In a follow up letter to Mr Everingham she requested permission to release the contents of her report.

It was October when he advised her letter was “under detailed examination” and he would write to her as soon as possible.

It was a further two weeks when he advised there was NO RECORD of his office receiving the report forwarded in March and he had NO KNOWLEDGE of its contents whatever. He added, “the transcript of the Azaria Chamberlain Inquest held at Alice Springs does not contain or even mention the report.  I can only conclude the Coroner has not made official use of your paper.” He added he could not comment on her request to release the document and suggested she contact the Coroner to take the matter further.

The months of anguish Berenice had suffered preparing the document in defence of the Dingo, and all to no apparent avail, made her feel sick particularly when she thought of the garbage accepted as evidence against the Dingo.

To prove to herself the packet had been received by the court she completed a Statutory Declaration with Australia Post, stating it was sent by Registered Post but apparently not received.

On the 16th November 1981 she received advice from Picton Post office the package had arrived in Alice Springs on the 13th February 1981. It had been delivered on the 16th February 1981 and signed for by a member of the Law Court Staff authorised to collect mail.

This was not the only parcel with strange outcomes.  During this time, the society had car stickers printed with the words ACQUIT THE DINGO.

An order containing t-shirts, souvenirs and a quantity of the stickers was mailed to a Perth Pet Shop. It arrived at its destination minus the stickers.  Initially Berenice thought she omitted putting them in the parcel and included a supply with the following order.  Again, the parcel arrived, minus the stickers.  She later discovered both parcels had been opened in transit.

Through the Society’s Patron, Senator Tony Mulvihill, she notified then Minister for Telecommunications, Ian Sinclair, of the losses. Within four days all stickers were accounted for and sent on to the Pet Shop.

Tuesday 8 May 2018

The Truth About Dingoes 14: Culling Dingoes

So we cull kangaroos, rabbits and other animals because some say there are too many of them.

But we also cull their natural predators, dingoes.

It makes no sense!

What happens with 1080* poison baiting is there is an impact of social organisation of the dingoes. When you disrupt pack structure you create a dispersal sink. You have young dispersing dingoes from usually pups from the previous year coming into that area and they don't have the pack size or the hunting experience to be able to handle larger prey, and so they are then left with the problem of how to feed themselves.

In other words, if you kill the older more experienced dingoes by poisoning them, a few weeks later when the poisons gone, young inexperienced dingoes can flood into the territory.

It's basically getting a whole bunch of young teenagers together and they just get up to all sorts of strife, and that's when they start chasing calves and sheep and tearing the ears and they get stuck into them.

Protecting dingoes is a powerful panacea for Australia's biodiversity crisis. Dingo sociality is an important factor contributing to top-down regulation potential, it's the pack-not the individual-that's functionally the apex predator.

Relaxation of 1080 control allows dingo populations to recover, leading to population control of mesopredators and generalist herbivores and an increase in small mammals. Sites that have been freed from predator control over an extended period of time continues to improve in the absence of human intervention.

* 1080 is recommended by state governments as the most effective and humane bait for dingoes and wild dogs....Humane? Seriously! Clearly a bullet to the brain is more humane than dying a slow horrible death!!

Information reproduced with permission from http://jennyleeparker3.wixsite.com/aussie-canis-dingo

Tuesday 1 May 2018

Can You Beat This?

From Berenice’s Desk July 1980

Some weeks ago, a grazier from the Southern Tablelands rang requesting the services of one of our dogs for his sheepdog bitch which was ready for mating.

Totally forgetting about the Dingoes for the moment, I asked him why he would want to mate a sheep dog to a cattle dog.

I don't want one of those bloody things said. “I want the service of one of the other dogs. I had a part dingo sheepdog years ago and she was best worker I've ever had.”

Even after being informed our Dingoes are not used for outside services, and under no circumstances for cross-breeding, he persisted, even suggesting he bring the bitch down and leave so there would be no witness to such a mating.


Even at that time, when keeping a dingo was illegal and many domestic cross bred dogs suspected (without proof) of being part dingo were destroyed, no questions asked, Berenice was disconcerted by the number of people wanting to “infuse dingo” into their registered breeds. She commented if they were to think of the off-spring as cross-breeds they would not be so keen to make a mockery of breeding pure stock.