Tuesday 15 October 2019

Berenice Defends Failed Seeing Eye Dingo

In 1977 a seven week old dingo pup, Nerida, was given to the Lady Nell Seeing Eye Dog School by Bruce Jacobs. She was to be trained as a seeing eye dog to fulfil a condition of a $30,000 donation to the school promised by retiree, Mr John Blair. Mr Blair had shot a blind dingo more than half a century earlier while its sighted mate was trying to lead it to safety. Haunted by the incident he concluded that if a dingo could lead its blind mate in the wild then perhaps it could lead blind people in the suburbs.

It was expected to take 18 months to train Nerida. In July 1978 it was reported she had passed her early tests with flying colours

However, in 1979 “Dingo training as seeing eye dog flop” and “attempts to train a dingo as a seeing eye dog failed” featured in the papers.

The report went on to say “After 12 months training, two-year old Nerida couldn’t make the grade.

Labradors usually graduate from the school after six months … The main problem is lack of concentration. She’s still a puppy at heart and likes to play around rather than getting stuck into the work. We’re not sure whether inability or immaturity caused this.”

Berenice believed the headlines were just another example of exploitation and questioned what chance the project had of success.

She recorded her reaction in the August 1979 edition of Merigal Magazine

For those who are experienced with the Dingo, nothing could be less suitable to the character and temperament of the Dingo, or any hunting dog, than the stability and predictability essential in the seeing-eye dog. What this school describes as “lack of concentration” is in actual fact concentration on hunting instincts. It is a pity these people did not take the trouble to learn a little more about the breed to start with; and instead of blaming the breed because it has not come up to expectations, blaming themselves.

But I suppose the remuneration that was reportedly offered to the school to attempt the training of the Dingo for this type of work was considered reason enough. If this school considers hunting dogs such as the Dingo could excel at this type of work, one wonders why they don’t experiment with the Afghan, Basenji, Saluki, Pharaoh, Dachshund or Greyhound.

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Thursday 10 October 2019

Reviews of Dingo Books

This blog brings together reviews I have written for several books on dingoes. I have included a summary of reviews of my own books, For the Love of a Dingo and Merigal Dingoes, as well as links to blogs with words of warning for dingo researchers.

The Dingo Debate: Origins, Behaviour and Conservation by Bradley Smith (Editor).

I’ll begin with what I believe to be the most valuable book on Dingoes for many years,

This is not a book simply to read. It is one all dingo advocates, conservationists and ecologists should return to repeatedly for information supporting our fight to save the Dingo.

There is a new breed of young scientists studying the dingo. Editor, Bradley Smith is one of them. Their positive findings on the need to preserve not annihilate the dingo needs to be heeded by all governments. I hope the ongoing research by these young researchers continues to be published and made available to the general public.

Here is the link to my full review.

Dingo Tails: Kane Guy

I have never read a book on any subject containing such a wealth of knowledge in a series of short stories by so many different writers.

Dingoes Tails was the concept of Kane Guy a teacher, writer, husband, father of three, and absolute dingo admirer.

With the publication of Dingo Tails Kane hopes to paint a new picture of the dingo in the eyes of everyday Australians; that by the end of the book the reader will be able to see through the indoctrination of media sensationalism and appreciate the true beauty of the dingo through its many endearing and truly unique qualities.

Here is the link to my full review.

Living with Dingoes by Gill Ryhorchuk

Living with Dingoes gives greater insight and understanding of this beautiful Australian native animal. It clearly describes dingo behaviour and mannerisms and I enjoyed reading about the varying personalities of Gillian’s dingoes

This is a must reading for anyone considering owning a dingo. In fact it should be compulsory reading for anyone considering a dingo as a pet as they are definitely not suited to many people

Here is the link to my full review.

Living with the Dingo by Adam O’Neill

This is not a book full of scientific jargon but rather O’Neill’s observations and experience deliver a “Biodiversity 101” lesson at a practical level, explained in easy to understand language.

My favourite quotation in the book is:

Only when we put away the poison baits and concentrate on rehabilitating our environment as a whole, will our endangered species have any hope of survival. The dingo has 4,000 years of experience in managing Australian land systems and controlling the animals that existed within them. I believe the dingo is our only chance for eco-reconciliation.

Here is the link to my full review.

Dingoes Don’t Bark by Lionel Hudson

The book clearly describes the situation and plight of the dingo at the time (1974) and gives some of its sad history since white settlement including its relationship with Aboriginal people before the impact of that invasion.

He also raises a topic not considered a great deal in the early 1970s; that of the dingo’s role in maintaining the balance in nature. Meeting Robert Harden, who was researching dingoes and kept one at home, gave him further insight into this animal he had come to admire. Many old dingo myths are disproven.

Here is the link to my full review.

The Way of the Dingo

As a dingo lover, it is a tough book to read. But I must confess it is beautifully written.

Sid Wright was a dingo hunter and the fictional story is based on his experiences.

The reason I did read it was because Sid Wright also understood and respected the dingo.

Here is the link to my full review.