Monday 30 September 2019

Death of Dora

In March 1988 Berenice’s first dingo, Dora, the one she was given to prove her claim about dingoes being tameable and trusting was true, died.

At nearly 14 years of age, Dora was an 'old' dog, but retained her quality for life right up to the final days. She would still try to play with Berenice with bows and backward jumps - only to collapse on the ground as her arthritic legs gave way but smiling all the time. 

They still enjoyed a daily walk down into the Merigal garden, sharing as they had done over the past 13½ years.

Although Dora had dingo friends, she continued to be friends with the cattle dogs. Her latest was female Cattle Dog, Wish. Wish would make Dora's day. As soon as she was let out of her night yard, Wish would rush to find Dora so she could submit to her, sliding along the ground in complete submission. Dora would stand there with her head up high, her tail over her rump, the expression in her eyes regal and aloof, though sometimes there was a little surprise on Dora’s face at this total submission. But it all helped to keep a twinkle of youth in Dora's heart and enjoy her position as the alpha Dingo bestowed on her when Napoleon died suddenly.

Dora was buried in the little dingo cemetery', next to the grave of her illustrious son, Napoleon. Not many people can boast having patted Dora, she was very much a one-person dog, but everyone respected and admired her. She was never a problem dog. She did not dig, or try to jump out of her enclosure, she was very obedient. She was always close by, but never seemed to intrude. It had been a great concern to Berenice a time could come when she could no longer meet her needs as an old dog and give her the extra support.

Berenice was scheduled to go into hospital in early April and for some months would not be able to lift or carry anything. It seemed to Berenice, in keeping with the whole of Dora's life, she should not be a burden at this time, and she passed away quietly.

If there had been no Dora, there would have been no project, no Society. Berenice owed much to her and learned so much from her. Always aloof and free spirited, she was the essence of the Dingo in the wild and the essence of the domestic Dingo - a totally adorable enigma. There would never be another Dora for Berenice.

Right to the end she maintained her independence, which was sometimes frustrating. When she saw Berenice preparing to 'feed up', she would go under the house and refuse to come out until she was ready, thereby holding up the progress of the evening routine. Even giving Dora her tablets was fraught with 'danger'. As she took her medication, she would frequently look Berenice straight in the eye and bite down hard, many times reducing her to tears. But that was Dora, and Berenice loved her so dearly.

Dora was sponsored in her final years by the RSPCA Head Office, and it was with a heavy heart Berenice advised Mr McCaskill of the death of their protege.

Committee member Ailza Green arrived early on the morning of Dora's death, and helped Berenice dig Dora’s grave in an area reserved as a cemetery, and where her son Napoleon was buried just over three years earlier, an area being developed into a Memorial Garden.

Sunday 15 September 2019

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

I initially read The Dingo Debate cover to cover because I am passionately interested in Dingoes and there is very little up to date information available in book form. I was enthralled by the amount and quality of the information.  Every section was informative and covered all aspects of the Dingo. I am currently writing the biography of Berenice Walters, the Dingo Lady (1928-2002) and frequently refer back to this book to check historical facts and differences in our knowledge now compared to her time.

The Dingo is Australia’s most controversial, maligned and misunderstood animal. The history of the dingo has been one of condemnation and cruelty surrounded by myths and lies spread largely by the grazing fraternity.

The Dingo Debate sets the record straight with scientific evidence of its important role as an apex predator in keeping the balance of nature and controlling feral pests. Anyone considering reading the book should not be put off by my use of the word “scientific”. It is written in a manner easily understood by the average lay person.

It discusses the origin of the Dingo and their relationship with the indigenous people, how they live in the wild, their contribution to ecology and the impact of attempts to wipe out dingoes. It is well illustrated with photographs and tables and includes comprehensive reference tables at the end of each chapter.

This is not a book simply to read. It is one all dingo advocates, conservationists and ecologists should return to over and over again 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.