Late summer stinks! The sticky heat, flies, threat of bushfires, yuck! I hate it. This year, it just went on and on. Arrrrgghh! So, with the meeting hall and the reception centre both air conditioned, we finally gave in and bought an air conditioner for the house!
What a relief that nights are finally cool and the prospect of cuddling up with a dog on the bed is again a potentially pleasant experience! Cool crisp sleeping nights, brilliant, sunny mornings and warm, peaceful, golden evenings with the setting sun making the Dingoes' coats blaze. These are things to set one's spirits soaring! Breeding season aside, late autumn at the Dingo Sanctuary can be heavenly!
Although the dry weather has made but a muddy puddle of our dam, recent rains greened up the grass a bit. There has been no run-off. With large areas of the state drought declared, I guess we won't complain!
Big fanfare! The much-vaunted Reception is up, and all it needs is some floor covering! David Graham of Ace Carpentry and assistants did the work, and we found David easy to deal with, his suggestions helpful and workmanship excellent.
He immediately identified the tilted concrete slab on which the portable building sits as the cause of our difficulty in closing its rear door and raised the building 60mm on its north-western side.
Along with the veranda, George Parker's painting work has transformed the rather non-descript portable site office we started with into an attractive reception. And George will work for a few stubbies, so we are now lining him up to do the inside of the meeting hall. Thanks, too, to Ron for organising paint!
With a reception office installed, we will no longer have confused visitors wandering around the parking area looking for a way in. Gate takings and merchandise sales can be integrated, with a nice merchandise display clearly visible to visitors as they walk out. And we can lock up the building when it is not in use, to obviate the risk of merchandise being stolen.
The view from the shop front inside looking out the north-western door is of a green, forested corridor. Looking good!
As we actually do have a garage, some have asked why my poor car is always left stranded in the weather. Well .... it's because the garage is full of dog food (a gradually shrinking mountain - thanks again, SuperCoat!), dog crates, Hydrobath, freezers full of bones, header tank for dog drinkers, dog dishes, dog leashes and collars, dog shampoos, medications, flea rinses (get the drift?
On a more serious note, we still do not have suitable warm, dry accommodation for treating ill and injured dogs at the Sanctuary. So that is why I am again mooting the idea of a building where we could accommodate ill or quarantined dogs, medications and grooming gear.
Want more reasons? Well, as you know, SuperCoat donated a large amount of dog food. Fortunately this is very well packed ... like, in about 12 000 sample packs inside about five hundred cardboard shippers. But let's face it, mice and rats much prefer dog food to rodent baits, and are doing their darnedest to get into all that food. We can't make the garage rodent-proof, and we do want to continue to be able to accept large donations of food. Then, of course, the rats and mice need somewhere warm to nest for the winter. With the garage close by, they try our house first. When I board up yet another gap, I suspect they retire to nests under the dilapidated covered pens we wish to demolish and where I plan to put the new building.
And then there is all that cardboard and high energy dog food stacked to the rafters (he types, relieved the threat is now much reduced due to the appetites of our canine residents). It would go up like a bomb, and I guess the house would quickly follow. Thank goodness we have now gotten the petrol stored somewhere else!
So, a rodent-proof room in which to store our feed would be a blessing! Then, if we could use our garage for tools and vehicles, ensuring both are kept put away after use, I know there are some who might actually donate some!
And if we had indoor/outdoor accommodation for dogs, we could provide a low cost boarding service to our members, and day visitors with dogs, when the facility is not otherwise in use. With a steam cleaner, and kennel wash, we could easily keep the indoor facility disinfected, whereas our existing earth runs cannot be cleaned in this way.
So, we need a feed storage, treatment and grooming facility. And that would be it! Building program complete! What a nice dream!
Yindi is now fifteen, and while she is still reasonably bright and alert, considering her age, she is certainly very wobbly on her legs. We had not expected this magnificent, if worn-out old Dingo to attract any sponsorship, so we were very pleasantly surprised when Margaret Bamford offered to support her in memory of her old dog Dreamer. Thanks to Margaret, we now have money specifically to make Yindi's sunset years a li'l more comfortable
With her obvious arthritis, we have been concerned about the effects the winter may have on Yindi. We have provided an extra doghouse especially for her, but she still insists on sleeping outside in her enclosure, rain, wind or shine, unless the weather is very bad. Yindi is now on deltazone, which is greatly relieving potential aches and pains.
Yindi has become accustomed to being handfed by Margo, Mary and Pam, so tablets are easily administered by food, provided it is done in daylight hours.
Last I remember writing about Jedda, it was on a somewhat lighter note, relating to her escapades at avoiding contraception. She seems to be always there in the background, never standing out from the pack. Good Friday was different.
A little after lunchtime, I could hear a rather desperate whimpering going on in the Sanctuary. I had a look outside, but could not make out who it was. When the noise continued, Berenice also became concerned, and so I went outside to search for the cause of the whining.
I soon found it. Jedda was walking around her enclosure, neck stretched out, abdomen hideously swollen, crying in agony. This brought back horrid memories of nights at a veterinary hospital in Bankstown, treating bloated dogs, many of which subsequently died. What a way for this placid old girl to go! :( It certainly was an unpleasant surprise.
Owners of Great Danes, St Bernards and other large, deep-chested breeds become adept at dealing with the problem, but who ever heard of a Dingo bloating?
Anyway, rummaging among Berenice's asthma stuff, I managed to find a length of rubber tubing and tried to pass that down Jedda's throat, however, she was still well and truly conscious enough to keep spitting it out, despite attempts to gag her with a roll of elastoplast.
Of course, I did not know if Jedda's stomach had twisted, and so was not sure how much time I had to get her deflated. In this case, I may have been wasting time attempting to pass a tube into her stomach.
When dogs bloat, the stomach can sometimes twist around, kinking off any outlet for accumulating gas from fermenting food inside. The dog's stomach quickly becomes enormous and presses on blood vessels returning blood to the heart. As the flow of blood is reduced, the animal quickly goes into circulatory shock and collapses. Some rather nasty metabolic changes follow, and it can take quite a bit to get affected animals stabilised. The only way to give the dog immediate relief is to puncture the stomach.
In the case of torsion, one can later consider surgery to anchor the stomach so the torsion does not occur again. But according to Society veterinarian, Dr Andrew O'Shea, there is often some contributing cause, such as a splenic tumour, complicating the whole thing.
While a 14 gauge trochar would have been ideal, all I had was a 19 gauge needle. Gritting my teeth, I resolutely stabbed it into her left abdominal wall, into her swollen stomach. Immediately gas began to issue forth, which was good, because sometimes there is a lot of froth, which won't pass through a small needle very well.
Well, the immediate danger was past, but it was only a few minutes before Jedda had swelled up as badly as before. Veterinary colleague, Dr O'Shea, advised further attempts at intubation and breaking down any froth with vegetable oil.
What ensued was a wrestle with this tough old girl I'd rather forget. I was trying to be as gentle as possible but she was pretty darned strong and easily resisted all attempts at help. Despite my taping her muzzle firmly, she kept spitting out the elastoplast roll gag, through which I was trying to pass the tube.
She was swelling up again and I was becoming desperate. Finally, I had to tell her in no uncertain terms to behave and taped her muzzle tightly with Husky tape. After repeated attempts, listening carefully for air coming up the tube as she breathed and feeling for the tube going down the side of her neck (didn't want to go into her lungs), I got the tube into her stomach, and there was a bubbling explosion of gas and fluid.
Jedda was finally deflated. So was I! I squirted about 10ml of Dante Virgin Olive Oil, grabbed from near the stove, into her stomach, and left the tube there for a while. Jedda lay quietly on her side.
What an episode! Anyway, to cut a long story short, I put Jedda on amoxycillin for five days, and she has fully recovered. In fact, she seems brighter than and more friendly with me than before. Haven't seen her so sprightly for some time. I am so glad that the incident did not end in tragedy. What a relief!
Of course it is that time of the year again! The Dingoes on Fraser Island know it and unfortunately, our Dingoes know it. However, our lot have been pretty well behaved.
Shadow is the only one who has not received contraceptive this year. As she is now running with Koori (Teena is back with her old running mate, Yothu), we are hoping for a small litter of puppies from the pair later this year. Of course, Shadow is directly opposite alpha male, Mr Snowdrift, who is decidedly unhappy that his girl is not coming into season. He has made a few hopeful attempts with Nardoo, but having had contraceptive earlier, she is decidedly not in the mood, and has let poor Snowy know that in no uncertain terms. Poor Snowdrift!
I know I will cop flak for referring to ZoŽ in this way, but she deserves it! Why, oh why didn't I just let her go to Taronga Zoo?!
Seriously, ZoŽ is very affectionate to humans, but just so terribly dog aggressive. She and Romulus have had a fight, and Romulus sustained a nick in one of his ears. As a result, ZoŽ now lives on her own, and Romulus now runs with Bindi. Peace reigns ...
This time, ChloŽ and Amber! We had just hosted a visit by some people from Headway Illawarra, an organisation which attempts to integrate people with neurological disorders into the community, when the Sanctuary erupted in pandemonium.
My Blackdog (Dwezel) and ChloŽ had been moved some weeks ago into Willie's and Kadoka's enclosure adjacent to the house yard. Here, they have managed to attack the irrigation system, which will now need some repairs.
Well anyway, ChloŽ had managed to climb the fence, and in the absence of any capping on her side, had jumped in with Amber and Gunda. Amber and ChloŽ were locked in mortal combat, while Gunda leapt about, slashing at ChloŽ's rear end.
With the females continually shifting grip, I was unable to get a hand on each scruff for quite a while. Finally, as they began to tire, I was able to collar both of them, but just as I would get them apart, they would lock on each other again.
Meanwhile, Gunda pranced about continuing to slash. I bellowed for a leash and someone to take that obnoxious dog out, but Gunda deftly avoided any attempt to get him on lead.
As they tired, both fighting dogs began to try to bite legs to disable each other. There were several nasty bites in this period. Finally, unable to leash Gunda, Margo came over to help with ChloŽ and together, we finally got them apart and out of the enclosure.
Needless to say, ChloŽ and Blackdog have been moved back to less salubrious quarters on the other side of the Sanctuary, and Willie is back in her old enclosure! ChloŽ and Amber are on a course of amoxycillin for their trouble, and seem to be recovering well.
In addition to our usual weekend and tour group visitors, we had the pleasure of hosting a number of others from overseas and interstate. Steve Boebinger from Orlando, FL, USA (near where those twisters did some damage recently) dropped in one sultry afternoon in February, filmed my tour of the Dingo Sanctuary, and later Steve, Berenice and I all had a great time sharing wine and pizza in the picnic area.
I guess the only mildly sour note was when I tactlessly told the Dingoes to shut up after they began to howl for the millionth time that day. I had not realised Steve and Berenice has been howling with them. Oops! Too much of a good thing, I guess.
Soon after, we were pleased to host Enar and Ulla Hemmings from Sweden, who had been referred to us by Connie Redhead. We weren't sure exactly when they were supposed to arrive, though Connie had given us an idea when they were due.
On the day they did arrive, I had planned to go to the lab. to do some research and so was glad I hadn't actually gone. Our dogs let us know someone was walking along the front fence and when I checked it out, I could see two rather lost-looking people trying to find a way into "Fortress Merigal".
Of course, we soon sorted out what was going on and after the obligatory tour to show off our canine residents, enjoyed another night under the stars in the picnic area with mosquito repellent candles, bottle of wine, the stars and our Dingoes.
Our most recent guests, Audrey and Francis Harvey from south-east Queensland, together with "fur-kids" Cody and Kato, decided to stay the night. Despite the fact we were happily making a habit of wine and dinner with our guests in the picnic area with the Dingoes, it was not to be. Predictably, cool, drizzly weather had arrived with Easter to end the torment of interminable summer. And it was welcome.
Having seen my aunt shivering in Sydney, under conditions where we were wearing light clothing, every time she made the trek south from Darwin, I thought a fire was in order, and later we all shared a barbecue meal in the house.
Cody and Kato, two handsome and well behaved Australian Cattle Dog star agility performers happily slept in the Commodore, parked in our driveway Audrey and Francis soon earned their keep with a brisk morning's work, scooping, feeding out, raking enclosures and filling in Dingo holes! The enclosures they raked free of months of accumulated leaves and debris still look marvellous as a result of their efforts. And we had enough mulch to make a new garden near where Romulus and Bindi now live. Thanks guys!
That afternoon, we shared a walk with dogs to the dam. Then, after another night at the Sanctuary with us, Audrey and Francis headed back to Queensland on the Tuesday.
With only two days a week to spend on the Dingo genetics project I am making slow progress, but having mastered the techniques well and truly now, I am getting more and more done in the lab. We again have an honours student who is sharing the work and will continue with the microsatellite side of the research.
Project supervisor, Dr Alan WIlton has applied for two grants which would enable his laboratory to employ experienced help to kick things along at a greater rate. One of these is an industry/government cooperative research grant. Being a part of the Dingo "industry", we have committed to providing two thousand dollars annually for three years to the research should the grant application prove successful.
The recent media debacle on Fraser Island where a baby was grabbed by a wild Dingo and dragged about a metre has given one Dingo at least a stab at stardom.
On the morning before the now infamous sacking of Patricks Stevedores' entire workforce, we received a call from Channel Nine's Today Show. In light of the recent bad publicity about Dingoes on Fraser Island, they wanted to do a positive story on Dingoes. Could we appear with two Dingoes on the Today Show? Channel Nine would organise transport. Our segment would be the lead story for the program that day. Well, we agreed to do it, of course!
The worst thing about it was the time we'd have to leave. Because our segment was scheduled for 8.10 am, we would have to leave at 5.50 am. Yuck! So, at 4.45 am, I was up and getting ready. By about half past five, I had the required paraphernalia together, and the car arrived. Imagine my surprise when it turned out to be a $100 000 Merc. Actually, I was informed it would cost $220 000 to replace at current prices.
Well, of course, the owner/driver became rather concerned when I suggested we would need to take two dogs uncrated in his car. Eventually I decided we could only take one - Oola - and I would nurse her.
It was just as well we got away early. By the time we hit the M5, it was obvious there had been some sort of accident, and a traffic jam was backed up for miles.
With news of the latest twist in the waterfront battle taking the headlines, our segment was put back twenty minutes. That gave me plenty of time to use the amenities ... it had been a long time since that cup of tea in the morning!
But what to do with the dog? In the end, Oola came into the men's room with me. I sure am glad no one came in while we were in there. I can hardly imagine what they would have thought of a Dingo in the men's toilet at Channel Nine!
At about half past eight having survived the ordeal in the loo, we were safely seated on the set with Tracy Grimshaw and Steve Liebman. As the cameras cut to Tracy, Oola's head was beautifully profiled right next to her! While the dopey human in semi-concious stupor after such an early start tried to answer the questions as best he could, Oola continued looking magnificent!
I nursed her throughout the interview. Hey, there is not much room around that coffee table on the set of the Today Show!
I had mentioned to the producer we had made a program with Beyond Productions with some good Dingo footage in it. During the interview, a wonderful video overlay of Romulus and Aussie Host in our one acre paddock, dismembering a pretend "baby" we had made with nine and a half pounds of lamb shanks, bacon, a pillowcase and woollen shawl filled the screen. Romulus looked wonderful!
On the way home, our driver could only remark on how excellently behaved Oola was. I was still nursing her, and with her wriggling and shifting on my lap for about four hours in total, was feeling rather the worse for wear when we finally returned to the Sanctuary. "Mrs Packer will never believe a Dingo sat exactly where she usually sits," the driver chuckled.
A little over a week later, Margo Press, Dingoes and I were headed back to the studios of Channel Nine. Midday Show producer, Bill Wallace, had booked us in for a segment on the show with the celebrated cookery journalist Margaret Fulton and show host, Kerri-Anne Kennelly, well before the Patricks fiasco.
It was a drizzly day, but we took two dogs, Oola and Sheila. Afterall, it was only my poor car which was going to be shed in and slobbered on, so no problem.
When we arrived, we settled in the foyer of Channel Nine to watch people such as James Packer, Ray Martin and others passing though and wait for our segment. Soon the appointed time came, and we were whisked behind the set into the studio.
I had only just remembered that there was a studio audience and band and cringed at the thought of what our Dingoes would do when they found out. But I need not have worried. Both dogs took it in their stride. This time I had people to handle the Dingoes. Margaret took Sheila, while Kerri-Anne took Oola. Imagine my shock when about half way through the interview, Kerri-Anne let Oola go!
Oola wandered off the set casually, and into the crowd. It was great to have Margo there to handle her and the cameraman got excellent footage of her, with Margo, working the crowd for affection! This time, having had a practice run on the Today Show, I was ready for questions, and Kerri-Anne's interviewing manner was non-threatening. So we covered an enormous amount of material in the amazing nine minutes we got on national TV, most of which is reflected in the editorial.
Other recent highlights included an interview with Peter Thompson on Radio National's AM program. I hope we gave the knee-jerk, "shoot the ratbags" anti-Dingo lobby something to think about. I know it is very important for people to see that Dingoes have some organised support.
The huge success of our sponsorship program is really helping at the Sanctuary. While we think about the cost of feeding Dingoes, we often don't remember ancilliary costs such as accommodation and health.
And then there are other things. To ensure the ancestry of our Dingo colony here, and Dingoes generally, can be verified, we need to carry out research. Verifying ancestry is vital to preserving the pure Dingo and protecting it from crossbreeding. Your support has allowed us to commit $2 000 annually for three years to the Dingo genetics project at the University of NSW, using the latest DNA techniques, so that supervisor, Dr Alan Wilton, can apply for government assistance to get a part time research assistant on the job to speed things along. This would be in addition to my work, which of course will remain unpaid.
For those who may wish to get involved in Dingo sponsorship, there are a few Dingoes who haven't found any support as yet. They are: Bloomfield, Daintree and Yothu. We have been approached about sponsorship for Amber, Gunda, Mandawuy and Coo-ee. We don't know what is happening about sponsorship of Koori. If you can help with anyone, please let us know. Details on back page. Thanks so much! :-)
It is great to report that most of our members have renewed, but for those who have not, renewal is now overdue. Please either send us your renewal and remittance, or let us know about any problems. We don't want to lose anyone, really, but cannot afford to keep on those who we can only surmise have no intention of renewing.
From here, it can often feel like one is transmitting into a black hole. In the absence of anything returning over the "event horizon" all we can do is cancel the overdue memberships. Please let us know what you want to do. Thanks!! :-)
Lots of noise outside this afternoon, and guess what! Shadow and Koori have just had a mating. This will be the first litter bred from Koori, who came to us from the wild in the Atherton area. Shadow is not young, but has had two litters. If all goes well, we can expect puppies mid-July!