What a dreadful summer! Good spring rains gave way to blazing sun, shrieking cicadas, hard baked soil, ominous, breathy westerlies, smoke, and inevitable fires! Backlit with a baleful, orange-red glare, news reports grimly recounted the toll. Nattai had been evacuated, and an unsuitably directed wind would soon have brought disaster to our doorstep!
In a frenzy, I cleaned gutters, moved fuel off fences, mowed firebreaks and along with others here, generally sweltered! Plans conceived in fiery 1994 to improve water storage facilities at the top end of the property remain as important as ever.
Recently, some wonderful summer storms have delivered several inches of rain to parched ground. Hopefully we will get good followup.
We have a lot of dead trees which need to come down. Two less, now, as one fell on a boundary fence in the Horse Paddock enclosure recently and had to be sawn up by Ron Marke and George Parker. Another has come down in Harry's and Yindi's enclosure. We have contacted Southern Tree Care about the problem.
Lawrie Winney paid us a visit and repaired the seal in the bore pump at the dam, after it was damaged when the outlet pipe crimped. We also plumbed in new drinkers in two new enclosures and the house yard ... no more buckets! :-)
We need to make a concerted attack on junk around the place. Ron Marke has removed a lot of it from under the Dingo "Hut" and George Parker has taken quite a bit of stuff to the tip, and begun to move pipe from the Stockyard Paddock enclosure where Lasca and Mandawuy live.
Planted in cool, drizzly spring weather, the windbreak's success seemed assured, but things changed for the worse. First some mysterious visitors began to eat it. We suspected rabbits, the likely culprits.
Mark Young, from the Moss Vale RLP Board inspected and soon ruled that out.
He advised hares, which have been seen in the area, or perhaps even resident, free-living native fauna, may have been chowing down on our new planting, and suggested a product, No Nibble. Elizabeth Smith has since put out hundreds of tree guards. Then it got dry, didn't it? so Elizabeth battled the heat and dust to keep the plants alive on town water. Now, with recent rains, the windbreak is growing well again. In addition to its function as a windbreak, it will provide a shaded walk up the south western side of the property.
Blackberries, which have provided potential rabbit harbour have since been sprayed and will be burned in winter.
Lawrie Winney has provided a robotic sprinkler, which we hope will take some of the effort out of watering for the rest of the summer, if need be.
While we go from year to year with the Dingoes suffering hardly a scratch, we have had more than our usual share of injury and illness among residents in the last couple of months ...
Over the summer holiday period, 'Queenie suddenly became very lame. With rest, over a period of a week, she came good again, and was soon trotting around her enclosure normally.
Koori, our black Dingo, also became lame for a while, but also soon recovered.
Meanwhile, Yindi, a middle-aged tropical male who was running with Bindi, suddenly became severely lame. It worsened through the day, until he would not bear weight at all on the leg.
After giving him some time to rest, it was obvious that there was a more serious problem than in the others, and he was booked in for veterinary treatment. We suspected a broken metatarsal bone.
Yindi is one of the puppies rescued by Jan Eymann after he was orphaned in the wild by pig hunting dogs. It is impossible for me to examine him at close range, which hampered investigation of the injury. The only way we could do this was under anaesthesia. I took him to Andrew O'Shea for that purpose.
Palpation of both hind legs from the hock down revealed little in the way of damage, though there was some crepitus (grinding) evident in the left hock. To investigate this further, Andrew prepared Yindi for radiography, and we decided to check hips at the same time, to add to our collection of hip x-rays.
As the radiographs developed, the cause of the lameness became evident. Yindi's right hip was seriously dislocated. But remarkably, he had shown no obvious hip deformity when he was walking about.
Treatment would have involved a femoral head resection ... removing the ball of the hip joint ... as there was no way it could have been replaced with changes which had occurred after the injury.
The quoted cost was more than reasonable, and easily within our budget, but I was very concerned about post-operative treatment. This dog would have gone through considerable further agony and, with his fear of most humans, stress, while his exercise was restricted and his wound managed. This was unjustifiable. So I authorised euthanasia on the spot.
This decision was not taken lightly or for personal reasons. I spent the afternoon of the following day, my birthday, digging ... Yindi is now with Luke and Kimba in the one acre enclosure.
Lasca @ the vet's
Lasca's muzzle had become very irritated and with no resolution of the problem with existing treatment, we took her for a trip to see Louise Ferris, the vet. Now, Lasca is usually a li'l shy with visitors here, but at the vet's she was marvellous, just sitting quite relaxed on my knee without starting at anyone who happened to walk up or down the hall.
On the consult table, she was surprisingly well behaved while her face and ears were examined, and this was commented on by all. So I am very proud of her.
Fly ointment applied to the thin hair on muzzles as well as ears, and intermittent anti-inflammatory treatment if a mosquito or two reaches its target seems to be doing the trick with regard to what was formerly the mystery muzzle problem.
Harry @ the vet's ... motor-vehicle-inspired miracle cure?
One Wednesday lately, Harry appeared to be having difficulty walking about. Margo had noted he was depressed and lethargic, and showing no interest in food. Well, the latter sure was a worry!
Investigations showed him to have a tense, sore tummy, a raised temperature, and he had vomited twice. After a couple of days' monitoring on the likelihood it was a transient gastritis, he did not improve, so we rang Andrew O'Shea for a second opinion, and scheduled a visit.
Harry's temperature was up, so Andrew recommended some amoxycillin antibiotic cover, and an early visit the next day. One possibility mentioned that I had not considered in the differential diagnosis, but absorbed with horror, was pancreatitis ... Harry's problem has begun not long after he had eaten a fairly fatty lump of a pig's head, he was in the right age bracket, and was, errr ... just a li'l more "fluffy" (we daren't say chubby!) than most other Dingoes on the property. Oh, dear!
On Friday morning, I gave Margo a call, as we had arranged earlier, and we began preparations to get Harry to Camden. When I checked on him at eight AM, he was still lethargic, depressed, and had not moved from the position he had been in the previous night.
Hmmmm ... well, by the time we were ready to put him in the car, Harry was at the gate, watching preparations with casual interest. I was rather relieved, and managed a wry grin. How many times had I been rung by desperate owners with sick doggies only to be greeted on their arrival to the veterinary surgery by bright, bouncing canines ricocheting off consult room walls and slightly confused and apologetic owners? I don't doubt Harry had been ill, but it never ceases to amaze me how car travel can coincide with miraculous recoveries in all but the sickest of dogs. Synchronicity?
Anyway, I brought the car down so Harry did not have to walk too far, and with rather minimal encouragement, he climbed in. At the vet's, he checked out the assortment of odours and scents in an interested way, did not flinch when Louise gently palpated his abdomen. In just over an hour, we had him back at the Sanctuary and he is now on a short course of amoxycillin and prednisone, while we see how he goes. He seems to be on the mend. And he is excellent at taking tablets, I must say! Oh well, it was a nice drive, anyway! :-)
Matchmaking - Yet More Kennel Reshuffling!
Most will know how my li'l dog, Flea, gives my part-bred Dingo, Dwezel (commonly known by the very original name of Blackdog), hell any time he tried to eat, and sometimes when he tried to drink.
Well, Blackdog is now living with ChloŽ in the Sanctuary, and will soon have a plaque, thanks to Ron Marke. Flea is used to living alone, and obviously does not value the company, anyway, so she will remain in our own enclosures around the house.
Things seem to be working well - neither has shown any aggression to the other, tho' Blackdog gets into moods where he wants to play vigorously, and I think he has given ChloŽ a fright on a couple of occasions.
When I first put Blackdog in with ChloŽ, I don't think he realised he could eat without harassment, and he quickly dipped his head into the feed, and back out again, the first time he tried to eat in there.
He now looks a lot less downtrodden and a li'l sleeker, so the change had been for the better.
This is progressing slowly, and we are hoping that a commitment from the Society's research funds will help Alan Wilton's lab. secure additional funds and assistance for the project by getting the government to kick in under one of the many funding schemes. Other organisations aiming to promote the preservation of the Dingo can help, too, if they have funds to do so, and we hope they will.
While we will be continuing with microsatellites at the lab, this year we will be using comparative anchor tag sequences as well, which look at more conserved sequences within genes. The gods of the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) are indeed fickle, and even ardent prayer does not always move them, but it appears I have got the appropriate incantations right, and we are getting product. So, we will have some results in the next few weeks or so, I hope.
The program of Dingo sponsorship is going well, with even more sponsorships this quarter. Also, a big thankyou to Supercoat, who have donated two pallets of dog food to us. This will allow more of our valuable resources to go to research for the good of the breed. More on back page!
Well, we have received the new quote from the builder, and so our reception centre upgrade will finally be on the rails in about three weeks!!
Now, something I need to clear up. I mentioned in the last issue the possibility of doing a li'l dog boarding, as a service to members - particularly those who have fostered dogs from us. It seems there has been some confusion.
First, let me explain that we have no entirely satisfactory place to put sick dogs if they need to be kennelled separately. Inevitably, every time we have built a new enclosure, it has been filled. Furthermore, we have no suitable wash area. I have been using the Hydrobath in the garage, but it is in the way there. Finally, now we have a veritable mountain of dry dog food in there, too, with no way of keeping vermin out other than poisoning.
So, the idea is to redevelop the area in which we have the dilapidated kennel eyesore facing the parking area into a treatment/wash/feed storage/general storage area with four small attached indoor/outdoor enclosures where we can install heating inside for sick dogs, and keep treatments in a central place. To help with a little cash flow, and avoid these enclosures being filled with residents, I thought we could also do a little boarding as a service to members.
... or same time 29 March 1998 if weather unsuitable on 22nd. Please let us know if you can come!! We need you!! Some sort of free tucker in the form of light refreshments will be supplied!
It is great to see that more than half the members who were financial last year have already rejoined!! This is better than last year's effort, though not quite as good as the early flush we had in 1996. Timely payment helps us continue to develop our centre, expand our educational programs, broaden our research, and generally keep morale up. In return, I am gradually getting Merigal back to schedule.
Do you know, we could well have most of the capital works on the Sanctuary proper (where the Dingoes are on display to visitors) complete, this year? This will be a huge achievement. So please get your membership renewals in ... it all helps!