Scentpost

July 1996

Newsletter of the Australian Native Dog Conservation Society Limited

590 Arina Road (PO Box 91), Bargo, NSW, 2574 Australia 'phone +61 46 841 156 fax +61 46 841 156

e-mail - merigal@zip.com.au

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Coo-ee, All!

... And a rather belated one, I confess. Berenice has been in hospital for nearly two months, and there's been a lot to do. So, I'm a little further behind with Merigal than usual.

This issue will be story-time. Hope you enjoy it! Thanks to those who contributed photoes and test. Usually, I'd have a little greater technical content - back to normal next-time.

Most of you would be interested to know that Berenice had a fall in early July and has been in hospital since then. She will be home before the end of August, if all goes according to plan.

The story is typical of several on news and current affairs programs on television lately. After Berenice fell, we called an ambulance. She was duly taken to the infamous emergency section at Campbelltown hospital where she was assessed and told she would have to go home again as there were no beds.

Christine (Berenice's daughter) and I went in to pick Berenice up. She was in some pain, and unable to stand or sit up. Fortunately, ward staff saw her condition and complained to the medicos, and a bed was found for her at the nearby Camden hospital, where she has been ever since.

The interesting fact is that Berenice obviously was not properly assessed before being discharged the first time ...

Weather Conditions and Grounds

After some very cold and miserable weather, we are experiencing spring-like conditions. Warmer weather bodes well for our gardens, but it's been rather dry. Grass has turned brown in the drier patches, but is growing vigorously in others. Despite the warmer weather, we are keeping the combustion stove charged. A cold snap or three is a virtual certainty before conditions warm up around Christmas. Hopefully a warm and wet spring will bring all the hard work beautifying the grounds to fruition.

Capital Works

We have recently taken delivery of a transportable building which will become our new entrance. It replaces part of the decaying Wooleston accommodation which ugly sight greeted visitors as they pulled into the Sanctuary carpark.

With Council approval, we expect to put power and telephone on and move at least part of our shop there. This will mean I can continue to work while waiting for visitors.

Recently, we spent quite a bit of money refurbishing the Dingo accommodation with major benefits to canine residents and us. The new, more secure enclosures have essentially restricted escapes to human error (an issue which will need to be addressed in volunteer training), and have provided the Dingoes with more space and behavioural satisfaction when left to themselves. The self-watering system installed largely by Laurie Winney and myself continues to save time and effort and provide cool, clean water to the Dingoes at all times.

Now we need to focus on visitor facilities and the front entrance. This will help us generate a cash flow from our own efforts, while furthering our educational program.

Another issue, with neighbours to be resident on our north-eastern boundary, will be noise. We may need to look at solid fencing along this boundary to curtail the level of noise affecting our north-eastern neighbours.

Kadoka

With all the chaos lately, I was somewhat shocked to receive a call from Carol Bach, who handles transactions at Taronga Zoo asking when we'd be taking Kadoka. Kadoka is the last of the New Guinea Wild Dogs which were formerly resident at the Taronga facility. After what seemed interminable negotiations, we were finally to get him.

I was concerned about taking this dog. Being a newcomer to the Merigal pack, I was concerned that he'd be a target for any of the Dingoes who would treat him as an intruder.

Carol informed me that Kadoka was currently living in a concrete enclosure in the vet. block at Taronga Zoo. After some discussion with member, Pam Hartley, we agreed that we could provide him with accommodation of similar kind or better here while we organised accommodation for him, and he could be walked, too, so we agreed to take Kadoka without delay.

A Tuesday in late August was the big day, and Taronga staff delivered the little dog about mid-morning. To begin with, we let him out of his transport crate in the old Wooleston accommodation where I've isolated 'Magic on occasions. He wasn't terribly impressed.

Then Taronga staff walked him to the dam while we all got photographs. Finally, keeping a careful eye on the five groups of residents on its border, we tried him in the stockyard paddock behind the house, locking Aussie-Host up in the old area. Other than a bit of testosterone-induced bravado from Koori, all went fine.

Well, it was clear that 'Hostie couldn't stay locked up on a long-term basis, but should we try her with Kadoka? We'd already pushed the pace a little by putting him in a paddock with five groups of residents on its boundary. Anyway, we tried 'Hostie and Kadoka together and no problems. Actually, they both seem to mooch about happily doing their own thing for the most part.

So, some major hurdles relating to Kadoka's settling in were cleared in a few hours, we got some nice media stuff with the help of Pam Down, Pam Hartley competently held the fort as usual, efficiently attending to the kennel responsibilities, and everything went better than expected.

On the downside, Kadoka has turned out to be the biggest whinger for the time being. (exasperated sigh) But he usually does settle down when no-one is about, and is a great PR dog as he is very friendly with visitors, when he can get his mind off having a walk!

Puppies

Fortunately, all has gone well with this years breeding, err ... contraception program. Although both Shadow, and her daughter, Lasca had break-through oestruses and mated (Lasca to her brother Mandawuy, too! ), neither has conceived and so our breeding or, again, more accurately, contraception :-) program remains on track.

Nardoo's puppies have been vaccinated and wormed and are preparing for their trip to Western Plains Zoo, where they will further the educational aims of the Society.

They all appear to be very outgoing. Word from WPZ is that socialisation will continue with some basic training.

At this stage, we are not breeding Dingoes for sale or to give away. Basically we have bred to maintain our own breeding colony lines. We are happy to place surplus puppies in good homes, but these seem so hard to find. I certainly don't want to create more of the very problems we are so desperately trying to prevent by flogging off Dingo puppies willy-nilly.

Personally, I think if Dingoes are not preserved in the wild, then they are finished. A species set adrift from its habitat and the selection criteria which created it is essentially extinct. Captive breeding programs are a legitimate stop-gap measure, but shouldn't be used to justify the continuing grab for living space at the expense of cohabitants on this planet. Anyway, enough of the soapboxing. Suffice it to say we will not have any surplus puppies this year.

Research

DNA extraction continues from blood samples taken from a mix of domestic dog breeds. Samples from Dingoes and hybrids have been supplied by Barry Oakman, and will be withdrawn from our Dingoes over the next fes days. Healesville Sanctuary has promised further samples.

We have a box of assorted dog primers which we will be trying out to see which give the best information. I have been refered by a number of sources to overseas work which has progressed along similar lines and where over one hundred domestic dog breeds in the US have been examined. Dr I L Brisbin of S. Carolina, USA has also promised samples.

Tourism and Extension Work

This has the benefits of helping us generate a cashflow and no matter what people say about good publicity, cashflow is the lifeblood of business. It's truly marvellous how one's altruistic opinion to the various efforts relating to the Dingo changes when one is no longer merely donating time and funds from one's surplus. Can you see now why I might seem (in the opinion of some, anyway) a little materialistically oriented regarding Society activities? I've put a lot of myself into this place so I've got strong motivation to make sure it doesn't go down the drain.

Visitations have continued at an encouraging level. Very few weekends now deliver no visitors, which is encouraging. The tour coach side could be worked on, and now that our facilities are on the improve, I think we are really developing something to sell. Of course, the appeal is always going to be limited, because of the specialised nature of our facility.

I had the comment recently, "So whaddya got? Dogs? Just dogs? Is that all?" Unfortunately, these ratbags decided they would pay for a tour, and wandered through with the most singular lack of interest I've seen in my fourteen years here. Oh well, can't please 'em all. :-(

Livestock

"At last," you say. Well, it's obvious by now that we have been playing canine musical chairs as usual. The idea is first to get pairs together who get on, then to get the best-socialised pairs to the front of the property. This makes for a more settled kennel (err ... sanctuary) when visitors arrive.

It's obvious by now that 'Magic and 'Hostie are no longer together. 'Hostie is with Kadoka, and all is well for the present, although I saw a little spat today. (gulp!) Fingers crossed everyone!

'Magic is in the cowyard, where you'd expect all good cattle-dogs to be. She has been trying to put it over Flea, and has been soundly told off for her trouble. All seems quiet with our three in the cowyard at present. I hope to have enough funds to upgrade their area personally, soon.

Teena now lives with Koori, and they both seem to get on well.

Everyone seems to have been in a digging frenzy lately. Romulus and Oola, Shadow and Yothu and Bloomfield and Daintree. All females involved are entire - perhaps they are just being hopeful! It's too late, girls!! :-)

Wattie is getting braver and is occasionally out when small, quiet groups of visitors are present. Some of the Dingoes seem to settle down once they get to three or four - equivalent to the early thirties in humans. Wattie is four.

ZoŽ is still sharp and fiery. She delights in demonstrating the bark which Dingoes aren't meant to have. Europeans first arriving in Australia reported occasional barking in Dingoes, as does the CSIRO, but, yes, it is rare and sounds different to domestic dog barking.

With the end of the breeding season ZoŽ, a real Jekyll and Hyde character has settled down somewhat and has been giving poor Remus a better time.

Remus seems to have become really spooked by anyone speaking to him from inside the Society building. If you talk to him from the window, he'll run around his enclosure as though he is hearing ghosts.

Harry has come into a coat like a bear. (Taronga) Yindi, Harry's mate (and nearly twice his age) still looks like she'll live forever, despite being thirteen this year.

Shadow and Yothu are residing in the new enclosure, formed by dividing Bloomfield's and Daintree's. All seem to be getting on well down there, but Shadow had learned to pick the inadequate gate latch. Dennis Clifton has been effecting repairs.

Snowdrift, Nardoo and family have moved to where Shadow and Yothu used to live. Lasca and Mandawuy are in Sonwdrift's old yard. Everybody else is in the same spot for now, if that makes sense.

Volunteer Program

Things are gradually coming together on this front. The idea of the Member Resource Survey was to get together an organised database of what people could do. So to anyone I said doesn't need to send it in, please do, even if you are a regular visitor.

Now, some of you are going to say, "I told you I could do this, that or the other thing." Yes, but when. Down the paddock when I was busy helping move dogs, or just as I was answering the 'phone. Etc. etc. You see what I mean. Look, I'm a normal human being and I forget what people tell me casually. So this is your chance to tell us when we can make sure it is recorded for posterity.

Another thing to bear in mind is that you may well have offered to do something and not been approached. That does not mean you're being ignored. If you are an expert Dingo brain surgeon, for example, it could just be that we don't need a Dingo brain surgeon right now. So give me a break, please! No one is being discriminated against.

Communication and Info. Technology

As mentioned previously, I have some pages up on the Web about our Dingo Sanctuary. The URL is http://www.zip.com.au/~merigal

These are very much under construction, so expect continual, if sometimes infrequent changes and improvements.

I am *happy* to receive any copy for our Journal by e-mail and if you have a scanner, you can attach scans of relevant pictures in any of the common graphics formats. It's so easy to cut and paste.

Anything on disc in ASCII or common WP formats is fine (just text, thanks, no little nasties - we'll be checking!). Typewritten text, especially in non-serifed fonts (eg. Arial) is cool - we can scan it and use our OCR software to convert it. Handwritten stuff is a bit of a drag, but I'll NEVER refuse good copy. Do please write clearly though, 'cos although I've become an expert at deciphering Berenice's disasterous handwriting, some people's really takes the cake.

Big thanks to anyone who has contributed recently - the more you contribute, the less you'll have to put up with my ravings!

Oh, and one final comment. Always try and send a graphic, especially if you are writing about canine pals. The sharper and more contrast, the better. There's a limit to the magic one can work with image processing software.

Media

Nothing huge, but a few interesting bits and pieces including some snippets about our Perth Dingoes, the library visit at Camden by 'Dusty, and some on Kadoka and Nardoo's pups.

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