Or is it? It should be. But Shadow sure has been behaving strangely! More later ...
Winter has indeed been a li'l "different, too. Mild, sunny days with cool, crisp air are very pleasant indeed. But they sure make those blasts of real winter, with snow (!) and the works, harder to bear when they come! Last summer, I commented on the amount of dead wood accumulating in and around the Sanctuary. So, a BIG thanks to Craig Blanch of Southern Tree Care, in Glossop Street, Towradgi, who put in a huuuuuge day's work getting down dead trees leaning menacingly over our fences. Now we'll have less potential wildfire fuel in summer, too.
The crash of that mighty, dead ironbark at the back of the property was earth-shaking. And some pretty sad-looking, borer-eaten, black wattles soon followed it. All ended up as neatly cut piles of wood which George and I have stacked up for firewood. And all done for the price of a cold stubby and a chat ! Thanks Craig!
Craig and his wife have recently started up a self-titled adventure tour business (Craig and Kay's) and we hope we may be entertaining some of their passengers as visitors in the near future.
Now, a question. What's frass? Anyone know? Answer at the end of this newsletter!* See, it was an educational day as well! :-)
All the hard work put into upgrading the grounds is being wonderfully consolidated through the efforts of our volunteers. The attractive, vinyl flooring in reception has been complemented with a marvellous painting effort by George Parker and our new, tastefully- coloured building is open for business!
Randall Press has installed security lighting on the building, which bathes our reception in a bronzey glow at night. This will also make it obvious that we are open for business.
Currently, George is painting the "Dingo Hut" or more formally, the meeting hall. The colours, dream pink with watermelon trim, really brighten the building, but are apparently a bone of contention in some quarters. I think part of the problem is the bits remaining in the old colour which clash with the new work. We are putting new blinds over the windows and with the floor sanded back and stained and fittings back to their usual spots, it will look a lot better.
Next painting job will be the outside of the Dingo Hut to lighten the colour. This will nake the building a lot cooler in summer and save some effort by a/c inside the building.
On a recent Sunday, I got a bee in my bonnet about moving the drinks fridge. Tried to wheel it out the door - hmmm ... nnnope! Too tall. The next day, Ron Marke hired a trolley jack and Ron, George and myself assisted by Margo, Mary, Elizabeth and Peg started moving the fridge. What an effort! (I have bruises to prove it!)
The thing would not tip back on the trolley-jack because with its height, it would snag on the ceiling. So we had to tilt it carefully on its castors to get it through the door. Carpet hurriedly laid down on the path outside the building protected the shiny bits on the bottom of the unit.
We decided to go up the closer ramp onto the veranda. Bad idea. The fridge was too tall for the veranda and what followed was an excruciating effort, getting the darned thing around the four foot wide side section to the front of the building. In short, I apologise for language during that time which was in less than good taste. With the merchandise and displays up there, too, I think it all looks pretty flash!
Shoulder bags, tea towels and aprons are selling well. In fact, we just sent ten of the shoulder bags to the US, and only have orange ones left, as far as I can see. So it won't be long before we are right out of them.
While we buy in our shirts and a lot of other merchandise ready for sale, the bags, aprons and tea towels have remained things that were finihsed off by Sanctuary volunteers. There has been sewing, ironing and, in the past, screen printing, too.
In recent years, the volunteer who has shouldered the responsibility for that has been Roddie Blucher. She has also liaised with manufacturers and organised materials. Quite a bit of work, when you add it up!
As it looks like we will not be continuing any of these lines, I think the time is right to offer special thanks for all the assistance in this regard. Thanks Roddie!
Oola got out of the Sanctuary again. This time it happened after one of the HomeCare ladies attending to Berenice chained the gate, but did not latch it properly. This happens sometimes when the gate is shut hard and the latch bounces open again.
Berenice's son, Ken, saw Oola in Reservoir Road, and tried to coax her. Oola bolted for home. Just as well. We did not even know she had been out. The problem with the gate has been rectified by Ron Marke.
Shadow and Koori
I can't remember whether I mentioned it, but we decided not to use contraceptives on Shadow this year. She absolutely despises them and lets me know by threatening to bite my arm off.
We are also hoping for some more offspring from her, as she is of excellent type, but aging, and we want to use a male other than Yothu. Teena, much to her disgust, was returned to her former partner, Yothu, while Shadow duly came into season and had three matings to a, errr ... short, dark stranger (Koori)!
Three matings? Yes - something of an anticlimax. Continual matings over the heat period are nore normal, so we immediatly had some suspicions about the affair. In fact, I confess I recently double checked Koori to make sure he had all the necessary equipment!!
Because Koori is shy, and we rarely handle him closely, we don't regularly get a chance to examine him. Yes, I had a few nervous moments wondering if he had been desexed! Fortunately, he had not If so, boy, would I have had egg on my face!
About a week or so before she was due to whelp, Shadow's "pregnancy" was decidedly unconvincing. In fact, in comparison to her appearance at that time prior to her other litters, she looked positively petite. "Oh well," we thought - perhaps she does not have many this time. She is getting on a bit."
Shadow looked a bit off colour. She began scent marking, males began again to become interested in her. It was at this time, Snowdrift became really toey again, and threatened me. Shadow's belly looked unremarkable indeed for a pregnant female.
As we were hoping to get footage of Shadow giving birth to her puppies for a documentary, we were disappointed, fairly sure now that she was having a false pregnancy.
Ever hopeful, we moved Shadow and her mate, Koori, to the relatively naturally vegetated, one acre paddock, where we thought she might dig a den. Several calls to various wood suppliers uncovered a suitable semi-burned, half-domed, premium denning log which would be idea for filming. Time dragged on. The Sunday on which she was first due came and went. No desire to dig a den. Last time, she had been desperate to go to earth. Finally, we had to confirm what we were already almost positive was a false pregnancy . On Wednesday morning, Margo caught Shadow and we took her up to the car. I was curious and a little concerned as to how she would react to being encouraged into the back seat, but need not have worried. This wild-born Dingo, with mild leash encouragement only, hopped up onto the back seat of the car and Margo got in after her.
Using an ultrasound machine, colleague, Dr Andrew O'Shea very patiently examined Shadow, who behaved marvellously the whole time. Some fluid distention of the uterus. In general, all looked healthy. But no sign of puppies. He then reported the disappointing news. Shadow was not pregnant. Disappointing, yes, but not necessarily a disaster. Of course, she may have another season and late puppies, though this is doubtful. We will see.
Snowdrift has challenged me on a number of occasions lately. I know he has been upset at seeing Koori and Shadow mating, while his female has not come into season. Now, it appears, Shadow may have come into season again. Snowdrift has investigated Nardoo hopefully, but no joy.
Snowy is intuitive enough to put two and two together. I guess it appears this way ...
Every time Nardoo appears to be coming into season, I take her out, take her aside, she squeaks, and then rapidly goes out of season. Heaven knows what Snowdrift thinks I am doing to his mate, but he knows who is doing it and that it deprivies him of what he thinks are his rights. Though the breeding season has essentially ended, he is taking measures to keep me away from Nardoo - just in case.
It has gotten to a stage where we have had to plan to desex Snowdrift. If he is going to misbehave with me, who is going to be able to attend to him on a regular basis?
Meanwhile, Echo and Humpty-Two have been behaving in a rather more masculine way lately. I suspect they feel Snowdrift's dominance waning and are responding to that. He is ten, afterall. It's a bit sad to see, and I am sure this all adds to his frustration. I wonder who our new alpha will be, if anyone? Not all Dingoes are alpha material.
Teena and Yothu
Yothu has considered fraternising with his old flame, Shadow, on the fence, now she is in the one acre paddock. Shadow had a litter by him three years ago.
I suspect Teena considers herself Yothu's first love (they were together as puppies) and she has made it quite certain Yothu must not get any ideas about that sexy Dingo on the other side of the fence! There was a bit of a skirmish, but all seems to have quietened down again.
Without wishing to trivialise injury to any of our canine residents, something odd happened to Humpty-Two between Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning, and he is not telling. A small, clean deficit appeared on one of his lips on Tuesday morning. The wound was so neat and clean, it reminded me of one of those incidents reported in cattle that have been attributed to extraterrestrials, though on a much smaller scale. Only a small piece of tissue was missing.
The wound clearly did not warrant surgical intervention, and with granulation and contraction, the it has essentially resolved with minimal scarring. The most likely cause is sparring on the fence with Echo.
We again have boarders, this time, Dingoes, who have taken up residence in Willie's old accommodation, now with capping on its north-western boundary.
Recently, there was uproar in the Sanctuary. Heart-in-mouth, I raced for the door, wondering who was being killed.
Outside, Dingoes were leaping up the chainlink of their enclosures, turning back-flips in excitement. Others pawed at the fence, shrieking with savage glee.
The house dogs, boarders, and Amber and Gunda had all congregated in a corner, and were walking non-chalantly about, apparently innocent. Where was the fight?
I had more of a look about, but panting Dingoes, locked together in mortal combat, were nowhere to be seen.
Then the three participants enlightened me, by going back to work. The boarders must have left some hessian bedding close to the fence, and Gunda had managed to grab a corner and pull it through.
With Amber and Gunda on one side, and the boarders on the other, a vigorous tug-o'-war was going on. The sound of tearing hessian, accompanied by excited screaming of Dingoes, who no doubt thought it was prey, again started. Finally the bedding ripped in two, and I was able to pull the tempting remains out of the fence.
Our research efforts were given a valuable boost when Greg Acland was able to find time on a recent trip to Australia to visit the Dingo Sanctuary at the end of June. Dr Acland works at the University of Pennsylvania and at Cornell University where he and others are attempting to map genes which cause eye problems in dogs.
A couple of months before his visit, I e-mailed Greg to put to him the idea of examining some dog eyes here while he was in Australia. I was not sure whether the Dingoes would be enough to make it worthwhile for him to visit us, however, after discussion with Greg and others, it was agreed that restricting the day to Dingoes only would avoid treading on anyone's toes. As it turned out, we were fully occupied examining Dingoes.
I also promised to see if I could line up someone from network television to film some of the Dingoes being examined. About a month before th eproposed visit, I contacted Totally Wild and we were in business!
Just after lunch on Wednesday, 24 June, we received a call from the Totally Wild crew to say that they were in Bowral. Oops! But we soon got that problem ironed out - and they were here. Dr Acland appeared soon afterwards.
What a horrible day! Bitter southerly winds which had vwet ewxwbrkt been close to snow raked the Sanctuary.
Soon, gear was set up, and we were ready to film. Greg began to put drops in the Dingoes' eyes to dilate their pupils so he could get a clear view of their retinas.
All of a sudden, the film crew halted proceedings for a hurried conference. The camera had broken down. No back up. We had to stop filming. Fortunately, we were able to continue with proceedings the following day, thanks to Dr Acland's flexibility and some rearrangements to the filming schedule by the Totally Wild crew.
Highlight of the day was getting footage of Remus' retinas for national TV. This really was tricky. We had to line up lipstick camera, the scope on Greg's head, the mirror in his hand, and Remus' head! But it worked, thanks to patience in several quarters, including Remus, who was such a good boy! The segment will be shown on Channel Ten at 4.00pm on a weekday afternoon in the next few weeks.
While bookings often appear sparse in our diary, it is nice to know that inevitably the days fill up as each month draws closer.
In recent weeks, we have been pleased to host a number of groups from camera clubs to historical societies, to care clubs, and even the National Trust. We have received quite a bit of interest in further support from the latter. More next time.
The sponsorship program is going very nicely, with thirty of thirty-four Dingoes available for sponsorship having been sponsored. We are getting continuing interest within Australia and overseas, and are pleased to welcome a new sponsor from the UK this quarter!
Sponsorship means we know that the needs of our canine residents are accommodated and we can budget to allocate other income we receive, from visitors and merchandise sales, for instance, to achieving our public education goals. It also provides us with funds which do more for Dingoes than buy dog food. Accommodation is maintained and improved, giving our Dingoes more satisfying environments in which to live, and we are able to provide veterinary care and initiate and contribute to research which will benefit all Dingoes.
There are four Dingoes as yet unsponsored - Bloomfield and Coo-ee ... and Amber and Gunda, who are just waiting for their "cheque in the mail".
We have finalised our new domain name, www.dingosanctuary.org- and will be using this on contact information from now on.
Updates to the site have been hard to maintain because of increasing activity at the Sanctuary, however, our newsletter, Scentpost, is regularly posted to www.dingosanctuary.org/news.html - linked to the core page fro Mirri's image. More information on the Sanctuary has been added, based on information in the current brochure. All band-aid stuff, admittedly, but a redesign is on the way. Guess I am gonna have to sit down and organise some cute animations.
A list of sponsors has been put up on the Web - thanks to Peter Burgess for submitting corrections, apologies for our error, and we urge others to submit any corrections necessary to our list. Stories associated with sponsored Dingoes will also go up in due course.
Oh, and in trivial news, the Pentium is now online, so when I get some batteries for the cheap speakers we have for the time being, we will have sound.
Two new t-shirt designs have been added to the stock carried by the Society. These are made by Western Australian company, Aussie Themes. One design features two Dingo heads on a very dark navy or green background with the Sanctuary's name on it, while the other is a somewhat stylised wildlife collage on a steel blue background. We have sold almost half of our first order of fifty.
Don't forget our raffle of a night's stay for two at the Zoofari Lodge at Western Plains Zoo! You may remember Nardoo and Snowdrift have three two-year-old Dingo kids Mirri, Keli and Nara, there.
I know raffles can be a bother, and we do make a policy of asking (on your renewal form) before sending tickets. Those who are good at ticket selling to other people help spread the fundraising effort to take some of the load off the "old faithfuls" who usually get stuck with funding cash-flow deficits. You probably don't know how much those who regularly dip into their own pockets to help here appreciate that.
If you can help, please give us a call on our regular contact number. If you can't, no problem. If you live far away, well, what a great opportunity to come to NSW and perhaps pay us a visit as well! The timing of the prize is relatively flexible, so it could be included in a general tour to the state. Thanks to all who are currently helping with ticket sales!
Several enquiries have turned up since our mention of late renewals in the previous Journal. I think I have gotten around to replying to everyone, but if I haven't, I am sorry.
In any case, those who are unfinancial will either have already received, or will soon receive a reminder. I hope those remaining few pay outstanding memberships, or, at least do us the courtesy of informing us of their intentions re. membership. If you don't want to rejoin, it is really not very nice to keep accepting the Journal, with no intention of paying for it. Actually, company law requires you notify your resignation in writing, if that is your intention. Thanks again for past support from all, and continuing support from the great majority! :-)
*Frass is the sawdusty residue which falls out of tree-borer holes. So there you go!