Scentpost - October 1998

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

200 Plus!

      For the first time ever, we have broken the two hundred member barrier, with a current financial membership of just over 210. Growth will give us a greater voice on behalf of Dingoes and more resources with which to achieve our preservation and education goals.
     On the other hand, I always worry that some will read good news as an excuse to "drop the bundle". We still have a very long way to go and need all the support we can get. A big thanks, in particular, to our long term members who've stood by us for so many years!

We Win Again!

     Our team of dedicated gardeners, spearheaded by Elizabeth Smith, continue to make our facility worthy of the name "Sanctuary". In fact, native birds undoubtedly make more noise here overall than do the Dingoes! The Sanctuary would be much diminished without the natural looking gardens where we display our canine residents.
     For all the effort, we again received a nice trophy for 1st prize in the 1988 Wollondilly Community Garden section and a hundred dollars to spend at Downes' Wholesale Nursery. Thanks all!

Tax Deductibility

     The required amendments to Articles and Memorandum were passed at the EGM following DingoFest on 18 October this year. A third of our membership participated, indicating a very high level of interest. Things are looking extremely positive BUT ...
     ... if you are wanting to contribute to the proposed gift fund, please hang onto your chequebooks a li'l longer! There is a process which needs to be followed and this may take a while. We are well on the way, but we are not quite there just yet.

Weddings, Parties ... Everything!

     Members Sharon and Uen Bailey were married right here at the Sanctuary on August 1. It was a delightful day (so I am told) with wattles in full bloom, and probably the only dry day for weeks. Another Dingo Sanctuary first! Congratulations Sharon and Uen!!

Overseas Extension

     While Sharon and Uen were being married, I had just arrived in California. It is one of the advantages of being an organisation where effort is collective that we can cover a lot more ground than were we to be a one person band.
     Our regular volunteers, with hearts of gold as they have, ensured all our canine residents were fed, watered, walked, scooped after, cared for, and loved while I was away from the Sanctuary. From all who benefited, both four legged and two legged, a great big THANKYOU!!

ACDCA National Specialty

     First stop was the Hilton Oxnard in California, where the Australian Cattle Dog Club of America was holding its National Specialty.
     Beginning last year, ACDCA's International Committee has annually organised the Ancestral Class to run alongside fundraising efforts for the ACD breed. The Ancestral Class is a nice PR event just for us and raises money to support ACDCA's sponsored dog, Oola.
     There is a lot of difference between an ACD and a Dingo, of course, but I think I managed credibly enough to place three ACDs in this Dingo look-alike contest.
     That over (whew!), I was scheduled to speak to interested Specialty attendees at 7.30 PM. From the turn-out at the previous speaker's session, I figured I would get about thirty people. But as my time to speak drew near, the doors opened and the crowd more than doubled.
     I also showed Trust a Dingo which drew a good response, especially the noisy cattle-dog which insisted on having a say in an interview despite Berenice's admonitions.
     Predictably, the Australian dollar had chosen the time of my US visit to plumb historic lows against the Greenback, so big thankyous to, first, the ACDCA which gave me complimentary entry to all the functions that week and also, to Kathy Buetow who, having won free accommodation last year at the hotel for that week, invited me to share her suite.
     My next speaking engagement was on the East Coast, to which I travelled by road via Larry and Marilyn Painters' in Cleveland, MO ... and the Rocky Mountain National Park. Their kindness and hospitality was very much appreciated. Larry runs herding training classes and his quiet advice and patient style make him a natural teacher.
     Steve Ware did an excellent job of driving all the way from Southern California to Pennsylvania - right across the country. The last leg was a particularly gruelling twenty-two hours by which stage all I cared about was finding somewhere to sleep! That place was the Hotters' who at that time shared their home with two Australian Cattle Dogs (naturally) a Schipperke and a wolf-dog. Sadly, Navarre has since died. His story is not the common wolf-dog story of fragile egos and status symbols and, if I can get it, will make a very enlightening read, I am sure.

The National Zoo, Washington, DC

     Member, Monica Shifflet, and Kyle Sibinovic put me up in Frederick, MD while I prepared for my next speaking engagement for the Smithsonian Institution at the National Zoo in Washington, DC. About a hundred people turned up for the talk, which was pretty good for weeknight in mid summer with what turned out to be short notice. Quite a number of people stayed afterwards to ask questions - always a good indicator of interest.
     Many thanks to our pro bono publicist, Marcia Landau, of Burkland Associates in Virginia, for lining this one up!
     The two weeks I spent on the East Coast we visited as many of our supporters and other interested people as we could. Went walking in the Shenandoah National Park with Patty Lane on a blisteringly hot day in Virginia, visited Marcia Landau, who helps us with publicity locally, visited Alice Messina, our latest overseas Dingo sponsor, and toured DC at night with Matthew and Wendy Plache, who recently visited the Sanctuary on their honeymoon.

Bull Run ACD Club

     On 30 August, I spoke again at a Bull Run Australian Cattle Dog Club function for some of the East Coasters who did not make the National Specialty. This regional Club sponsors Jarrah and has sold a tremendous amount of merchandise for us in the United States.
     By this time, I had been in the US for four weeks, and I still had to get in some wolf stuff! So the following day, Monica and I headed west through PA, bound for Minnesota and the International Wolf Center.

Fort Wayne Children's Zoo

      On the way to the IWC, we planned to visit Fort Wayne Children's Zoo where we have a contact (now new member) Vicki Ferren. The Zoo has some really impressive exhibits set up along a geographic theme including an African savannah, a south east Asian rainforest, and an Australian section. We know how much work goes into preparing such displays! Educational aspects were well covered.
     Zoo staff kindly gave us free admission. Indeed, the Americans were very good about this, generally. We soon met up with Vicki, who took us to see the Zoo's resident Dingoes.
     Fort Wayne Zoo has three. An old male with a beautiful, alpine coat was still doing well at fifteen years of age. I think this was a credit to the staff! The sole female, at twelve, ran with a young dog, who was two. Vicki , how about some photoes and a story? Please?!
     I thought the Dingo enclosure was as spacious as most of ours ... and it had a pond! Ooooh, I want one or two of those here! They also had comfortable indoor quarters which I would like to emulate for our treatment facility. Hmmm ... should'a gotten some photoes, shouldn't I?
     From there, it was not a long drive to our other destination in the State of Indiana, which was ...

WOLF PARK

     When we arrived, there was no one in sight, but we soon found our way to the office, where we met up with Pat Goodman, Monty Sloan and Jill Moore. Sadly, Dr Erich Klinghammer, founder of the organisation, who kindly hosted Berenice's visit there eleven years ago, was overseas.
     It is always a humbling experience to be introduced to someone else's pack. The first thing you realise is that you have no status.
     Living with the Dingoes here, I know that they will defer to my commands, and I feel comfortable around them.
     The wolves were making me uncomfortable. They kept rearing up, planting their paws on my shoulders, and staring right into my face with those pale eyes in a very challenging manner! With memories of Snowdrift's recent behaviour in mind, that was decidedly unpleasant.
     It was cooling off, and humans and canines all seemed a bit edgy in the small holding yard. I got the distinct impression that both were carefully assessing this stranger (me). It felt like a kind of initiation!
     So I was glad I did not have to leave with that as my only impression of the Park. We were very kindly invited back the next day for a photo session with some of WOLF PARK's interns.
     This time, we were in the main enclosure, where there was more space, and the late summer sun was already quite warm. All the wolves seemed a lot more settled, those who bothered to come over lazing in the sun, or calmly checking out the scents of their visitors just as our Dingoes would.
     I was amazed to find that several puppies which bounded over and were as large as some of our larger Dingoes, were only four to five months of age! They sure do grow fast!
     Later we spoke to Jill, briefly to Monty, and others, getting a little background and swapping thoughts. This turned out to be the only place we met the wolves face to face (literally!), a very valuable experience I won't soon forget! Just writing about it immediately takes me back with racing heart, watering eyes and butterflies in my stomach!
     Check out their site @ www.wolfpark.org ...

The International Wolf Center

     It was only a short journey from WOLF PARK to Kathy Buetow's place in the university town of Champaign, Illinois. We made it in only three hours or so, and spent the night there, before heading north to Ely, Minnesota.
     Kathy's was the last place where I had access to Internet Relay Chat to keep in touch with goings on. Now we were on our own! ... And the trip was quickly coming to an end.
     The route north through Wisconsin into Minnesota took a couple of days driving, and Ely was packed out, accommodation-wise. But we were able to find a place to stay in a somewhat ramshackle, but clean enough place in town.
     The IWC looks impressive. Stone and wood exterior, big, glass doors, metal wolf pack sculpture outside. But for all that, arrangements inside were surprisingly informal! There were tours along several different themes and you just signed your name in the book, paid your dough, and waited by the big, stone fireplace for the tour leader to collect you!
     We booked everything we could, of course - introductory seminar, What's for Dinner? (where you get invited to the resident pack's weekly meal of roadkill - yum!) Wolves and Beavers (an interpretative field trip) and a senses trail, run at night. These were all capably run by naturalists Barry Muchnick and Amy Chinitz. And, of course, we checked out the substantial museum.
     Did you know that a human can bite with a pressure of 300 psi, a domestic dog with 750 psi and a wolf with 1 500 psi? Fifteen hundred pounds per square inch is the equivalent of the kind of pressure you'd experience at the pointy end of a Volkswagen Bug balanced on a broomstick. Serious stuff!
     The International Wolf Center is primarily concerned with advising on wolf management in its home state of MN, and it was of concern to hear that with wolf numbers recovering, protection for wolves there could be downgraded.
     The IWC has a site @ (predictably! ) www.wolf.org ...
     After a late, but stimulating, night at the IWC, we retired to our motel room, ready to head south for Missouri the next day. Only five days left, and somehow I had to fit in a trip to the Wild Canid Survival and Research Center's Wolf Sanctuary!

Wolf Sanctuary

     Here, I owe a big thanks to Debbie Causevic, who kindly agreed to take us on a tour of the WCSRC's facility, Wolf Sanctuary, in Eureka, MO. This was literally hours before I had to leave for California to connect with my flight back to Sydney.
     There we got to see a variety of wild canids, including Mexican wolves, which WCSRC is helping release into the wild. The facility itself is allocated fifty acres on Washington University's 2 000 acre Tyson Research Center, and most of the accommodation consists of well vegetated enclosures of two to three acres or more.
     I thought it was interesting to compare the management of a facility which was geared to release, with ours, where none of the residents are scheduled for release. The effort we put into socialising with humans would be completely out of place, there.
     Got heaps of information and, again, they gave us complimentary entry which was much appreciated. They have a site at www.wolfsanctuary.org ...

The Horror Leg

     That night, I was booked on a Greyhound bus bound for Los Angeles. Know how far it is from St Louis, MO, to LA? About eighteen hundred miles. Supposedly forty-one hours by bus. Forty one jarring, sleepless hours.
     Supposedly ...
     It would be cathartic to detail that journey of despair and abject desolation, but space does not permit such indulgence. Suffice it to say, somewhere along Interstate 40, after twenty four hours grinding dismally along endless bitumen, repeated stops in dingy bus depots notable only for their drab austerity and dodgy locations, accompanied through most of Missouri by a wildly convulsing, choking, Afro-American man with what I can only imagine must be the worst case of sleep apnoea in the Mid-West ... I had a revelation. I was going to miss my flight.
     Pam Morton, one of the organisers of the ACDCA National Specialty, had given me a wad of Abbott phonecards, bless her heart! Enough time on each to make a thirteen minute call from a payphone inside the US and a six minute call to Australia. So, in a depot in Albuquerque, New Mexico, I desperately started making calls.
     Without going into detail, a combination of phone calls, a query on the Australian Cattle Dog electronic mailing list, and the help of the Hotters and Denise Frick, landed me in the li'l desert town of Blythe, California, waiting for a lift to Brawley. The bus driver had looked at me with concern and surprise as I informed him I was going to get off in that tiny town in the California desert.
     I sat outside McDonald's with a medium Coke. The desert sun got hotter (can reach 125 F there). I ordered a large Coke. Whew!
     Finally Denise arrived in pick-up complete with cattle-dog. A call to the airline soon had me a replacement flight two days later. I won't detail the wait at LAX in a queue 350 yards long when the airline check-in computer broke down, the excruciatingly boring flight back, or the clenched teeth of the flight attendants while approaching Kingsford-Smith as we looked like we could all be going for an early morning dip in Botany Bay!
     S'pose I should say at this point I am glad to be back. And, I am, of course! But I did get a case of post-travel blues, too. You know, when you feel really reflective and uncommunicative. And the floor tiles looked really weird - as if they were new. It was so strange. I think I've only just recovered!
     First thing I did was go around all our canine residents to give a big hug to those who allow themselves to be hugged. What did they get up to while I was away? They weren't telling, but here is a brief note on their deeds and misdeeds since I have been back!

Dingo Deeds

     Recent weather has turned rather autumny, which does not worry me because I don't like the heat. It is also keeping a lid on fleas and flies. Everyone had been done with Frontline, anyway, and despite dropping mountains of coat, there is nothing to suggest any scratching is going on.
     Some muzzle mutilation has occurred from mosquito bites, but it is mostly under control with fly ointment.

Harry and Willie

     Sadly, Yindi was recently euthanased when her health deteriorated further. She was fifteen. With Harry now on his own, I thought Harry and Willie might make a good pair ... Wrong!
     It all started out alright. Though I thought Willie looked a li'l nervous of Harry (we originally thought it would be the other way around), they both seemed to get on OK.
     But things blew up, as they so often do, when bones had been fed out. I had just got back from giving expert witness in the NSW Supreme Court on a dog bite case (no Dingo involved). I could hear a strange barking going on. When I went to see what was happening, I saw Willie bailed up at the gate with Harry stalking around menacingly. Most un-Harrylike!
     Although we tried providing other accommodation arrangements together in the hope they would get over it, Willie was obviously very stressed and is currently resident in one of our cattle-dog enclosures behind the house. She comes out into the Sanctuary when we move other dogs for a run in the one acre paddock behind the Sanctuary.

Oola

     Much as we love her, Oola really tried our patience by deciding to batter on the door to be let in at 3 AM one morning recently. I think they call it "the straw that broke the camel's back".
     It has been obvious that the lack of discipline in locking her up at night has resulted in her becoming more and more pushy and we just had to draw the line.
     Currently, Oola is living with Harry most of the time, and the two seem to be doing well, even when bones are fed out.
     Of course, she is still given visiting rights, and these are contingent on her behaving herself. Timing evictions with misdemeanours is shaping her behaviour wonderfully to the point where when she is not inside, she is almost invisible! She is a different dog altogether!

Romulus and Bindi

     Both had some "fun" when they managed to slip out their gate recently and frolic around the Sanctuary with visitors present. End result was that Bindi bit Romulus in all the excitement and he is currently on amoxycillin for an abscess. I was surprised, because they really get on well, just about all the time. No doubt it was accidental and Rommy's head is looking a lot better already.

Snowdrift

     ... like Oola, is a different dog lately outside the breeding season. All the excessive protective behaviour has subsided to the point where he had to be carried in my arms when he was on parade at the recent DingoFest. What a baby!

Final Word and Membership Renewals

     That'll have to be it for this issue. But I have a stack more I've had to hold over for the next.
     Again, we are at that end of the year when you get to vote on our performance with your wallets or purses. We would not be human if we had not inadvertently disappointed some, and I can only hope all see beyond the personal to the overall goals of the organisation, where we continue to make encouraging progress.
     That said, one huge contribution you can make now at absolutely no extra cost is merely to renew your membership on time. Hope to c-ya all next year!!