Saturday, 5 August 2017

Extract: For the Love of a Dingo by Berenice Walters and Pamela King

This extract is from the first of the three stories in this book: Dora the Adorable Dingo by Berenice Walters. Edited by Pamela King.


Dora Arrives

“Our very first Dingo arrived, it seemed, by accident. A gentleman wishing to purchase a Cattle Dog pup broached the subject of Dingoes and my efforts to have it recognised officially as native fauna.

He asked me if I would like a female pup, guaranteed pure bred, but no questions asked.

The incredible dream I had nurtured for so long looked like it could at last become a reality. I did not really believe that it could come true until she was actually handed over to me, a little fearful bundle of grey. I had told no one, not even my family. She was from the Barrington Tops region of the NSW tablelands, an area where winters can be very cold.

Dora was about 7 weeks of age when she arrived at our home. She was petrified of humans, and extremely cautious of everything, though she showed interest in the other dogs kennelled here, and they in her.

When I took her in my arms she tried to hide from the world by burying her head under my arm.  As a baby she always did this when approached by strangers.

I first took her into the house and gently put her down on the floor, trying to reassure her continually with my voice. She flew into a dark corner under the lounge, petrified. Talking to her quietly, I gradually put my hand on her and carefully edged her to me. Although frantic with fear she did not attempt to bite though she squealed in alarm and growled.

When the family came home, each was speechless in horror. Then, "Mum! That's a Dingo! We'll all end up in gaol. Get rid of it."

My pup and I just clung together, instinctively knowing that we belonged together; that this was our destiny.

She was covered with a dense, blackish-fawn fur, her face black. She had little or no top coat. Her eyes were dark brown. Her skin was mostly a bluish­pink, the roof of her mouth dark like a Cattle Dog’s, but the mouth as a whole appeared darker, almost blue. The coat near the skin was yellow on top of her back, but on her ribs and belly it was dark blue. Her stifles were longer and more rounded and lay of shoulder more angulated than the Cattle Dog’s. Her frame was well boned, legs strong and feet round and deep padded with strong well-arched nails. She had a dark spot on her tail.

Comparing her to a Cattle Dog pup, their weights were similar, although the Cattle Dog pup’s body was thicker.

The main difference was in the teeth. Her canines in particular were longer and sharper. This has remained a difference. Her eyes were almost black, almond in shape and set obliquely.

Dora Makes Friends

I took Dora out into the dog yards and carefully introduced her to the various Cattle Dogs through the fences. Fortunately, we had a litter of Cattle Dog pups about the same age, both reds and blues, and I was able to carefully integrate Dora into their enclosure. They were immediate friends. I noticed Dora was very careful not to take the initiative but followed the play and joined in.

As the pups got along so well and the Cattle Dog pups seemed to give Dora courage, it was decided to leave them together for the night. On that first night she seemed content in her enclosure shared with a blue pup, Juicy, and a red pup Sun Sally. When the pups were fed, the Cattle Dog pups tucked in and quickly had their fill; it was some weeks before Dora stood and ate a meal. She would eat a little, and then prowl round for a time, then return for a bit more, sometimes vigorously shaking it as if to 'kill' it. This behaviour is not restricted to the Dingo.

When she howled just on dusk and the other dogs joined in. I knew she was settling in, and that she was accepted.

Next morning I was over with the pups early. All was well. As soon as I entered the enclosure I was met by an avalanche of Cattle Dog pups. Dora was enthusiastic but kept slightly back. In the fourteen years we shared together, she never jumped up on me. At all times she treated me with the respect accorded to an alpha person, always approaching me with head and ears slightly lowered, her beautiful deep browns looking into me with love, loyalty and trust.

Up to at least six months of age she was never dominant or aggressive. When other humans approached, she dashed behind the kennel and peered out cautiously, always keeping other pups between herself and the stranger. Eventually she learned to stand her ground, head weaving slowly from side to side, taking in any new smells, and gradually making her way to the fence. After some weeks she would actually go to the fence and allow herself to be touched. I felt she regarded the fence as her protection as she was far less wary when the fence was between her and any stranger.

Dora's movements were more like those of a cat than a dog. She often put me in mind of a lioness. She could start off at an enormous speed, doubling up like a greyhound; head stretched out like an arrow. When she stopped suddenly she curved her body like a cat. Her hooded ears could rotate almost like a radar screen.

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