You find them in every town – the well-heeled older woman, the grungy man about town, the slightly eccentric neighbour, the buff young blokes on the block and those who work hard for their money.
But just how do they spend their days? And more importantly, what are their favourite accessories?
Tune in each month to find out the deepest and darkest secrets of those dogs you may pass on the street but are just too polite to question…
Interview with Gypsy, The German Shepherd Conservationist
Full Name – Gypsy
Age – 9 years
Breed – German Shepherd
Residential area – Perth foothills
Preferred lead length – Gypsy is free range, but says a Freedogz Biothane 3m lead on her owner Bill would be great to stop him wandering off in Bunnings.
In-depth interview questions:
I see your business card reads ‘Chief Security Officer for Kaarakin, home of the Black Cockatoo Preservation Society’. Our primary purpose at Kaarakin is to rescue wild black cockatoos in distress and rehabilitate them for release back into the wild. These poor cockatoos might have been shot, struck by vehicles, fallen from nests or been attacked by other birds and animals. If people find an injured cockatoo, it will need immediate emergency care.
It can be a slow process but releasing them is so rewarding. I always get teary when they leave, but if anyone notices I tell them I have dust in my eye.
I believe you take your job as Chief Security Officer very seriously. Yes, I do. As a German Shepherd from working bloodlines, I have a very strong work ethic.
My primary job is to be alert to threats and protect our private house yard, it is our home. If the gate is left opened I alert Bill that we have visitors and I escort them to the house. Only when Bill gives me the okay do I leave their side.
If the gate is shut no one gets in and I mean no one. No one. I don’t care if I just shared a biscuit with a volunteer in the staff room, if they come to our gate and the gate is closed, then they do not come in. A closed gate means no entry by anyone unless Bill says it’s okay, that’s the rules.
This place looks like a dog’s paradise. What dog wouldn’t love the freedom to roam a property like this. Each day I check on all our residents, especially all the little chicks – a chick welfare check, I call it –and catch up with our volunteers. It’s a hard life, but some dog’s gotta do it!
Who else lives at Kaarakin? First and foremost, there’s Bill, my owner and best friend.
From there it’s a real ‘Who’s Who’ of native birds and animals. We have about 180 black cockatoos, including Carnaby’s Cockatoos, Baudin’s Cockatoos and the stunning Forest Red Tail Cockatoos. Most are here for rehabilitation but some live here permanently. Other native birds like emus and all sorts of wild parrots live here too. We also have an adult pair of Pilbara dingoes – they live here with 4 of their offspring – and 2 Alpine dingoes.
For that international touch we have some peacocks and pheasants etc.
Why not come see what we do and meet my friends? We aren’t open to the general public, but private guided tours can be arranged for a donation to the centre.
Gypsy with one of the many chicks she has helped raise at Kaarakin Black Cockatoo Conservation Centre
Do you have much in common with the dingoes? Well, we both support the West Coast Eagles, and we look a bit similar. I mean, I look more like a dingo than I do a fish, but that’s about it. I bark, they don’t. They climb trees, I don’t. Dingoes are so different to dogs that they are their own species. On patrol I stop and chat with them (we speak similar dialects) and then we play by running up and down the fence that separates us. Good times.
Kaarakin is quite a large operation. I can’t take all the credit. The dedication of our very small group of staff cannot be overstated, but it is our volunteers that help us grow from strength to strength.
Everyone has a skill we can use. Like being outdoors and gardening? Come help with revegetation and landscaping projects. Love problem solving and using tools? Come build some aviaries or garden beds. Good with words and computers? Prepare a grant application. I would happily do those jobs but without thumbs it’s just too hard.
What about funding? Kaarakin relies on sponsorship and donations to stay open. The support of organizations like the City of Gosnells, Lotterywest and BHP Billiton is essential to my team having the resources it needs.
Perth Zoo are amazing – they check all the birds before they move in with us – and Vetafarm donate specialized seed – imagine how much seed our birds chew through, Check out our sponsors – even better, become a sponsor! Or, make a donation – 100% of your donation helps to conserve cockatoos, and all donations over $2 are tax deductible.
Any final thought to share, Gypsy? I live a great life here at Kaarakin, and Bill takes such good care of me – sometimes he even keeps me company when I nap. One of my most special moments each day is when we travel around Kaarakin in our little utility vehicle. I always call / woof ‘shotgun’ to make sure I get the passenger seat, and when we are driving, I feel like we are in the Millennium Falcon and Bill is Han Solo and I am Chewbacca.
The work we do is so important that when I go to sleep at night I know I have helped make a difference. Even my dreams are happy Kaarakin memories. Like when the little peacock chicks snuggled up to me or I took the emu chicks walking each day because their dad, Old Man Emu couldn’t. What more could a dog want!!!