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 The Very Wise “Lilly” the Alpine Dingo
Full Name – Lilly
Age – 7 years
Breed – Alpine Dingo
Residential area – Perth foothills
Favourite harness – Haqihana Harness Green – Donated by the Lets Walk team
Preferred lead length – I like the feel of Biothane, currently using a Freedogz 10 metre – Donated by Els Vidts from Freedogz – Belgium
In-depth interview questions:
Maybe we could start with some introductions. Our pack consists of myself and Mitch, Toby, Marli, and Marli’s new pups. The pups only get their names once their personalities develop, so only two have names at the moment – Narla and Tassie.
You don’t look the same. We have different colourings because we are different, just like you humans, but we have much thicker coats as the pack are Bogong dingoes.
How long have you been here? At least 4,000 years but we may have been here for as long as 45,000 years! We were recently given our own species status, so while I don’t know where we came from, I know this is a great place to live.
Um, I meant how long have you lived in the Perth hills. My bad! We have lived here in our purpose-built haven since 2011. It has two elevated positions so we can keep an eye on the property – a big rocky outcrop with a protected den area underneath for shelter and a BIG platform on a hill.
We also have some big trees for shade. Did you know that dingoes can climb trees? Most people don’t know that. Actually, most people don’t know much about us at all.
Now is your chance to change all that! What would you like people to know? Well, dingoes aren’t dogs – we are our own species (Canis dingo) because our anatomy and behaviours are so different.
We also have bigger brains than dogs. Please note I am not saying dogs aren’t smart, but they have adapted to living with humans who meet many of their needs. Dingoes, however, have retained ’street smarts’, because everyday we still problem solve survival issues like living in a pack, hunting and protecting ourselves.
What else? Well, our limb and hip movements are more flexible than dogs to help us hunt and move through burrows. And we don’t bark – instead we howl, yelp, growl, and whine.
And one final fact – there are always, always white hairs at the tip of our tail. It might be a just few, but they are always there.
Is there a hierarchy in your pack? Of course, and everyone has a role. Mitch participates in teaching the pups – at only 16 weeks old they have lots to learn – Toby is the protector, and Marli is a full-time mum.
And you? You know the saying, ‘The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world’, well, that’s me – I influence the future direction of our pack by raising and nurturing the next generation. I am the disciplinarian, and not just for the pups. You can be sure I still call Marli and Toby into line if I feel they need it.
Tell me more about Toby’s role. Toby’s job is to always be alert for risks. First thing each morning he scouts around, if all is good he makes a little ’tsk’ noise and we know it’s safe to wander out. He is always on patrol – even if it looks like we are all napping in the heat of the day, he is alert and at the slightest threat lets us know if we need to act. I guess you could say he sleeps with one eye open…
You seem protected from many threats here – what risks does Toby alert you to? All risks! It could be dogs or people we don’t know on the property, possible food sources such as snakes and birds – everything really, his eyes are for the pack.
Just the other day Toby raised the alarm and we all went to the highest point of the outcrop and surrounded him, sitting in a circle with our backs to him. It turned out that a visitor was on the property which we all enjoy, but we could not see who it was and it was a strange vehicle. Once we saw that there was no danger we went back to what we were doing.
Dingoes aren’t the best loved of Australia’s native animals. We are Australia’s native apex land predator and people often think of us only as wild dogs that eat livestock and cute furry animals. But guess what? Foxes and feral dogs and cats inflict massive damage to Australian animals and livestock.
Did you know in some agricultural areas where dingo packs have been reinstated in the wild that we have actively contributed to feral animal control? As a result, the wild marsupial and mammal populations started to flourish as did the farmers’ flocks. And here’s another surprising fact for you – dingoes don’t eat sheep or pork!
Any final thoughts you’d like to share? We are raising money for a new interactive enclosure as we want to educate people about how to behave around us and who we really are. Find out more at https://chuffed.org/project/dollars-for-dingoes.
My final words of wisdom! My pack is proud of its role in educating people about how dingoes behave, and I look forward to a day when our descendants can safely return to their lands and go about their dingo business.