I love dingoes! It’s an amazing privilege to experience close contact with such an intelligent animal.
I have been very lucky to have the honour of exploring our landscape in company with this magnificent misunderstood creature – who balances on the edge of extinction through the twin threats of hybridisation and persecution.
Like the Thylacine, (Tasmanian Tiger) they may disappear through our ignorance and neglect.
Reluctantly I accepted care of an emaciated female pup, her white colour covering a rare 3% of pure dingoes.
Previous experience with a pure black and tan pup (8% this colour) had taught me, the hard way, that dingoes are nothing like dogs – never expect “dog behaviour” from a dingo.
This time though I was living in a remote location and could see the potential for this pup to live the way nature intended, to live wild.
It wasn’t long before she had stolen my heart. Naturally timid and with an innate fear of humans, the pup bonded only with my son and myself. We had become her pack and all others were avoided.
Together we roamed the countryside, learning the environment around us. She taught me plenty.
I learnt quickly that to fall behind was to miss out. Under her guidance I learned which hollow logs held critters, which clumps of grass camouflaged lizards or goannas and what was going on in the treetops and sky above us.
She guided me to trees where berries were ripening, scattering the ground beneath. I decided if she could eat them, I probably could too, discovering culinary delights around my bush home I’d never known before.
Her sense of smell proved to be incredible. Once she led me four hundred meters up a hill to discover a mummified snake. Often I would try to sneak off only to have her track me down easily.
Occasionally she would leave me to chase after kangaroos or feral animals. I was never concerned leaving her to fend for herself.
She would always return home, even over many kilometres, even if we had driven a vehicle instead of walking. Her built-in GPS seemed faultless. Quickly she developed.
Her natural instincts kicked in and she spent less time with us and more out in the wild. Three days might pass between sightings but our meetings were always mutually joyful.
Many of the experiences I shared with her were richly beautiful but none so precious as sharing in her becoming a mother for the first time.
Unlike dogs, dingoes breed only once a year.
Her den was a twenty minute walk up a rocky range in a rough rock shelter. It was our secret. If strangers had approached she would have moved the den immediately to keep her pups safe.
Four cubs were born, all of them tan, the most common colour (88%), like their wild father.