Pen­guin pal dies

Shepparton News - Country News - - MAN’S BEST FRIEND -

Odd­ball, the Maremma that proved dogs could be used to pro­tect a Vic­to­rian pen­guin colony and in­spired a movie in the process, has died aged 15.

She spent only two weeks on Mid­dle Is­land but her short trip led to a per­ma­nent pen­guin­pro­tec­tion project be­ing set up and a 2015 film be­ing named after her.

‘‘Old Odd­ball has gone to the big chook run in the sky and will rest in peace,’’ the Mid­dle Is­land Maremma Project posted to Face­book last Wed­nes­day.

About 150 m off­shore from War­rnam­bool and con­nected by a tidal sand bridge, Mid­dle Is­land has been home to lit­tle pen­guins for decades.

Ma­raud­ing foxes cut the is­land’s pop­u­la­tion to fewer than 10 birds in 2005.

That led chicken farmer Alan Marsh, who had trained Marem­mas to pro­tect his freerange chooks, to sug­gest ap­ply­ing the same tac­tic for the pen­guins.

The world-first project was so suc­cess­ful it at­tracted in­ter­est from as far as Italy and led to Shane Jacobson por­tray­ing the pioneer­ing Mr Marsh in the 2015 fam­ily film, Odd­ball.

Two dogs, Eudy and Tula, now spend five days a week on the is­land dur­ing breed­ing sea­son.

The pen­guin pop­u­la­tion was es­ti­mated at 130 in 2015. In­spi­ra­tional story A pro­mo­tional snap from the movie Odd­ball, which was based around the suc­cess­ful use of a Maremma dog to pro­tect fairy pen­guins in a colony off the Vic­to­rian coast. Pic­ture: Vil­lage Road­show Pooch is swim­ming

with the dol­phins A rescue dog from West­ern Aus­tralia is en­joy­ing her sum­mer swim­ming with dol­phins.

Her owner Erin Cum­mings, said Kuta, 2, had no fear and would fol­low the dol­phins for as long as she could.

‘‘She swam so far out and would have kept go­ing if I didn’t call her back,’’ she said.

‘‘The dol­phins seem to be more cu­ri­ous for her than me when we are swim­ming. They ac­tu­ally cir­cle her and play around.’’

Ms Cum­mings has fre­quently snapped Kuta ex­cit­edly pad­dling with the dol­phins at beaches around Esper­ance in the state’s south-east. He’s got my back, says dog own­ing vet­eran Driv­ing to the shops to buy some milk was an im­pos­si­ble task for Ricky Law­son.

That was un­til a choco­late labradoo­dle named Hoover came into his life.

The ex-sol­dier de­vel­oped post-trau­matic stress dis­or­der and anx­i­ety fol­low­ing his mil­i­tary ser­vice, which in­cluded a de­ploy­ment to East Ti­mor.

After leav­ing the de­fence force, he strug­gled to cope in crowd sit­u­a­tions.

‘‘I got off my back­side, got him at 10 weeks of age and I don’t leave the house with­out him,’’ Mr Law­son told a Se­nate in­quiry into vet­er­ans’ sui­cides.

‘‘It does make it eas­ier to come out of your cave.’’

Hoover’s pos­i­tive in­flu­ence has also helped Mr Law­son cut down on his med­i­ca­tion.

Hoover was the equiv­a­lent of a fel­low sol­dier, he said.

Mr Law­son is part of an or­gan­i­sa­tion called Ruff Love, which is train­ing ca­nines to be as­sis­tance dogs for vet­er­ans and emer­gency ser­vices per­son­nel who ex­pe­ri­ence men­tal health is­sues.

The dogs wear spe­cial or­ange jack­ets when they are on duty and un­dergo ex­ten­sive train­ing.

. . .

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.