Penguin pal dies
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.
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