A long time ago I was studying for an exam on the evolution of the dog and dingoes were mentioned briefly.They interested me but I didn’t pursue it any further. When I recently stumbled upon this video I decided it was a good time to learn a bit more about them.
Dingoes are wild canines, wild being the operative word, that live in Australia. They differ from dogs in a number of ways. The only come into heat only once a year whereas dogs generally come in twice. They rarely bark and use howls and variations of howling to communicate. They are typically seen alone, but they can become part of a loosely formed and fluid pack. They hunt, but they can also live entirely on human food that they have scavenged or stolen. They have also been known to beg. They are also extraordinarily flexible, as you can see from the photo.
Just last month in a case that dragged on for 32 years,new evidence was used regarding dingoes. The mother of a 9 week old baby, who claimed that a dingo took her baby, was finally exonerated. The first time the case went to court the mother was convicted of murder. The ruling was overturned but the mother was never fully cleared until June 2012. At the time of the first trial there were no documented accounts of dingoes ever having attacked a child. However between 1998 and 2007 there have been three such reports, the children ranging in age from 13 months to 9 years.
A dingo expert was called on for an opinion in that case.
His opinion was interesting and concluded with the warning that dingoes really should not be compared with dogs. This reminded me of the comparisons of dogs to wolves and the various training approaches which grew from this and which have been largely debunked. A dingo’s hunting skills are utilized on a regular basis for survival. But their abilities to pillage food from campsites and to even beg from humans has placed some of them in a position where they are neither fully wild nor fully domesticated.