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Canberra Today 12°/13° | Wednesday, October 20, 2021 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

Buckley gets a chance with the Keeling ‘pack’

Buckley the part dingo and its new “pack”…  the Keeling family, Lisa,  Andrew and their three children Rupert, 11, Amy, 5 and Bella, 14. Photo: Andrew Campbell

THREE-year-old Buckley ended up at a pound in Taree after being found as a stray roaming about town. The dingo-kelpie mix was scheduled to be euthanised the next day.

But when Sydney Dingo Rescue – a shelter based near Bungendore helping dingoes find new homes – heard about Buckley, they saw his potential and rescued him.

“No one came forward to claim him so we drove to Taree and picked him up,” says Charlie Jackson-Martin, founder of Sydney Dingo Rescue.

“We named him Buckley as in ‘Buckley’s and None’ because Buckley was on his last chance and he almost didn’t make it.”

Charlie started Sydney Dingo Rescue almost 10 years ago, when eight dingoes were seized from a backyard breeder.

The shelter takes care of mistreated and orphaned dingoes and dingo mixes and helps them find new homes. 

“We knew from the moment we met Buckley that he would be an amazing dog for a family,” Charlie says.

It didn’t take long for Charlie to realise that the ideal home for Buckley was in Canberra with the Keeling family.

Now Buckley has a new home for the rest of its life.

“He’s adorable,” Lisa Keeling – Buckley’s new owner – says.

“He’s been with us for about a year now. He’s certainly living his best life.”

Lisa, her husband Andrew and their three children Bella, 14, Rupert, 11, and Amy, 5, live in Hackett.

The family had fostered dogs before, but were encouraged by a friend to think about adopting a dingo mix. 

Dingo mixes – also known as dingo hybrids or dingo crosses – are a cross between a dingo and a domestic dog.

They are legal to keep in the ACT and NSW. 

Pure-bred dingoes can be kept in NSW without a licence, but not in the ACT.

“People think we are a bit strange to have a dingo,” says Lisa.

“But Buckley is a great ambassador for a dingo here in Canberra because he’s so engaging, quirky and everyone loves him.”

Radiating in tan, with upright ears and long skinny legs – greater numbers of the part-native-bred dog are being adopted into domestic homes.

“Dingo mixes are predominantly being adopted into homes in NSW but we are seeing increasing numbers being housed in homes in Canberra,” Charlie says. 

“There is an appeal in a sense to want to help our national animal, so we are seeing more families wanting dingo mixes.”

Sydney Dingo Rescue has rehomed about 200 dingoes and dingo mixes since the shelter’s inception.

Uncontrolled breeding of dingoes by backyard breeders means “huge” numbers of homeless dingoes are surrendered to shelters and pounds each year.

Sydney Dingo Rescue does not support the breeding of dingoes in captivity, Charlie says, which is why all their dingo mixes are desexed.

“The breeding of dingo mixes for the pet market is a real problem,” says Charlie.

“Sometimes we might have three to four dingoes or dingo mixes surrendered each week, we’ve had six new rescues just this week.

“We also get a lot of working-breed dingo mixes meaning that an un-desexed cattle dog or kelpie from a farm has mated with a wild dingo.

“Those dingo pups will have some domestic and dingo traits and may not be suitable to work livestock, so they end up being surrendered to the pound.”

The shelter is also committed to helping pure-bred dingoes, which are often hunted in the wild. 

“We do get wild-born dingoes that come in as orphan pups because people are allowed to hunt, bait and poison dingoes in the wild, so the pups are found wandering about looking for food on their own,” Charlie says.

“Many of our pure dingoes are rehomed at zoos and wildlife parks including the Canberra zoo.”

At the moment, the shelter is home to around a dozen dingo mixes and 40 dingoes looking for new homes.

While they aren’t the animal for everyone, they do make intelligent and loyal pets.

But before you open your home to one, Charlie says, there are a few things you need to know.

“They are very good jumpers, they can jump almost two metres in the air, so you need good fencing because they can be prone to taking themselves off and going on adventures,” Charlie says.

Dingoes lack the gene to digest starch and grain so a raw, grain-free diet is needed to keep them healthy.

These “unique” animals typically also need a companion, either in another desexed dingo mix of the opposite sex or in a medium or large domestic dog.

“Dingoes live with other dingoes so you become like their pack in a sense, you become their family.”

Prospective dingo-mix owners should do their homework, Lisa says, because it’s important to understand the differences between the native animal and domestic dogs.

“Buckley has certain traits that are very much like a dingo and not a dog,” Lisa says.

“If a breeze comes in unexpectedly he gets startled, runs outside and hides. I don’t think he’d ever been inside a house before we got him and he certainly didn’t know how to walk down stairs. But he’s getting more confident.

“He’s the sweetest, easiest dog we’ve ever had. Buckley brings us so much joy.”


To adopt a dingo mix visit


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Belinda Strahorn

Belinda Strahorn

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