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November 2012

Not a dog


On a windy autumn day on a green hill near Gisborne in Victoria, Lyn Watson, the co-founder of the Dingo Discovery Sanctuary and Research Centre, calls out to Snapple, a male dingo. The red-blond canine trots over and sits patiently as Watson demonstrates all the ways a dingo is not a dog. First, she puts a hand under the animal’s chin and one at the top of its head, then – as if it has a hinge at the back of its neck – she pushes back until the top of the dingo’s skull touches its spine. Upright again, she turns its ears like radar dishes. When dingoes hunt, one ear points directly forward and one directly back. Next, Watson rotates Snapple’s head from side to side, and it travels at least 200 degrees each way. It’s like the famous head-spinning scene in The Exorcist, except it’s adorable. Why do dingoes have hinged heads? 

I wrote about an amazing dingo sanctuary in The Monthly, subscription only.

Below a video I shot at the Sanctuary. It's a small demo of the dingo's startlingly non-dog-like abilities. Most of the people I showed it to gasped aloud.



If you don't build it...


A case study in sport has a lot in common with case studies in medicine or scientific discovery. It follows a standard arc even as it tells an individual tale. All the classic tensions are there: the individual versus the world, the expertise of the old versus the ambition of the young, the beauty of hard-won skills, and the poignant value of leaving home. Plus, there's throwing and hitting things. I wrote about the sought-after Australian rookie Lewis Thorpe for the Good Weekend.