Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Dingo dedication

Gillian and Richard Ryhorchuk care for 51 dingoes at their Earlston farm in a passion that started when they got their first dingo in 1975.

GRACE DOBELL July 6, 2013 4:59am

Bushland Dingo Haven- Gillian Ryhorchuk

When Gillian Ryhorchuk got her first dingo in 1975, she did not realise it would change her life so greatly.

The dingo, named Ned, soon led to buying another... and another... and then some more.

Ms Ryhorchuk, 69, and her husband Richard, 69, have 51 of the animals on their Earlston farm today.

‘‘Since 1975, we’ve had about 17 litters,’’ Ms Ryhorchuk said.

‘‘In those days, there weren’t permits or anything to own a dingo and now there are.

‘‘The last time we had a litter of pups three years ago we didn’t sell any, so they all stay here.’’

The couple has created a series of large enclosures with 3m high fences to keep their dingoes safe.

Each of the 51 dingoes has a name, but Ms Ryhorchuk admitted she did have a favourite.

‘‘My favourite is probably Railroad because he shows more affection than the others,’’ she said.

‘‘Even though they’re affectionate, they don’t grovel over you like dogs do.

‘‘Once you know you’ve got their respect, you’ve almost got it made.’’

Ms Ryhorchuk warned people looking after a dingo was not like a pet dog, despite her affection for the animals.

‘‘A lot of people come to us and they say they would like a dingo,’’ she said.

‘‘I say well, ‘no you wouldn’t, because it takes so much time and dedication to own a dingo’.

‘‘They escape a lot. It’s just the way they are, they need a lot of attention.’’

In Victoria, only five per cent of wild canines are dingoes and they are classified as a threatened species in the state.

It takes the retired couple three hours each day to clean out the dingoes’ enclosures and the animals go through about 20kg of chicken a day.

‘‘They don’t need to eat every day to sustain normal existence,’’ Ms Ryhorchuk said.

‘‘We also go through kilograms of cheese and lamb crumble.’’

She said she would still prefer to own dingoes than domestic dogs, despite their hard work.

‘‘It’s just their personality and the type of animals they are,’’ she said.

‘‘You have to win their affection.

‘‘You have to be patient and wait for them to become attached to you. They’re nothing like normal dogs.’’

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