By Donald D. & Judy K. Ehrlich
Email Address: email@example.com
Would you like to learn more and talk with other Singing Dog owners and enthusiasts? Our discussion group is New_Guinea_Singing_Dog_Forever@yahoogroups.com
Here's the link: http://pets.groups.yahoo.com/group/New_Guinea_Singing_Dog_Forever/
A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world. Oscar Wilde
We also have a Facebook page called Primitive Dog Rescue. Please join us.
All Singer spirits are connected and although you can't see them, they lurk in the shadows ever ready to jump forward to offer consolation and strength to each other and their caretakers.
All the souls and spirits of God's good work are one together.
Singers have the same memory flashes as humans. They can retrieve memories good and bad, so be ever vigilant to talk gently with your Singers and treat them with kindness.
Every overt action and word you speak is logged forever in their minds and in their very souls and is passed on one to another through their songs.
Why Do We Conserve Singing Dogs? Wouldn't it be better to put our efforts and resources into preserving their habitat? Yes, preserving habitat for those wild Singers still in existence would be the best we could do for the sub-species. But not reintroduction. I used to be a proponent of reintroduction. Not so any more. I think it's a dream that will never be realized. When someone asks me why we conserve Singing Dogs, I have a simple answer followed by a long explanation. We conserve Singing Dogs because we like them. We respect them for what they are. We enjoy their presence. We admire their spunk and determination. Looking at them and realizing how long they have survived mankind and all the natural catastrophes makes a person understand quite clearly that watching them is a blessed experience.
Saying these things then, it only follows that we would also like for future generations of humans to have the opportunity to also enjoy Singing Dogs. Everyday we see the effects of poor animal management. The international extinction list is sickening. My opinion is that we should do the best we can to preserve what we have. Our goal with Singing Dogs is to preserve the bloodlines needed to continue, as long as possible, NGSD who are healthy and free of intentional inbreeding and domestication. DE 7/9/2013 Singing Dogs Are Not Dogs. Nor Are They Wolves. My response to an article that states that recent DNA sampling shows Australian Dingoes to be neither a dog or a wolf. Rather they are a species all their own. So what this is saying is that when humans try to eradicate Australian Dingoes, they are trying to eliminate a species, a species of canid that is not and cannot be duplicated in the entire world. Soooo, what kind of people set out to eliminate an entire species? So then what does this say about New Guinea Singing Dogs who are almost genetically identical to AUD? Put 20 more pounds onto a Singing Dog and you would have a much more imposing critter. So, which of you out there will be responsible for the extinction of the captive Singing Dog population whether by apathy or by actively destroying them by inbreeding? I think that is a decision that must be made by each of us who profess to love them. History will pass judgment. History will record whether adequate steps were taken to ensure their continuance or whether humankind turned its back on them. You see, the late Dr. Alan Wilton hypothesized that AU Dingoes and New Guinea Singing Dogs are ALL descended from ONE litter whelped by a pregnant female who, by whatever means, made her way to either New Guinea or Australia. Judy and I believe that Dr. Wilton was correct. For although they look like dogs and resemble wolves, they are not genetically either one. One of the factors what has caused this phenomenon is the fact of their total isolation from the rest of the world. They evolved in isolation for thousands of years. Yes, they will interbreed with domestic dogs. Will they interbreed with wolves? We don't know as far as I know because to my knowledge, no one has tried to make a Singer/Wolf. Let's hope they don't. So, even though NGSD and AUD will interbreed with domestic dogs, it does not mean they will become a domestic dog no matter how hard humans try. My opinion is that it would take an infinite number of generations to "breed out" the wild instincts found in AUD and NGSD. The reason humans have success in training and in making companion dogs of them is simply because the subjects the humans are working with allow it. The trainers and domesticators ARE NOT CHANGING the genetic makeup of the animals. The animals are simply allowing the humans to make surface changes. Genetically deep within the NGSD and AUD gene pool, there is no real change. Could anyone actually think that a few humans could undo what nature has spent thousands of years perfecting? A human cannot make a Singing Dog do anything it does not WANT to do. It's a simple fact Judy and I have proven time after time over a 25 year period of studying these animals. For a Singing Dog to revert to instinctual habits and traits is as easy as snapping your fingers. A millisecond is the time it can take for a perfectly friendly loving creature to change to a shy, avoidance seeking wild dog. Is this bad? Well, for those humans who think they're smarter than Nature, yes, it's bad. For those of us who respect wild animals for what they are, no, it is not bad. It is what we would expect of the animal. It is what we admire about the animal. I think that wanting to procure a Singer as a companion for another dog in the house, is a mistake. Singers do not crave nor even care for, companionship with another dog other than another Singer. Sure, they are capable of tolerating another dog or even other dog(s) and may even become friends, but again, just how many other dogs did nature put in the wild for companions to Singers? Answer, none. Why, maybe the best canid won out? Our observations again from observing Singers all these years is, that for the most part, Singers don't really "like" other dogs. They just put up with them and are more friendly during breeding season. So, take away the hormones(s/n) and they become more tolerant. Singers and AUD are about as true a primitive as we'll ever find. I can tell you one thing for sure. If you treat a Singing Dog the same way you treat a domestic dog by giving them fancy food, keeping them inside away from sunshine and fresh air and worrying about very little whimsical physical and psychological change, you will become frustrated and you will shorten the life of your Singer. They are the toughest canid on earth. They have had to be tough in order to survive in the wild. It's a simple thing. Look at what they have to eat in the wild. Look at the conditions where they flourish. Then compare the care you give yours with what is "natural" and you will get a better idea about the life experiences these animals should have in order to live long and healthy lives. We have one Singer with whom I have worked for four years, yet I know for a fact that it would take her just a second to bolt out the gate and kill our Pug or a cat or if we were lucky, simply take off for the day and hunt on her own. It's there inside them and has been for thousands of generations and anyone who thinks differently is just plain stupid. yes there are exceptions so long as the basic instincts stay buried. I have made another anecdotal observation. Of late, I have been asking our hired man to take almost sole care of the Singers. So of late, I have had little contact with them. Now it is very apparent that the Singers(not all of them) are much more reserved and shy around me, much more than they used to be. It is as though I am losing their trust. Linda(a rescue I believe to be a Jindo mix) is also extremely shy of late. What is this telling us about Singers and possibly about other Primitives as well? It's not that our hired man mistreats the dogs, not al all, but the one thing I've observed is that he rarely talks to them and never TRIES to make friends with them. He's all business as far as doing the chores, getting them done. I think these dogs NEED and REQUIRE daily trust reinforcement. Without daily TLC, unless they are EXTREMELY socialized, they will rapidly regress behaviorally and begin shunning human contact. See, first of all NGSD and AUD are not dogs. As the article says, AUD DNA is neither dog nor wolf, so if they're not a dog, but members of a separate species. Therefore, a NGSD or AUD cannot be considered a breed. Now then, even with severe inbreeding, they still would not be a breed. They would be a tamed wild animal, species Dingo. So nowadays the geneticists consider AUD as a species and NGSD as their sub-species. So, in truth, no matter how much "domestication" takes place, no matter how much their behavior, traits, coloration etc. is manipulated by humans, they will still remain a sub-species of Dingo and will never become a domestic dog, simply because genetically, they are not a dog. The only way any members of the either wild or captive population could be considered a "breed of dog" would be if there were some members tested whose DNA matched those of domestic dogs which means to me that they would have to be domestic dog/wild dog hybrids. But then you see, those members would no longer be NGSD or AUD at all, but rather they would be a mutt, mixed dog, hybrid, or cur, whatever a person wanted to call them. What needs to take place is to gather DNA samples from Singers in the wild and compare it to DNA taken from the captive population. That would yield some interesting and valuable information. Invariably, someone will ask, "Well then, do Singing Dogs and Dingoes belong in zoos." My answer would be that they belong in any environment where they can be comfortable, safe, happy and healthy be it zoo, sanctuary, or private ownership. I think I have been incomplete in some of my earlier thinking because I have always maintained that breeding for color is a form of domestication. Now, since these new DNA results are out, I have to change my stance a little bit. Breeding for color is artificially manipulating genes by inbreeding in order to produce some human desired color and it is a form of domestication in that all members are "cookie cutter" animals, but I think it ends there. It would take many generations of selective breeding to really make a major change in the basic drives. It's not going to happen any time soon, certainly not in our lifetimes. But if it does occur, the product will no longer be a NGSD or AUD. It will be a modified form and will be a "breed of dog" or if it is a result of mixing in domestic genes, it will be a hybrid.. A NGSD or AUD by definition must possess a very specific set of genes. Any variation from that specific set of genes will cause it to be something other than a NGSD or AUD. Humans can modify behavior all day long, but it takes a heck of a lot of modification to actually change DNA. Not likely. Not only that, out of a litter of say, 6 puppies, how many of them will have the "new" behavior? There is a formula for it. So how will a buyer know whether they're getting a "wild dog" or a member of a "new breed"? Pretty iffy and stupid, seems to me. What would be the motivation for reducing an animal from species or sub-species status down to being simply a member of a breed of dog? There are hundreds of breeds of dog. There are only TWO species and sub-species of Dingo. There may be more out there in the world, but considering hundreds of years of human interference, it's really kind of doubtful. Of course, those people who have a God complex would be elated to claim they have modified a product of nature. If any one has a little trouble following all this dialogue, don't feel bad. I've been thinking about all this for 25 years, have worked with multiple numbers of Singing Dogs for 25 years on a daily basis, and I still find it a bit confusing at times. I can tell you one thing for certain, there is no book learning substitute for working with live subjects. There is no comparison in the degree of satisfaction garnered either. To be able to walk outside, sit down, interact with, and observe the goings on of 20-25 subjects is a blessed honor bestowed on few people. So if we're to break up this kennel and scatter 16 of our Singers to the four winds, I'm going to take advantage of every minute I have left with them. 8/31/2014 DE
Singing Dogs Are Not Dogs. Nor Are They Wolves.
My response to an article that states that recent DNA sampling shows Australian Dingoes to be neither a dog or a wolf. Rather they are a species all their own.
So what this is saying is that when humans try to eradicate Australian Dingoes, they are trying to eliminate a species, a species of canid that is not and cannot be duplicated in the entire world. Soooo, what kind of people set out to eliminate an entire species? So then what does this say about New Guinea Singing Dogs who are almost genetically identical to AUD? Put 20 more pounds onto a Singing Dog and you would have a much more imposing critter. So, which of you out there will be responsible for the extinction of the captive Singing Dog population whether by apathy or by actively destroying them by inbreeding? I think that is a decision that must be made by each of us who profess to love them. History will pass judgment. History will record whether adequate steps were taken to ensure their continuance or whether humankind turned its back on them.
You see, the late Dr. Alan Wilton hypothesized that AU Dingoes and New Guinea Singing Dogs are ALL descended from ONE litter whelped by a pregnant female who, by whatever means, made her way to either New Guinea or Australia. Judy and I believe that Dr. Wilton was correct. For although they look like dogs and resemble wolves, they are not genetically either one. One of the factors what has caused this phenomenon is the fact of their total isolation from the rest of the world. They evolved in isolation for thousands of years. Yes, they will interbreed with domestic dogs. Will they interbreed with wolves? We don't know as far as I know because to my knowledge, no one has tried to make a Singer/Wolf. Let's hope they don't. So, even though NGSD and AUD will interbreed with domestic dogs, it does not mean they will become a domestic dog no matter how hard humans try. My opinion is that it would take an infinite number of generations to "breed out" the wild instincts found in AUD and NGSD. The reason humans have success in training and in making companion dogs of them is simply because the subjects the humans are working with allow it. The trainers and domesticators ARE NOT CHANGING the genetic makeup of the animals. The animals are simply allowing the humans to make surface changes. Genetically deep within the NGSD and AUD gene pool, there is no real change. Could anyone actually think that a few humans could undo what nature has spent thousands of years perfecting? A human cannot make a Singing Dog do anything it does not WANT to do. It's a simple fact Judy and I have proven time after time over a 25 year period of studying these animals. For a Singing Dog to revert to instinctual habits and traits is as easy as snapping your fingers. A millisecond is the time it can take for a perfectly friendly loving creature to change to a shy, avoidance seeking wild dog. Is this bad? Well, for those humans who think they're smarter than Nature, yes, it's bad. For those of us who respect wild animals for what they are, no, it is not bad. It is what we would expect of the animal. It is what we admire about the animal.
I think that wanting to procure a Singer as a companion for another dog in the house, is a mistake. Singers do not crave nor even care for, companionship with another dog other than another Singer. Sure, they are capable of tolerating another dog or even other dog(s) and may even become friends, but again, just how many other dogs did nature put in the wild for companions to Singers? Answer, none. Why, maybe the best canid won out? Our observations again from observing Singers all these years is, that for the most part, Singers don't really "like" other dogs. They just put up with them and are more friendly during breeding season. So, take away the hormones(s/n) and they become more tolerant. Singers and AUD are about as true a primitive as we'll ever find.
I can tell you one thing for sure. If you treat a Singing Dog the same way you treat a domestic dog by giving them fancy food, keeping them inside away from sunshine and fresh air and worrying about very little whimsical physical and psychological change, you will become frustrated and you will shorten the life of your Singer. They are the toughest canid on earth. They have had to be tough in order to survive in the wild. It's a simple thing. Look at what they have to eat in the wild. Look at the conditions where they flourish. Then compare the care you give yours with what is "natural" and you will get a better idea about the life experiences these animals should have in order to live long and healthy lives.
We have one Singer with whom I have worked for four years, yet I know for a fact that it would take her just a second to bolt out the gate and kill our Pug or a cat or if we were lucky, simply take off for the day and hunt on her own. It's there inside them and has been for thousands of generations and anyone who thinks differently is just plain stupid. yes there are exceptions so long as the basic instincts stay buried.
I have made another anecdotal observation. Of late, I have been asking our hired man to take almost sole care of the Singers. So of late, I have had little contact with them. Now it is very apparent that the Singers(not all of them) are much more reserved and shy around me, much more than they used to be. It is as though I am losing their trust. Linda(a rescue I believe to be a Jindo mix) is also extremely shy of late. What is this telling us about Singers and possibly about other Primitives as well?
It's not that our hired man mistreats the dogs, not al all, but the one thing I've observed is that he rarely talks to them and never TRIES to make friends with them. He's all business as far as doing the chores, getting them done. I think these dogs NEED and REQUIRE daily trust reinforcement. Without daily TLC, unless they are EXTREMELY socialized, they will rapidly regress behaviorally and begin shunning human contact.
See, first of all NGSD and AUD are not dogs. As the article says, AUD DNA is neither dog nor wolf, so if they're not a dog, but members of a separate species. Therefore, a NGSD or AUD cannot be considered a breed. Now then, even with severe inbreeding, they still would not be a breed. They would be a tamed wild animal, species Dingo. So nowadays the geneticists consider AUD as a species and NGSD as their sub-species. So, in truth, no matter how much "domestication" takes place, no matter how much their behavior, traits, coloration etc. is manipulated by humans, they will still remain a sub-species of Dingo and will never become a domestic dog, simply because genetically, they are not a dog. The only way any members of the either wild or captive population could be considered a "breed of dog" would be if there were some members tested whose DNA matched those of domestic dogs which means to me that they would have to be domestic dog/wild dog hybrids. But then you see, those members would no longer be NGSD or AUD at all, but rather they would be a mutt, mixed dog, hybrid, or cur, whatever a person wanted to call them. What needs to take place is to gather DNA samples from Singers in the wild and compare it to DNA taken from the captive population. That would yield some interesting and valuable information.
Invariably, someone will ask, "Well then, do Singing Dogs and Dingoes belong in zoos." My answer would be that they belong in any environment where they can be comfortable, safe, happy and healthy be it zoo, sanctuary, or private ownership.
I think I have been incomplete in some of my earlier thinking because I have always maintained that breeding for color is a form of domestication. Now, since these new DNA results are out, I have to change my stance a little bit. Breeding for color is artificially manipulating genes by inbreeding in order to produce some human desired color and it is a form of domestication in that all members are "cookie cutter" animals, but I think it ends there. It would take many generations of selective breeding to really make a major change in the basic drives. It's not going to happen any time soon, certainly not in our lifetimes. But if it does occur, the product will no longer be a NGSD or AUD. It will be a modified form and will be a "breed of dog" or if it is a result of mixing in domestic genes, it will be a hybrid.. A NGSD or AUD by definition must possess a very specific set of genes. Any variation from that specific set of genes will cause it to be something other than a NGSD or AUD. Humans can modify behavior all day long, but it takes a heck of a lot of modification to actually change DNA. Not likely. Not only that, out of a litter of say, 6 puppies, how many of them will have the "new" behavior? There is a formula for it. So how will a buyer know whether they're getting a "wild dog" or a member of a "new breed"? Pretty iffy and stupid, seems to me. What would be the motivation for reducing an animal from species or sub-species status down to being simply a member of a breed of dog? There are hundreds of breeds of dog. There are only TWO species and sub-species of Dingo. There may be more out there in the world, but considering hundreds of years of human interference, it's really kind of doubtful. Of course, those people who have a God complex would be elated to claim they have modified a product of nature.
If any one has a little trouble following all this dialogue, don't feel bad. I've been thinking about all this for 25 years, have worked with multiple numbers of Singing Dogs for 25 years on a daily basis, and I still find it a bit confusing at times. I can tell you one thing for certain, there is no book learning substitute for working with live subjects. There is no comparison in the degree of satisfaction garnered either. To be able to walk outside, sit down, interact with, and observe the goings on of 20-25 subjects is a blessed honor bestowed on few people. So if we're to break up this kennel and scatter 16 of our Singers to the four winds, I'm going to take advantage of every minute I have left with them. 8/31/2014 DE
Every so often someone asks about how long Singers live. Based on the data from our dogs we have had pass here in our facility during the last 25 years, our average life expectancy is 12 years, 6 months. The range is a low of 5 years and a high of 20. BTW, 20 is not the oldest Singing Dog recorded. There have been a couple who made it to 22. We had one highly inbred male who died at 5 years of age. We DID whelp a litter out of him and 4 of the litter died at under 4 years of age. One died within a year, one just over a year, another at 3 years and another at 5 years. These four specimens were not counted in our average age. This average age for NGSD includes all other specimens who have been raised here(approximately 30) and/or kept here from the time we rec'd them as adults(approximately 27) until they passed on. In other words, many of our Singers who have passed here(approximately 27) came from various backgrounds with numerous types of care and experiences. We've inherited them from zoos as well as private owners, so truthfully, our collection has probably been a pretty good representative cross-section of the captive population for those Singing Dogs housed in an outside environment. Only one of the Singers included in this compilation would have been considered an inside dog. 1/2/2014 Don Ehrlich
I have a few more stats to share with you. Of the 27 NGSD who have lived out their lives with us during the last 25 years, 15 of the 27 were females, 12 males. Of the 27, 7 were older than 15 years: 16,15, 20, 16, 16, 17, 16. The only NGSD who died unusually young(under 5 years) were all fathered by the one highly inbred male who also died at 5 years of age. I believe that originally there were some bloodlines entering and being bred in the U.S. and Canada which were predisposed to a shorter life expectancy. At this point in time the bloodlines are so intermingled that any meaningful analysis would be mute.
Anyone who wishes could quite easily do a longitudinal study of any selected bloodline mix they wished and then share it with the Singer world in 15-25 years like we're doing. It takes a long time to put together a longitudinal study, even one that's termed anecdotal. Don Ehrlich 1/4/2014
Singing Dogs As Companions
It is believed that Singing Dogs have been raised and kept as family pets and hunters for thousands of years. The first Singers were imported into the United States in 1958 and we have verification of Singers serving as family companions beginning in the 1960's. As interest in NGSD has increased, likewise so have the numbers that are being kept in homes.
All the guesswork about what happened thousands of years ago is just that, guesswork.. No one knows for sure. Personally, I think canines in a primitive form accompanied early travels to NG & AU. They co-existed with humans eating the scraps of food humans discarded and living alongside humans. Some went to AU and some went to NG.
Genetically speaking, Alan Wilton believed that all the NGSD and AUD evolved from a single litter. That means AUD and NGSD are equal biologically and are, therefore equal taxonomically. At least that's the way I see it based on Wilton's findings. The fact that AUD have species status and NGSD do not is unimportant. Some Australians want every Dingo dead so maybe NGSD are actually lucky. At least they're not being hunted, persecuted and poisoned.
I don't care if the wilds are full of NGSD which I'm sure they are not. The overall world population would still be sooo small that they have to be considered rare and endangered.
They are endangered because there is no other canine like them. No other canine looks just like them or acts just like them so they are, therefore, unique in the animal kingdom. Letting them go extinct would be a genetic loss.
The loss of genetic fiber is of major import.
If Singers go extinct, the world will lose something it will never be able to regain, even with Australian Dingoes. That is what is of importance here.
It is essential that everyone who meets a genetically diverse Singing Dog understands that they will never see another canine just like the one they are viewing. First of all, genetically diverse Singing Dogs(hereafter referred to as GDSD) are distinct from all other creatures known to man and second, each GDSD displays their uniqueness in an individual manner. Therefore, each individual GDSD is unique in and of itself. There are no two just exactly alike. One-of-a-kind.
Now then, this individual uniqueness is a good thing because in so doing, many genes are used, combined and displayed. These are characteristics of two groups of NGSD: the wild population AND the conservation breeding population.
The individual uniqueness is lost in the third Singer group which is the Singers who are being intentionally highly inbred. This is the "cookie cutter" population.
In this group, some genes are selected for display while others are selected for extinction.
You see, in this domestication scenario, man assumes the role of "genetic selector" deciding what genes will be eliminated and which genes will be enhanced.
Natural selection is eliminated.
Even genetic diversity, wherein a conscious effort is made to preserve all the genes, is non-existent.
So, the choice humans are going to face is whether to preserve the wild population, the genetically diverse population, or the intentionally altered domestic population.
These decisions will decide NGSD's fate.
As for all the legal questions, they will have to be decided as you go along 30-40-50 years from now. Even if genetically diversity is lost, NGSD will continue to exist in some mutated form for a number of years.
Don Ehrlich 7/27/2013
Singing Dogs and Water
Let's talk about human whims. Singers and water is one human whim Judy and I think is both humorous and at the same time a perfect example of molding Singers to be something unnatural in order to satisfy human needs and desires. A natural aversion to water might not be just an animal's conscious preference.
Water avoidance might be health related. Many skin problems and are immediately traceable to excessive exposure to high humidity. Problems such as ringworm and other fungus can be rampant in some animals exposed to high humidity. Both internal and external parasites can also become a problem. During the thousands of years of Singer evolution, Nature may have endowed them with water aversion so as not to aggravate existing issues or even bring on new issues.
So, if people are bound and determined to teach Singers how to swim(that's a sarcastic joke) please watch for symptoms of skin problems, (even simple dry skin), as well as internal and external parasites.
Our Singers rarely get fleas and ticks. We wonder if they might have a natural immunity in the form of oils in/on their skin? Wash off the oils and see what
happens. Also, some parasites thrive in humid conditions. A buildup of parasitic population will add to the probability of infestation on/within the animal.
Donald D. Ehrlich 7/14/2013
In A Nutshell
Judy and I have lived at our current address for a good long time. We started with Singing Dogs in 1989. We're currently taking care of 23 Singers. Our 2010 Singer litters were our first in 9 years. We are always looking for other who will help us keep Singers alive because NGSD are a thousands of year old canine landrace matched only by their sister taxon the Australian Dingo.
This is a picture of Judy and I taken in 2007.
Judy and I have operated a canine breeding kennel since 1987. We would like to dedicate this website to the myriad number of wonderful dogs that we had the privilege of knowing over the years.
New Guinea Singing Dogs entered our lives in 1989.
Judy was teaching school and I managed our family pet store.
One afternoon a lady walked into the store carrying two puppies.
The moment I saw the puppies my life changed. There was a magnetism about them that simply took a hold of me and has never let go for 21 years.
I ended up paying $25.00 each for the puppies.
The lady said she had to sell them because they were six weeks old and stalking her chickens.
She also told me they were Dingoes and that she'd purchased them from the Center Zoo in Clay Center, Kansas.
I've never seen that lady again. Wouldn't know her if I saw her on the street, but what she did that day has had a most profound affect on our lives.
After she left the store I watched the two pups play behind the counter and a dozen questions ran through my head.
The first was: "What do they eat?"
Another was, "Just what are they anyway??"
"Are they really Dingoes?" "No, I don't think so."
"There aren't any Dingoes in the United States, are there?"
"Then what are they?"
"How do I find out how they're named?"
"Is it legal for us to own them since they came from a zoo?"
"What vaccinations do they need?"
"What special care do they require?"
Back then we didn't have computers to go to for answers.
There were people, telephones, letters, and books.
For the rest of the day, customers would come into the store and ask, "Whatcha have there?" I'd reply, "Well, I'm not quite sure."
At some point during the day, I turned around in my desk chair and saw a book on the shelf about rare dog breeds.
I took it down and looked in the index actually not expecting to find anything.
The index did me no good so I paged through the book studying each breed.
Finally, I stopped flipping pages.
There, in front of me, was a photo of a New Guinea Singing Dog and below the photo was a reference to Sedgwick County Zoo in Wichita, Kansas.
We were in Emporia, Kansas so that made Wichita about 90 miles away.
I stared at the picture and read every word in the short paragraph.
"I believe they're New guinea Singing Dogs", I said to myself.
There was no information about their care , but it appeared that I had purchased two New Guinea Singing Dogs.
One question was whether or not we could legally own the dogs?
I called Kansas Fish and Game.
They'd never heard of New Guinea Singing Dogs, but they were pretty sure our exotics license would cover them.
We weren't USDA licensed at that time and the Kansas state kennel regulations had yet to be written, so we felt pretty secure with the Fish and Game Commission decision.
We'd taken out the exotics license so we could buy, sell and trade animals for our pet store..
We figured if the license covered big cats and bears, it ought to be good enough for two of these doglike critters.
That night we fed them dry dog food and took care of them like we would any other dog.
The next morning I called the zoo at Clay Center, Kansas.
Clay Center Zoo had owned Singers for a number of years. They did indeed call them "Dingoes".
The zoo had a pair of adults, but the female was a hybrid, as were our two puppies.
The zoo keeper told me what shots they needed and gave me all the information for taking care of them..
We named the new puppies Keech and Kema.
They were great dogs. They were loving and friendly.
They had a look and style about the like we'd never seen before.
We were so happy and proud of them!
The next year or so took our Son and myself to Sedgwick County Zoo where we learned more about Singers, were able to see two, still in quarantine, who they'd just brought over from Toronga Park in Sydney, Australia. Their names were Madang and ________. We ascertained for a certainty that we did, in fact, have NGSD.
Through Sedgwick County Zoo we were able to find Dr. I. Lehr Brisbin, a Singer pioneer who has written several seminal articles regarding Singing Dogs.
We still treasure the very first hand written letter that we received from "Bris" back in 1990.
In the early 1990's there were only three or four of us in the United States who were interested in these dogs. It was a small but dedicated group.
We ended up buying the entire hybrid Singer litter from Clay Center Zoo the following season.(We found out that Singers only breed once a year.) Then we re-established Clay Center Zoo's purebred Singer stock by trading them a new male for their "Old Dingo" and providing them with a young female pup. In this way we were able to eliminate the hybridization and get pure Singers back in public view.
Using Clay Center's records, we were able to trace their lineage way back to the San Diego Zoo stock(San Diego Zoo had the first NGSD in the U.S.).
We will be forever grateful to Deb and the Clay Center Zoo for their help and friendship over the years.
Well, that's the story of how we started with New Guinea Singing Dogs..
This website is the culmination of many years of taking care of, loving, admiring and conserving New Guinea Singing Dogs. The work on this site will end only when I am no longer able to type or dictate. It's what you might call "an ongoing work"...
Donald D. Ehrlich
A SHORTER VERSION
It was the Fall of 1989 and we'd just gotten two puppies, a male and
I named them Keech and Kema and they came from the Clay
First thing I did was grab a book off the shelf.
It was "A Celebration of Rare Breeds" Vol.I by Cathy A. Flamholtz.
In my mind I was pretty sure they weren't Dingos because I hadn't heard of any being in the U.S... "So what are they?"
I paged through Cathy's book and I saw a picture first.
It was a picture of New Guinea Singing Dogs at the Sedgwick County Zoo at Wichita, KS..
There were people in the store. I hollered out loud, "That's
them!!!!! They're New Guinea Singing Dogs."
After reading about them I decided I'd better call Clay Center Zoo...
"Hello. Yes, we have wild dogs here at the Zoo. They're Dingos."
Years later I found out that another name for New Guinea Singing Dogs is New Guinea Dingo!
"Have they had shots?
What do they eat?
Is it legal for us to own them?."
I asked many questions.
I took home my new puppies.
We gave them shots and food and
fell in love.
We kept them in a four foot high enclosure.
We learned the hard way that a four foot fence won't hold even an adolescent Singer.
One day while we were gone from the house, they climbed out of the pen.
We were big time into fancy show rabbits.
We owned several hundred rabbits kept in cages not on the ground, but only up a foot or so.
Keech and Kema went along the pens methodically opening each pen and killing the occupants.
We lost over 150 quality show rabbits that day.
Never in our lives have we been so sick as we were that evening when we returned home.
Keech and Kema greeted us as though we were long lost
friends and I guess we were because we petted them and talked with them as we picked up dead rabbits, crying non-stop the whole time.
I found out that we were legal because we had an exotics breeder
license which covered us.
No one at the state level had ever heard of New Guinea Singing Dogs.
THE HISTORY OF DOMESTICATION FOR NEW GUINEA SINGING DOGS
From 1989 until 2009, no one really gave much, if any, thought to changing Singing Dogs from their natural state to a superficial, human selected state. Everyone in Singerdom was in love with Singers just as nature intended them to be. In 2009, several people came on the scene who were obsessed by black and tan Singers. There were only a few in existence and suddenly they became popular. Guzoo Animal Farm located at Three Lakes, Alberta, Canada was owned by the Chris Gustofson family and was the first facility to take an active role in selective breeding of Singing Dogs. Guzoo wanted to make black and tan Singers. They succeeded and in the Fall of 2011, one of their Singing Dog bitches threw a black and tan colored puppy. This event was the first time this author had ever witnessed the act of human manipulation of genes in New Guinea Singing Dogs in order to produce a specific coloration.
The next move toward domestication of NGSD came in the Summer of 2012 when a lady hailing from Newark, OH, U.S.A. announced publicly in an "open" Facebook forum on the internet that her NGSD would be producing at least one Fall litter of Singer puppies and that her breeding stock was selectively bred to the highest standards for conformity, health, and temperament. Uh huh! The beginnings of domestication. "selectively bred to the highest standards."
You have to take this Singing Dog count with a little tongue-in-cheek because there's a lot of guesswork in it. No one knows who all owns Singing Dogs. Some people are really secretive about it and others are transparent. New ones seem to pop up every so often, but the numbers are never large. Then too, I didn't count the Singers who are being selectively bred in order to bring specific traits and being sold for profit. They appear to still be pure Singing Dogs, but due to the selective manipulation of their genes and the breeder's concentration of the genes rather than diversification of them, they have entered into the world of domesticated dog breeds. They aren't really Singing Dogs, at least they're not authentic Singing Dogs that qualify as a sub-species. They are on their way to actually becoming a domesticated breed of Singing Dog. I'm sure other people have dealt with this same kind of thing but all other dogs are considered breeds already. Only the Dingo is considered a species and the NGSD considered a sub-species. All the rest are designated as breeds. The breeders making the new Singer breed are being very quiet about it so we really have no idea about how many have been produced. Once the new breed is established and a breed club set up, then the Domestic Singer supporters can petition registries such as UKC for inclusion in their registry and shows. When that time comes, the split between Domestic NGSD and Natural NGSD will be quite apparent. The Domestic people can still add "new" blood as can the Natural supporters. It's not for me to say who is right or wrong in all this or pass judgement. Yes, of course Judy and I have our feelings and opinions. To have spent 24 years taking care to diversify genes as much as possible and basically to keep the captive population alive and then to see new people come in, take over, disregard all we say and use and totally reverse our work and sell puppies for profit is, of course, frustrating and we don't agree with it. On the other hand, who's to say how things should evolve. Maybe it's in God's plan to take evolution out of the hands of natural selection and give it to humans to decide. We don't know. As for there being Singing Dogs in the wild, I still say, if there are so many, then why can't someone catch a few or even snap a picture or two? With Singing Dogs, their howl makes one sound like several. One family of Singers could make enough noise for listeners to think there were 10 instead of 5 so all this information must be taken with a grain of salt.
A BRIEF EXPLANATION OF NGSD TAXONOMIC CLASSIFICATION
In looking up the current classification for NGSD I found that both Canis lupus hallstromi and Canis lupus dingo are being used.
In the biological/scientific community, Singing Dogs are considered a sub-species of wolf.
You have Canis lupus familiaris(dog,Clf), Canis lupus dingo(Generally considered the Australian version,Cld) and Canis lupus hallstromi(Singers,Clh).
It matters not whether NGSD is dingo or hallstromi so long as it's one or the other.
It is ESSENTIAL to have this sort of classification in order for zoos, sanctuaries and other organizations to realize the precarious situation currently confronting Singing Dogs and to take steps to preserve/conserve them in order to prevent extinction.
It is also important to understand that there still exist Singing Dogs in the wilds of New Guinea and that these animals have thrived in the New Guinea environment for many thousands of years.
NGSD are, therefore, an ancient form of wildlife which helps make up the total ecological collection of flora and fauna of New Guinea.
NGSD should be, if they are not, considered a national treasure by the government and people of that island.
Even though they carry the word "dog" in their name, it is important to understand that Singing Dogs are not really dogs.
They are a canine, but they are one evolutionary step up from dogs.
Taxonomically they lie between wolf and dog.
They are not a link between the two either, because Singing Dog as well as Dingo, lived in isolation for eons and thus did not influence evolutionary change in other canines.
So what we have here is a strain of canine who was isolated from the rest of the world for thousands of years during which time their senses, intelligence, agility and overall abilities were improved with each annual generation by nature's natural selection or survival of the fittest.
Having lived in the wilds of New Guinea for thousands of years, it is no wonder that this apex predator of the New Guinea island has developed into a most efficient hunter and master at survival.
Additionally, NGSD are so plastic and flexible in their demeanor, most likely due to their high level of intelligence, that they have adapted to zoo, sanctuary, and even domestic life as companion dogs.
This is truly a remarkable wild animal as well as one of man's best friends.
Donald D. Ehrlich
INFORMATION WORTHY OF BEING INCLUDED IN NGSD HISTORY
Contributors of New Guinea Singing Dog History
The list of people who have contributed to the cause of saving NGSD is much longer than most of us realize. We tend to only see the published articles and books and overlook the unpublished observations. These "unsung Singer heros" offer a wealth of information and need to be forever recorded in Singer History.
I am posting a quote from a personal letter Judy and I received November 1st, 2000.
The letter was from James K. McIntyre, a long time and tireless explorer, researcher, scientist and friend to New Guinea Dingoes.
Judy and I had previously written an article for the NGSD Forum which was the official newsletter of the New Guinea Singing Dog Conservation Society.
The article discussed ideas, hypotheses, and experiences we'd had in regard to NGSD hunting abilities.
No one recorded had/has ever seen a wild NGSD hunting on their own so everything said were simply educated guesses.
This then, is James McIntyre's response to our article.
"The more remote into the PNG Highlands I got the more the village dogs resembled the phenotype of NGSDs. They did not keep these dogs, per say, as pets, but did have certain dogs that they would look for before embarking on hunting trips further into the bush. Their prey would be anything from pigeons to cassowaries, to wild hogs to cus cus, with the most prized trophy being the wild dog itself.
These dogs were not "trained" but valued for what came to them "naturally". That is, track prey with their keen sense of smell, spot cus cus up in the trees with their eyesight, run down wild hogs and cassowaries with their speed, and avoid injury from these two by their agility.
These dogs would jump in the air and catch unlucky birds or run down and mouth catch any cus cus that was unlucky enough to be on the ground when they came their way.
My only advice is to take the dogs out where there is plenty of game(squirrels, rabbits, birds, etc.) turn them lose, watch and be amazed.
They tend to be so involved with their seek and hunt activities you may want to be in a fenced area or be very confident with your recall skills as these hunters tend to "focus" on this enjoyable task and may not hear your commands."
On behalf of NGSD everywhere, Judy and I want to thank this gentleman, James K. McIntyre for his tremendous contributions to better understanding the dogs we so admire.
Don & Judy in Kansas
Here's another one: For years and years my wife and I thought we held the largest group of Singers in the world.
In 2006 we discovered that we did not, in fact, hold the greatest number of Singers in the world.
John and Suzette Jones of Oakwold Kennel located at Hickory Corners, MI held the largest collection.
The most we'd ever owned was 23 or so.
John & Suzette owned 38.
The other amazingly unique thing about the Jones was that they exercised all 38 of the NGSD together in a large pen everyday.
No one has ever, other than the Jones, held so many and exercised them together.
In order to accomplish such a feat, John Jones had to establish himself as the Alpha Dog. In that manner, he exerted control over all of the dogs. By being the Alpha, he broke up fights and promoted social order.
Oakwold Kennel is now defunct, but will forever remain in Singer history.
There are video tapes showing the Jones dogs interacting and are well worth watching.
Oakwold ceased to exist in 2008-9.
Here is another contributor to Singer history that has been overlooked:
CLAY CENTER ZOO CHRONOLOGICAL HISTORY FOR NEW GUINEA SINGING DOGS AKA NEW GUINEA WILD DOGS AKA NEW GUINEA DINGOES
These are the correct dates for everything. I dug out all the old paperwork. Some of the dates are a little different than what I'd been guessing at earlier.
1966 Clay Center Zoo rec'd their pair of NGSD from Great Bend Zoo who had gotten them from San Diego Zoo. Clay Center traded them a Rhesus Monkey. Its name was Jocko.
1967-1976 Purebred Singer pups were produced annually and sold or given away.
1972 Hoslers acquired Maoke
1973 Hoslers acquired Piggy
1975 Old Dingo was born. He was the next to the last purebred Singer born at Clay Center until 1993.
1976 Last purebred male Singer was born. He was acquired by Hoslers(Grendel).
1976 Last purebred female Singer at Clay Center died.
1977 Was replaced by a hybrid given to them by an individual who had gotten a Singer puppy and had bred him to a Collie.
1977-1990 Hybrid litters were sold and given away. Sire: Old Dingo Dam: Either Lady or their daughter Bitty.
1989 We purchased our first two Singer hybrid puppies.(Keech & Kema)
1990 We purchased all four of the Old Dingo/Bitty hybrid puppies.(Klay, Koach, Kia, &
Koma) All hybrids were spayed and neutered.
1991 We acquired Old Dingo.
1991 Also acquired Giluwe from Bris. Bred Old Dingo & Giluwe. Had our first litter.(Puppies on the stairs photo)
1991 Brisbin declared Old Dingo as pure(documented him).
1991-1993 We provided Clay Center Zoo with a pair of purebred NGSD.
I guess we acquired Old Dingo when he was 16. (I've thought for years that he was only 14.)
Old Dingo sired his last litter when he was 16 years old.
He didn't start shooting blanks until he was 18.(I've thought for years that he was 16, but not so)
He died at 20 years and a month and a day.
2009 Both Clay Center Zoo Singers that we gave them circa 1991-1993 are now deceased.
2009 Clay Center Zoo Singer History File Closed FOR NOW UNTIL WE GET MORE INFORMATION, THEN WE'LL REOPEN THE FILE AND REDO IT ALL OVER AGAIN.
More NGSD history that has been overlooked in other authors' accounts:
In addition to Sedgwick Co. Zoo and K.C. Zoo several small zoos in Kansas also received dispersal stock from S.D. Zoo.
One example was the Great Bend, KS Zoo which traded a NGSD to the Clay Center, KS Zoo. I believe the trade was for a monkey.
About Madang, Maddie, and Olga
Olga was a founder imported from Germany by Sedgwick County Zoo in Wichita, KS.
Madang was another founder who was imported from Taronga Park Zoo in Sydney, AU.
Madang was imported together with his mate late in 1990. He was born at Taronga Zoo, Sydney, AU on April 7th, 1988.
Madang and his mate were the two Singers that our son and I saw in quarantine at Sedgwick County Zoo.
In trying to find out what I had purchased from the lady who came into the pet store with two puppies in her arms I called the Sedgwick County Zoo.
I had found a photo of Sedgwick County Singers in the Book, “A Celebration Of Rare Breeds’ by Cathy Flamholtz.
Our son and I drove to Wichita in order to see Singers in person and to verify what I had purchased.
The zoo people were very cordial and open.
They allowed us to go into their quarantine building in order to look at Madang and his mate.
They were striking animals and we knew for sure, the second we saw them, that I had purchased Singing Dog puppies.
The female who was imported with Madang died prematurely and unexpectedly before she could be bred, so SCZ kept back a female from a Dinkum(Also a founder imported from Taronga Park, Sydney.) to Olga(Founder from Germany)mating. They named her Maddie.
Maddie matured and was then bred to Madang.
A male by the name of Samari was born from that mating on Nov. 3rd, 1993. There may have been other puppies as well.
We rec’d four Singers from Sedgwick County and K.C. Zoos during the period 1994-1996. It was our intention to help conserve these animals since zoos were no longer interested. We rec’d: Olga, Madang, Maddie and Samari.
I’m not sure where this part about old Dingo goes in your timeline, but here’s the straight poop.
In 1989 when we realized we had purchased 2 hybrids, we were disturbed that a zoo would allow such a cross to take place so we worked out a plan whereby we could help get Clay Center, KS Zoo back into purebred Singers. The next year we purchased all the puppies from them and had them sterilized as we’d done with our first two that I'd purchased from the lady who came into the pet store.
Our son and I drove down to SC to Dr. Brisbin’s Swamp Fox Sanctuary and procured a male(Weyland) who we traded to Clay Center Zoo for Old Dingo.
We received Old Dingo when he was 16 years of age.
We mated him with a mature female we carried back from Dr. Brisbin’s(Giluwe) and produced our first litter of Singer puppies in 1991.
One of the female puppies was given to Clay Center, KS Zoo for breeding to Weyland.
Old Dingo sired his last litter when he was 18.
He had one of the longest lives of any Singer on record.
He chalked up 20 years, a month and a day.
We finally had no choice but to euthanize him because we could no longer control his pain and suffering. He had a huge rectal abscess and a large hernia. We could not operate on him because at his age we feared he would have cardiac arrest on the table during the operation.
My name, oldsingerman20 is a tribute to that wonderful old dog that we loved so much.
Old Dingo’s records were complete way back to when his ancestors were disbursed from the S.D. Zoo in 1961-62 so it was an simple task for Dr. Brisbin to declare him as purebred.
Old Dingo was the start of the 4th North American Foundation Stock Bloodline.
The Old Dingo bloodline is one of the rarest. There are only a few members in his downline.
The Madang bloodline is also fairly rare, but has been severely watered down by the Dinkum/Olga line.
Both of these dogs: Madang and Old Dingo although rare and prized for their unique bloodlines have, interestingly enough, been omitted by authors of NGSD history until now in this account.
The Hosler Family Story
The Jay Hosler family of Santa Cruz, CA were early pioneers with Singers, yet there's not a mention of them in Singer history.
Here, in brief, is Jay Hosler's recount of their many years with Singing Dogs.
Starting in late 1972 we had a dynasty of NGSD, from 3 dogs we got from the zoo in Clay Center KS.
The dogs lived in the house with full-time access to our fenced outdoor pool yard.
The last died in 1985, cut short untimely on the road after escaping.
These dogs were brilliant, heartbreakingly affectionate with us, athletic, tuneful.
We are immeasurably richer for them.
But after they were gone we switched to domestic dogs.
Our Singers were great subjects and fantastic friends but challenging pets, as every owner knows.
They irritated all the within-earshot neighbors in our suburban house in LA.
Because of the dogs we bought recently deceased rabbits, chickens, kittens, sheep, and more I've mercifully forgotten.
A 5-boy household provides lots of escape opportunities, and every time a dog got out something bad was likely to happen. We have paid our Singer dues.
Details: we took three 8-wk pups from the zoo: Maoke (F) in Dec 72;
Piggy (F) in May 73; and, after much debate about whether we really
wanted to breed them, Grendel (M) in Jan 76.(Remember that all three of these would be brother/sisters)
Maoke was killed on the road in 1974, leaving us with a mixed litter, the result of an earlier escape.
Piggy and Grendel produced one pup in 1979, (Rosemary, F), and
3 more in 1980 (Brownie, Runtso, Simon), all M.(Note the small litter sizes)
Runtso and Simon were black and tan. The other dogs were all conventionally tawny with white points.
Rosemary and Grendel produced one pup (Nif, F) in 1980. Eight
dogs: 4 F, 4 M. All fabulous.
We gave away our 1973 mixed litter easily - all cute, all smart, two
howlers and a barker.
We gave away one intact purebred (Simon) to a dog-expert friend who had known our dogs well.
We put down Rosemary, a wonderful dog, the most beautiful of them all, because we had to choose between her and Piggy: one was going to kill the other.
Grendel had testicular cancer (also an undescended testicle, also present in Runtso) and died in about 1982.
Brownie and Runtso were killed on the road after escaping.
Piggy lived a long life, until she was deaf and almost blind, and died at about 12.
The females lived for escape.
All the dogs became expert at timing the interval between the opening of a door and its subsequent closing.
If the interval extended beyond the norm, they headed for the door.
Every time a dog escaped, something bad was likely to happen.
All the dogs were totally bonded to us, including our zoo dogs. Piggy was somewhat more reserved than the other two zoo pups, but Maoke and Grendel were as bonded to us and as unreserved in their behavior as our own pups.
All the females were brilliant, but Maoke remains the smartest animal I have ever known.
Maoke dragged a chair to a chain link fence, and if I hadn't intervened in astonishment, was going to use it to scale the fence.
Doesn't that constitute tool use? Dogs don't use tools?
I posted about aggressiveness toward small children.
The dogs never saw our kids as possible prey, but Piggy made preliminary predatory gestures toward a visiting infant.
On the other hand, my 18-month niece stumbled over Grendel, asleep on the floor, and didn't provoke so much as a growl.
Santa Cruz, CA
MORE INFORMATION ABOUT SINGERS
Here are some thoughts about old age in Singers:
Bare in mind that Judy and I are not scientists and have only
completed a few formal studies and that they involved humans and not animals while and after we were working on our degrees. Also bear in mind that we are not published, so these ideas of ours are only ideas and not rock bottom facts supported by tons of emphirical evidence, but here's more of what we think and have observed:
There are several factors involved in old age snarliness. Loss of
senses, level of human and other animal socialization, intelligence,
prior experience, and pain level. Keeping in mind that a NGSD is
usually quite intelligent and has wild instincts, place yourself in
their shoes. If you have lost your hearing, your sense of smell is
impaired, and you're mostly blind and you get bumped by this big
object, would you react? You'd probably be startled. You'd probably back away and try to move a bit. If you felt you couldn't move, you'd probably use the only defense you have and that would be to warn the object to leave you alone. You might nip at it. You can't tell for sure where it is, so you might accidently nip it. If you're n pain and don't feel well, you just want to be left alone. Or
maybe you're just really tired of playing puppy games and just want
to soak up the sun. Add this to a loos of acute senses and you may
be a bit cranky. If, however, the big object talks to you very
quietly and convinces you it's not going to harm you, and then gently caresses you and touches your hair, especially just under your ears, the touch makes you feel better and you realize that it's your buddy who's coming up to you and wow, that's OK. Your sense of being touched is still unimpaired and the slightest touch of even a few hairs is like getting hit with a block of wood, just barely touching you will send you through the roof. So instead of nipping at a would be hazard, you rub up against it and say, "Thank you dear friend for adding one more good feeling to my life.
The two worst bites I have ever received in my life were from one of
my best Singer friends, Old Dingo, when he was 16 years old. I tried
to pick him up without using any protective padding around my body or
on my hands and arms. He'd actually been pulled through the opening
in a chain link gate. The Husky had pulled him so hard that he
sprung open the gate.
The opening on the side where the gate latched was about wide enough
for the Husky to barely insert his nose. He apparently grabbed the
Old Man and started pulling.. He was a large Husky and powerful. He
had shown no prior agression to any of the other dogs or to humans.
He pulled so hard that he swiveled the gate latch where it clamped on
to the gate frame. I had personally tightened those bolts and they
We heard the noise and I ran out to the pens. I went in and picked
up the Husky biting and writhing about, kept my face out of his
head's turning radious and delivered him to another pen.
I went back to survey the damage. The Old Man was lying there in a
pile of torn skin and blood. Having already been warned by a lady
friend of our's who'd been severely bitten in the face when she
leaned over and woke up her old Doberman. I kept my face away. I
very gently picked up the Old Man just behind his front legs thinking
I could pick him up without being bitten. I was wrong! He wretched
loose in an instant and grabbed my left hand. The pain was horrible,
but I hollered in my young Son to open gates and the door to the
garage so could move quickly. Still with him attached to my hand we
went as swiftly as my legs could carry me to the garage to a whelping
box. When I let him down in the box, he released my hand and I
stumbled back away from him.
2-3 weeks later, he was healing nicely. We had nursed him and
patched up his wounds.
He was up on his feet and seemed to be OK. We hadn't taken him to a
vet because we'd ascertained that he didn't have any broken bones and
we treated him ourselves. I didn't go to the doctor either, but had
taken antibiotics and washed out my wound and treated it. We'd have
been reported for a dog bite and didn't want the Old Man to be
quarantined. He had bitten clean through my hand from the palm out
and including the thumb and I had some nerve, muscle and bone damage
to my left hand and left thumb. I'd had a similar wound on my right
hand when I was a teenager when I'd tried to pick up a wild raccoon
by the knap of it's neck. That was really dumb!
At any rate, about three weeks after the original mishap, I gently
picked him up again and moved him back to a pen. We had changed the
pens around so there was a solid fence between the Husky and the Old
Man so we were confident that they'd be fine.
We were wrong again. This time the Husky tore a hole in the
chainlink and ravaged him again.
We repeated the rescue! I quickly slipped on a pair of leather
gloves and over them a heavy pair of leather welder's gloves and
proceeded to again gently pick up the old man. Same story as
before. He grabbed me in the exact same spot and bit through those
gloves like scraps of paper. The pain was really, really bad
because I hadn't healed as fast as he had and I still had severe
bruising. Oh my Goodness Sakes. To this day, I have never had a
bite like that second one.
I carried him again to the garage and he again let go of my hand. Oh
In the following weeks the Old Man and I healed together. He became
my best friend and I had learned a few things about handling wounded
animals and about their biting abilities.
Trust me, the old Man had extremely sharp teeth even at age 16. I
respected him ever so much. When he died at age 20 years and a
month, he still had good, sharp teeth but he'd taught me a lesson
I've never forgotten.
I still have scars on my left hand and my left thumb still doesn't
work properly. Never underestimate a dog's pain or their ability to
protect themselves. Try to use your brain and put yourself in their
Here's another email:
Hi Sarah, You may never know Harley's true makeup. DNA testing is a definite possibility, but not absolute either.
As far as behavior, she sure does Singer stuff.
Regarding her ears, NGSD ears are generally upright, then they can pitch them forward or slightly turn them in order to pick up the most minute sounds. They're like a dish used to draw in any sound. Laying them back simply defeats the purpose. I don't believe anyone has ever done any real research on Singer senses, but if they ever do, their findings will rank NGSD as having amazing sense strengths. One reason they are so jumpy when they're young is that their senses are so acute that every little sound, smell, etc. is taken in and although they are super smart, their intelligence is still lagging a bit behind their ability to pick up the sounds and smells and they have to have a moment to sort them out. That is why, when dealing with even an old Singer, a person should, if you're going to handle them, warn them first by either vocal warning(soft talk) or light touch. Sensitive is the key word here. Super sensitive is an even better way to put it. Even their sense of taste is highly sophisticated and coupled with their sense of smell, you have an animal that is hard to fool. That's why some experiments with them regarding food have not worked. They're just plain better equipped to discern smells and tastes than the researcher. They are remarkable trackers and that's why they have survived. Man has been their only true enemy. Another reason for their jumpiness is that they have evolved to shy away from danger. A Singer will try to get away first and stand and fight second. They're not generally aggressive. They will run away if they can. The only time we have ever observed them as being truly aggressive is in regard to food and even then, it's a rare Singer who will be food aggressive. Protective yes, agressive, no. There's a big difference. How they act in a pack is another matter and no one really knows the answer to that one. All research, what tiny little bit that there is, has been artificially set up in captivity. No research has really been conducted in the wild, at least that I know of. Native villagers have the best knowledge. I think that in the wild, NGSD are more like shadows. Just a brief glimpse now and again. If you add domestic dog to the ingredients, then you have a whole nuther animal. Domestic dogs are much different. Much more dangerous. Again, their behaviors in the wild and in say, a ten generation born in captivity dog will be quite different. NGSD are so very complicated due to their acute senses, prey drive, intelligence, and unpredictable behavior and that in itself is what makes them desireable. Add their good looks and small size to this and you have a most desireable animal. Now factor in their natural physical abilities and the fact that they are super, super healthy, without need of a vet every five minutes, and you have a truly remarkable animal. Singer health problems are the result of inbreeding and the attempt to domesticate them, In the wild, only the strong survive and all the weaknesses are filtered out. Not so in captivity. We haven't touched on how they will groom each other or how they combat fleas and ticks.
You notice here that I have not used the word pet. Pet, to Judy and I is a bad word. A "P" word, if you will. Singers are not pets. They are companions. They are here for mankind to behold and sadly, to ruin. Some of us still cling to the idea of seeing them in their own environment. Alas, when I die, please think of me hovering over Africa and New Guinea, soaking up all the wonderful feelings I was never able to absorb when I was alive. And better yet, perhaps I will be as some New Guinea Natives believe, reincarnated as a Singer. We could do worse!
I've never done a necropse on a Singer, but know that they have scent glands on both sides of their head. They use them to designate ownership..
1500’s-The Island of New Guinea was visited by Portuguese sailors.
1600’s-Dutch settlers and merchants began colonization.
1700’s-The British influence in New Guinea became apparent.
Status of Singing Dogs at that time: Widely dispersed throughout the Island.
Two separate types: Lowland Singers and Highland Singers.
So began the decline of the New Guinea Dingo population.
As soon as settlers started arriving with their domestic dogs, pure wild Singer numbers began to decrease and hybridization began. “To date, the only true enemy to Singing Dogs has been mankind.” (Donald D. Ehrlich 1994)
1897-The first New Guinea Singing Dog was taken from New Guinea for scientific study. It was killed for study as was the custom back then.
Its color was black with white markings.
1897-1911-The single NGSD specimen lay dormant, unstudied.
1911-It was examined by two different people: C.W. DeVis & Wood Jones.
1911-1928-The single specimen again lay dormant and unstudied.
1928-It was studied by H.A. Longman.
1928-1954-It again lay dormant and unstudied. No other research either in a laboratory or in the wild was conducted.
1954-Ellis Troughton captured, albeit briefly, two Singers.
1956-A pair was captured by Albert Speer and J.P. Sinclair.
1956-1957-The pair was studied(alive)by Sir Edward Hallstrom.
1957-This pair was sent to Taronga Park Zoo in Sydney, Australia where they were encouraged to reproduce.
19??-A single female was captured by H. Clissold. Clissold sent the dog to Taronga Park Zoo.
1958-1959-The first pair of NGSD was sent from Taronga Park to San Diego Zoo.
1961-San Diego Zoo began dispersing Singers to other U.S. zoos.
1966-As a single example, a small zoo by the name of Clay Center Zoo in Clay Center, Kansas acquired a pair.
1966-Clay Center Zoo as well as several other zoos in the U.S. were trading and selling Singing Dogs to the public and to other zoos and exotic breeders. They were often referred to as New Guinea Dingoes or New Guinea Wild Dogs.
1967-Kathleen Kirchner then living in California, purchased a black and tan Singer from an exotics dealer in CA. The reason for the sale as given Kathleen by the dealer was that the B&T was an undesirable variant of the “New Guinea Wild Dog.” Kathleen enjoyed her Singer as a companion dog. When she left California she gave him to a man “up north” and lost track of him.
1972-1976 and later-Singer pioneers like the Jay Hosler family in California purchased Singers as pets and/or as breeding stock.
1976-Five NGSD were captured by a German expedition and sent to Kiel, Germany.
1980-A single male was imported to the U.S. from Taronga Park.
From circa 1980 through the 1990’s most Singing Dogs were held predominately by a very small number of dedicated individuals. They were showmen, conservators, and enthusiasts who loved their dogs like no other and had it not been for these few people’s efforts, there would be no Singers today.
There was a small population held by zoos, but for the most part, the old, original U.S. Singer population had died out and saved stock was either given to zoos by individuals who’d had the foresight to conserve them or in some cases a few zoos were encouraged to import new blood. The few pioneers who held and bred NGSD collections looked to Zoos for continued support and conservation and therefore entrusted a fair number of NGSD to zoos for preservation.
1987-A pair was imported to the U.S. from the German holdings.
1987-A male and five females were imported to Canada from Taronga Park.
1989-The Old Dingo bloodline was rediscovered at Clay Center Zoo, Clay Center, Kansas. This Singer bloodline had been isolated from mainstream breeding for many, many years. The major significance of that finding was that it is the only U.S. bloodline uncovered to date that may be traced clear back to the original San Diego Zoo pair.
The Old Dingo line was integrated into Don & Judy Ehrlich’s Singing Dog Preservation Breeding Program which consisted of a collection of 22 NGSD.
1990-A pair was imported to Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita, Kansas from Taronga Park, AU.
1993-Most U.S. Zoos began purging their Singer stock and generally sold them or gave them away to private owners and breeders. For the most part zoos were emptied of Singing Dogs. Preservation and conservation of NGSD was no longer a zoo interest or option. Singers were suddenly no longer considered a “Zoo Animal”..
Singers were thrust back out into the private sector.
1993-2006-NGSD had a laissez faire existence. Several persons continued the championing of the Singer cause and made slow and sporadic head way. Public awareness was increased. General interest began to blossom. Zoos began taking a harder look at this dog they once threw away. Singer interest was again on the move.
1995- Some limited research was carried on in New Guinea by Robert Bino.
1996-James K. McIntyre of Florida conducted a most interesting expedition to New Guinea in search of NGSD AKA Hallstrom’s Dog aka New Guinea Highland Dog. He was not able to snare any but did find numerous sign and interviewed Natives who had heard them, seen them, hunted and killed them and eaten them.
2006-Reports from the wilds of New Guinea were mixed. Some wild Singers were reported. Hope for a wild population was reignited.
2006-The Oakwold Kennel in Hickory Corners, MI had the largest collection of Singers yet assembled eclipsing even the Ehrlich collection in KS.
Most of the Oakwold Singers were rescues from all over America. A grand total of 38 Singing Dogs graced the kennel. Additionally, that huge group was allowed to run together daily for short periods of time in a supervised exercise program. Nothing of this nature had ever, nor has it ever, since been attempted and/or accomplished. Thankfully there exists video footage of that historic endeavor!
2006-There seemed to be a definite revival in Singer interest. Zoos were once again asking for NGSD for display. Individuals were finally discovering what a superb companion a Singer could become.
2007-12 NGSD were rehomed by NGSDCS from Oakwold Kennel in Hickory Corners, MI. John Jones owner.
2008------18 NGSD were rehomed from Oakwold Kennel in Hickory Corners, MI. The Kennel was owned by a man by the name of John Jones. This was the largest rescue to date of Hallstrom’s Dogs ever attempted and/or accomplished.
2008-NGSDCS verified “AS PURE” the Tsumi-Two Spot bloodline thus adding four more NGSD to the existing “pure” captive breeding program.
2009-We have been assured that there is, in fact, a DNA test now available for verifying Singer purity. Whereas Australian Dingo and New Guinea Dingo DNA are virtually the same, there exists a large database of sample for comparison and has been able to compare NGSD, Village Dogs, and Domestic Dogs with positive results. This is amazing and wonderful news. We had earlier thought that there would never be enough samples of NGSD, but by being able to “add in” the AU Dingo samples, it created an adequate database. WOW!!! Now if the geneticist will just cooperate with us on this, we could make progress in identifying new pure members for the captive breeding program.
2009-Perhaps it is not too late for New Guinea Dingoes after all. Numerous zoos, large and small, privately owned and publically owned are asking for Singer stock. Reintroduction into the wild is being discussed and planned. There is also a strong renewed interest in them by individuals who want Singers in their homes. There are several individuals as well as zoos that are spearheading outreach programs and human interaction education.
2010-In October of this year a 15 year cache of sixty some adult Singers as well as puppies was discovered at Willow Hill, PA at the residence of Mr. & Mrs. Randy Hammond.
All but 25 of the Singers were seized by the state of PA, and for whatever reason, Mr. Hammond was talked into giving up his ownership of the Hammond Singers.
Ownership was transferred to an individual by the name of Tom Wendt who was chosen as the recipient owner by a PA Dog Warden by the name of Georgia Martin
This dispersal is probably the worst thing that has ever been allowed to occur to Singing Dogs in their entire history.
An entire book could be written about it. At this point in time which is February 2011, most of the adults have been spayed or neutered and are living in temporary foster homes.
Regarding the Hampshire College Singers:
Mark Feinstein was indeed doing vocalization studies at Hampshire College using Brisbin Singers. That would have been during the mid to late 1990's. I think those studies were later showcased in a paper written by Brisbin & Matznick.
When Hampshire College cut off funding for the vocalization project, Mark delivered two of the Hampshire College Singers to us and an undetermined number to Jones at Oakwold Kennel in MI..
One of ours we rec'd from Mark carried the name Kiri.
Kiri had come from Brisbin stock.
Kiri had been kept by Hampshire College.
Kiri was bred by/for Hampshire College to another Brisbin male to produce what became later a very important litter.
When their funding was cut off and Mark Feinstein broke up the Singer vocalization studies and dispersed his population, part of that litter was taken by Jones in MI and part of it by us in KS.. One male in that litter, who was taken by Jones, ended up being Grandfather to the Belle Singer who went over to Rare Species Conservation Centre in United Kingdom and whose offspring will now become an integral part of the European breeding program.
The explanation I've given is why the Hampshire College population is so important to Singer History. Not only that, had it not been for Jones dedication and work, an important link would have been lost. Through breeding and conserving just one litter, they helped to perpetuate Singers both in North America and in Europe.
So you see how NGSD bloodlines are so very interrelated.
You can also see how important it is to set aside politics and self importance and concentrate on the actual conservation of Singers.
Hope this helps answer your question.
Sorry for the long deluge, but sometimes it takes a lot of explanation to accurately describe these events. Don..
SIngers really do go grey early don't they?
Maybe the pictures I put on the website will have some value.
At least a person can go from album to album checking the ages and then seeing how they change.
On each album cover I type in like "2003- " which means the dog was born in 2003 and is still alive. That's pretty simple, right?
I also found hard copy photos of lots of stuff like pictures of Bris and his dogs and the circa 1960 San Diego Zoo SInger pair that I can't put on due to copyright, ownership, and privacy considerations. I have over 150 pictures(hard copy) from rescues that I won't show publically.
But, I want to keep taking pictures with the digital and make an album for each Singer we've owned or kept here.
I don’t think we ever took pictures of Olga, Samari, Madang or Maddie.(maybe Sedgwick County or KC Zoo will have some photos in their archives and will give us permission to use them).
Olga was so cantankerous and generally in a grippy mood so her photos wouldn't be too spiffy anyway.
Samari and Madang were splendid fellows.
Madang came over from Taronga Zoo, remember?
Samari was a sweet, but short lived male out of Madang and Maddie.
Maddie was a female we also had here during her latter years.
She was out of Dinkum & Olga and was then bred to Madang.
Madang's original imported mate died soon after arriving in Wichita.
As I recall, there was also another female imported with Olga, and as I recall, Olga killed her. I'll have to check the records for sure about that. Same sex aggression evident after females reach sexual maturity starting at 6-8 months.
Don't know what happened exactly, how they got together or anything, but Sedgwick County Zoo imported an unnamed female from Toronga Zoo in January of 1987 and she died in April of 1987.
She died of an infection from a punctured lung received during a fight with Olga.
Must have been a pretty harsh fight!
Old Olga was indeed a scrapper.
Olga had severe allergies when we rec’d her from SCZ.
Her eyes wouldn’t tear either.
We tried several cures and put tears in her eyes several times a day.
Her coat looked awful. Patches of fur gone etc.
We finally changed out her bedding again and that time gave her shredded paper(not newspaper or computer paper).
There was clear evidence of improvement within a few days. Her eyes started tearing again and her coat cleared up.
She obviously felt better too. Her disposition improved a little.
During 1992-1993 we experimented with a couple of litters in regard to same sex aggression.
We let them mature penned all together.
First we had to separate the males from the females and eventually had to separate males from males and females from females and then of course, females from males so we wouldn't have brother/sister matings.
All of this took place over a period of 6-9 months since Singers reach sexual maturity at 6-8 months.
None were s/n either, of course.
There are probably several dozen Singers we never photographed.
There for a few years we apparently didn't take any pictures. Darn it anyway! Or maybe I just haven't found them yet.
We have 4 or 5 orange and apple boxes full of old photos and for a good many years neither Judy or I have cracked the lids to check inside. I have much to do.
Anyway, we'll keep digging and see how well we can do with what we have..
Meanwhile, it's fun to look and compare.
Is it just me, or do some of the current Singers owned by other people look as though they have extra long, thin bodies?
BTW, here's a little known fact: Between 1980 & 1984 Sedgwick County Zoo bred Dinkum(Named and recognized Founder imported from Taronga Zoo born there) to an import by the name of Thundera(Unrecognized Founder).
Thundera has never been mentioned in any Singer history.
Thundera was imported from Taronga Zoo with Dinkum on September 16th 1980.
Dinkum and Thundera were both born at Taronga Zoo during April of 1980.
We don’t have a record of their parents.
Dinkum and Thundera produced a couple of small litters during Thundera's short four year and four month life. Their offspring went to Minnesota, Virginia and Oklahoma.
So far, we have had zero success tracing the Dinkum/Thundera bloodline. Most people don't even know it ever existed.
Dinkum died young as well. He was only 9 years, 8 months old at death.
Interestingly enough, you know I mentioned that Madang’s mate died soon after her arrival in the U.S.
Well Madang didn’t do well either. He was hardly 10 years old at death.
Maddie was the same way and their son Samari had a short life of 5 years.
Doesn’t speak well for that later Taronga bloodline, does it?
Could shortened life be a result of severe inbreeding? By 1990, Taronga Zoo stock was highly inbred. Remember, they started breeding Singers circa 1958.
The first Singers came over to the US from Taronga Zoo in what, 1962 or so?
Old Dingo was out of the early Taronga Stock. He lived to be 20 years and 1 month. Dinkum and Madang died more or less at 9-10 years of age.
Is there any correlation between severe inbreeding and longevity?
Another little known fact revolves around a Singer by the name of LikLik.
LikLik was imported from Taronga Zoo in 1990. Imported by Sedgwick County Zoo. She was traded to San Antonio Zoo at about 2 years of age. Later, she was traded to Lincoln Nebraska Zoo and died there without producing any offspring. She died in 1998 at the age of 10 years and 3 months in Lincoln.
Madang and LikLik had totally different parents at Taronga Zoo and Madang and LikLik were born four days apart.
So, it looks as though the longevity record for later Taronga Stock is not impressive.
Olga’s bloodline is similar. Olga was born at an unknown location but attributed to Kiel University. She apparently was transferred to Kronberg where she was purchased by Sedgwick County Zoo.
Olga died at 11 years and close to 2 months of age.
Now then of the other old founders, there was Darkie who lived to be what, 18 or 20? He was born in 1981. His father was taronga stock but his mother was wild caught.
As already mentioned, Old Dingo, another founder, died at age 20 years and a month and was out of parents extracted from very early Taronga stock.
Draw your own conclusions regarding longevity and inbreeding.
Donald D. Ehrlich
To Whom It May Concern,
Judy and I want to make it clear that we do not contribute to or endorse NGSDI(New Guinea Singing Dog International).
We ask that NGSDI, its officers, and affiliates refrain from using our name(s), photos, or written text and respect our rights to privacy and ownership.
Specifically, the post listed in "Notes" on the NGSDI Facebook page was not placed there with our permission..
Judy and I have not been a part of NGSDI since the early stages of the Hammond Dispersal in 2010 and ask that our name(s), writings, and photos be stricken from any NGSDI record, website, forum, or archive.
Hammond Dispersal, Willow Hill, PA
Friday, November 5, 2010 at 8:20pm ·
Foreword: Samantha and I went to Willow Hill, PA in order to help out as much as we could. This is my narrative regarding what we found.
Samantha and I had a really positive experience with the Hammond Singers and Judy and I would like to share it with you. When Samantha and I arrived at Hammonds, we were greeted by the same melodious sounds all visitors enjoy. The Singers sang us a song. It was remarkably neat!
There were just the two of us there. It was a decently calm, warm sunny day. There were just the two of us... and the dogs.
Even with two it took some time for the dogs to settle, but Samantha and I went about our inspection quietly and kept our voices low. We walked slowly and didn't make any sudden moves. We were careful not to make a lot of noise.
Within a short time the dogs began to calm down. By the time we finished our first round through the kennel, all the dogs and pens, there were only a few that were super nervous. By calming them we were able to complete our first inspection which consisted of checking each Singer for injury or wounds.
On the injury side, we found the male with only two legs and the male with only three legs. Additionally, we found several with other foot and joint problems and/or repaired injuries. I emphasize "repaired" injuries, because we did not find even one open wound. Everything we found had been treated and sutured. That told us that Mr. Hammond used a vet for his dogs. It spoke well for Mr. Hammond.
Our second task was to assess genetic faults that would probably be the result of intense inbreeding. We checked for several known faults. We found numerous tails shorter than the norm. These are not docked or stubbed tails, rather, they were maybe 8-12 inches long, too short to curl over their backs but long enough to still be attractive. I could be wrong here and I need to clarify this with Samantha, but I don't recall seeing any kinked tails.
Without physically handling the tails it was impossible to be certain of no kinks. We found one female who does not have a tail. We believe the tail has been surgically removed, frozen or bitten off. In other words, it didn't appear to be a birth defect. Additionally, many of the dogs would set on their tails and watch us, but wouldn't move around, again making it difficult to achieve a close inspection.
We found no overbites or underbites, but we have to qualify that statement because we were not able to open their mouths and had to rely on a good external inspection of their jaws.
There were some Singers with white markings, but not a single one that we'd call "excessive". Most of the Singers at Hammonds are a deep solid red with minimal white markings. Most have a splendidly dark face. They are strikingly attractive specimens.
We checked for aggressive behavior. Out of 60 adults, we found 3 who exhibited "want to bite you" attitude. Our findings were that 5% of the population was aggressive. 95% were non-aggressive.
The Singing Dogs at Hammonds are well fed and healthy. We did not find even one sick or ailing dog. They were all lively and alert. The oldest dog was 11.
We did not find any ringworm, fungus, mange, or allergic reaction evidence. There was no hair loss of any kind.
We both felt someone was doing something right for those dogs to be so healthy and active.
Most of the dogs were shy. We expected them to be. In our experience many dogs are shy on first contact when a person does nothing by way of treats to entice them. Ask Samantha and Amy how my best friend Labrador Retriever treated them last night.
We found 8 mothers with puppies. We found a total of 19 puppies. The largest litter was a litter of 6 brought forth by a pair of 10 year olds. To give reasons for small litters is quite impossible. We cannot honesty ascertain the reasons for small litters. Without proper research, giving reasons for small litter size is sheer speculation.
We found one female who is obviously pregnant. Tom and Mac saw another pair lock which means the second female may or may not be bred.
The oldest puppies were two female siblings age 6 weeks. The youngest were age 2 days. One puppy was found dead.
The 6 week old puppies would have needed to stay with their mother for two weeks. The 4 week old puppies would have needed to stay with their mothers for 4 weeks and so on. In other words, the law says puppies must stay with their mothers until they're 8 weeks old.
We also feel that the social evaluation of these dogs, especially the females with puppies, must be adjusted as time goes by simply because of their mothering instinct, nervousness and other factors. For example, Samantha has been feeding and watering her mothers as she travels. She opens the crate doors, talks to her mothers yet she has not been either attacked or bitten. Puppies down to 3 weeks have also been drinking water, eating dry kibble as well as raw chicken.
Last night around 10:00 we unloaded Natasha, the female who is really showing. When she was curled up in the corner of the whelping pen I gently extended my hand towards her muzzle and barely caressed her muzzle. Here was a dog who'd been taken from her home where she grew up, driven a thousand plus miles, and placed in a strange place, yet she allowed me to touch her without fear in her eyes.
Later last night we heard her introducing herself to the other Singers who live about 120 feet away. They answered. It should be relatively easy to understand why we love these dogs.
During our visit we were able to spend time with the Hammond Singers and two people who captured our hearts: Georgia Martin and Dennis Bumbaugh. Additionally, we had the genuine pleasure of conversing with Mr. and Mrs. Hammond over a cup of Mrs. Hammond's coffee.
One last story and then I'll close.
When Samantha and I were observing the kennel, we both thought that we saw something move up on the hillside above the yard. We walked up the hillside into the woods to check to see whether a Singer might have gotten lose. We'd gone quite a ways up the hillside when the Singers began to howl. We were above them and the sound was magnificent. Samantha recorded it!! One of these days she'll will post it for the world to hear!!!!!
I'm sorry, but honest to goodness, the hills were alive with the sound of their music. With songs they have sung for a thousand years. We believe our hearts will be blessed with sound of their music and we pray it will never be lost.
This is our response to just one of a myriad of articles written and copied by members of the media during and following the Fall, 2010 Hammond Dispersal of 68 adult Singers and 21 puppies. The Dispersal took place at Willow Hills, PA.