Port Macquarie's rescued dingo pup, Barkala, has bounced back from a 'ruff' start to life and found her forever home at the Dingo Discovery Sanctuary and Research Centre in Victoria.
The weeks old puppy was found abandoned, emaciated and riddled with parasites on a dirt road by locals Eathan Watts and Sarah Kirkman at Mount Boss near Wauchope in 2019.
The pair originally discovered the pup covered in sores, ants and ticks before taking her home and nursing her back to health over six months. Mr Watts organised a DNA test which determined Barkala was a pure bred dingo, then made the 26 hour drive to the 40-dingo sanctuary in March this year.
Australian Dingo Foundation founder and director Lyn Watson said many dingo pups in similar circumstances perish after their parents consume poisonous baits.
"Barkala is an absolutely pure dingo and probably as pure as possible to get. Barkala has not a dog gene to be seen and she falls in the alpine dog clad but she does have similar genetics to coastal dingoes," she said.
"She's settled in here and she has her own enclosure, she also gets to run in our paddocks. She's settled in beautifully and she is delightful with the people she trusts.
"Barkala is becoming a really lovely, happy personality with a den mate that she loves and who loves her. Crusoe is her den mate, he's bred here in the sanctuary. His background is all pure alpine dingo.
"She is a delightful dingo to look at and to be with. She is a beautiful dingo and will one day contribute to the conservation and preservation of the dingo gene pool.
"(Eathan and Sarah) They did a great job with her. Barkala had an easy transition because she was beautifully socialised with humans and dogs. It's not always that easy with rescued dingoes."
Dingoes are listed as a threatened species under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988 and are protected under the Wildlife Act 1975.
Eathan Watts said caring for dingoes is a long and sometimes difficult, but immensely rewarding process
"It was really difficult, she was a wild animal the whole time. It was getting to the stage where if she wasn't pure I was going to have to move out to property to house her," he said.
"She was often trying to burrow out and escape, I ended up buying a dingo proof pen. She didn't like many other people and was afraid of just about anyone else.
"Originally getting the positive results I thought 'I knew it' but then I thought this could be excellent for the Mid North Coast. It proves that there is a population of wild dingoes here and maybe conservation change can come from that.
"It was really emotional leaving her at the sanctuary. I had tears running down my face, I was a mess.
"I've relieved it's over but if she came to my door again I'd do the same thing again."
Mr Watts said he will return to the sanctuary to see if Barkala remembers him next year if travel restrictions were eased at that time.
Mrs Watson said DNA testing of animals by the Dingo Discovery Sanctuary and Research Centre has advanced significantly since it was established in 1990.
"The testing means have changed over the last 36 years. In the 90s we used to have to wait until a dingo died before sending a skull to the CSIRO, they would measure and send back the criteria," she said.
"DNA testing has advanced hugely and we now have a system that runs DNA against 300,000 genome material markers.
"We can find out a lot more about an animal as well from this. We can tell whether it will be red dingo, a black dingo. It's been found that there are at least two times of dingoes in Australia, maybe three.
"We are probably the only one in Australia that cares enough about keeping dingo breeding lines true and diverse, preserving the original dingo gene pool."