Meet Fox Norton
A little floppy eared Fox Norton arrived in our lives in 2011, despite warnings about the unsuitability of a working kelpie as a pet. ‘The exercise!!!’ was the standard response. Important yes, but a well-adjusted working dog also needs mental stimulation and a job to do.
We took Foxy everywhere, around the streets, the bush, beaches, shopping centres, out to farms and riding with horses. We met as many people, dogs and creatures as we could find. We went to puppy school, then enrolled in a local dog club with agility in mind – and he loved it! Keen to please and quick on his feet, he excelled and we were so proud of him.
Through the club we learned about the Conservation Ecology Centre’s ‘Otways Conservation Dogs, dogs and handlers trained to search for the scats of endangered Tiger Quolls, aiding research for conservation. What a fantastic idea! For us this was an opportunity to blend a lifelong respect for all the beautiful wild things, with the fun of training our ripper little kelpie with an amazing group of people – we were in.
Fox thrives on his work as a quoll scat detection dog. Engage nose, work hard, find the scat. Get tasty rewards. What a very lucky kelpie. Life is spot on! Knowing that we can make Fox so happy while making a contribution to the future of endangered wildlife is very special.
Helen, Fox Norton’s Person/Mum
“Ted was a stray, adopted by my family in early 2013. He was kind and friendly even then, but he was very nervous. Strange scars on his thin body, combined with his terror of things like sticks be-ing picked up (even picking up a broom to sweep the floor would result in him flinching and yelp-ing) suggest that he had suffered awful mistreatment in the past.
Tess is my daughter; a quiet, gentle, happy little girl. Even in the first few minutes of that meeting at the shelter, Ted took to Tess – he leaned into her and folded his big bony body into her little arms. ‘He’s so brown and cuddly, I think his name is Teddy Bear,’ said Tess, stroking him.
Tess is now half way through her first year of school and Teddy is a fully qualified member of the Otways Conservation Dogs. Ted loves his work, searching for the scats of an endangered species (the Tiger Quoll) for conservation. He is extremely dedicated, working on long searches in chal-lenging terrain, in a task that requires skill, stamina, independent thought and close bonds with his handler. I am privileged to work with Ted as his handler. However, as Tess’s mum, I am most proud of Ted for his dedication to his little girl – their gentle and intensely loyal friendship has been fundamental to the development of both this dog and his girl. Tess really is Ted’s sun, moon and stars, and that is why we love him.”
Lizzie Corke, Conservation Ecology Centre
Banjo smiles – constantly!
Ever the larrikin, he is also soft, polite and gentle and is always ready to help – whether that be caring for orphaned lambs, or cheering up a stranger. Growing up in town Banjo showed great enthusiasm and talent for obedience and agility training, but when he moved to the bush he needed to find a new pursuit.
Banjo has found his niche with the Otway Conservation Dogs, his great commitment to everything he does put him in good stead for the high level training and he has worked hard, learning how to traverse challenging terrain and thick vegetation which are so different from town. Banjo has also learned to communicate really well with me – detection work is different to other canine activities we had tried in the past in that I don’t have all the answers. Banjo and I really need to work as a team to find the endangered Tiger Quoll scats and I need to listen to him at least as much as he needs to listen to me. He loves telling me he’s on the scent with a quick look, then finding the scats and alerting me by silently lying down – it warms my heart to see his pride in his work.
Karen, Banjo’s Person/Mum