After a busy day at the Million Paws walk, the National Pet Register team enjoyed a quick break before returning to work. It wasn’t long though before it was time to prepare Reggie for the next big leg of her trip.
After a thorough check over and top up of supplies driver Paul hit the road and headed north for Rockhampton to collect Veterinarian Cookie and volunteer Ash. They then headed west and began the two and half hour drive to the Woorabinda Aboriginal Community which marked the start of our outback tour.
Cookie who had travelled in this part of Australia before was once again struck by how desolate and flat the land was.
“There is really nothing out there, apart from yellow grass and a great expanse of flat, dry land as far as the eye can see. Occasionally you would see a billabong but that was it – not great for driving games such as eye spy!” said Cookie.
However the time passed fast enough and they arrived at Woorabinda in time to meet Council officers and find the best spot for Reggie to set up for the next day. Working in an Aboriginal Community requires a slightly different approach to organizing the set up and the dogs, than at more typical microchipping events.
Unlike urban areas the dogs do not wear collars and are therefore not brought along on lead. They are not often handled by any one other than their family and so can be a little wary of strangers.
The community dogs are free to wonder around the township during the day and are often owned by a family rather than a particular person. Microchipping the dogs is a great help to Council in identifying where a dog may belong and is of course important for families for a speedy return should they stray.
“We had to have a set up where the dogs could move through in one direction. You can often get ‘cheeky’ dogs, which describes a slightly aggressive or unsocial dog, so we don’t want them doubling back on each other.
“The dogs can also feel a little grizzly after being microchipped as they don’t get needles so can be a bit grumbly when they go back amongst other dogs,” explained Cookie.
The two days of microchipping however went very well and Cookie found there were not too many ‘cheeky’ dogs. They were also in pretty good health over all but she also took the opportunity to worm many of the dogs with tablets donated by The Lost Dogs’ Home.
As the dogs were not on lead they didn’t queue in an orderly fashion nor would they simply walk in when it was their turn. Having worked with community dogs before Cookie had a few tricks up her sleeve – treats!
“Some of the dogs don’t feel comfortable being restrained with a rope or lead around their neck. But they are all pretty happy to accept a treat and I found this was the most effective way to get them to come into the marquee to be chipped,” said Cookie.
Paul and Ash were then on hand to assist the owner and Cookie with holding and comforting the dog while they were chipped.
While most of the dogs submissively went along with the microchipping process they still didn’t miss a trick. A few of the dogs decided they really liked getting treats and turned up the next day, without their owners for more!
As well as the community dogs Cookie was pleased to meet a few farmers who took the opportunity to bring in their dogs after hearing the National Pet Register was coming to town.
“In all the event went really well’ said Cookie.
“There was great support from the Council to get as many pets as possible microchipped and in two days I am pleased to report we microchipped 150 dogs and cats! It was a great effort by all and we cant wait to come back again,” continued Cookie.
After two days at Woorabinda, Reggie, Cookie, Ash and Paul dusted themselves off and headed for the miners hub of Blackwater.