A new movie is coming out about a dog name Oddball. Oddball is a Maremma Sheepdog who saved a population of penguins on Middle Island in Australia. Did I mention it’s also a true story?
Allan Marsh first got Oddball to help protect his chickens from hungry foxes. He spent six months training her and bonding her with the birds. Once he did, he no longer had to worry about predators. Not far from his farm in Victoria, Australia is Middle Island (off the coast of Warrnambool). Little penguins flock there for six months at a time to nest, Australia’s ABC Radio reports. However, in recent years foxes have discovered the island, swam to it during low tide, and nearly depleted the population entirely.
A university science student named David Williams was working on Marsh’s farm at the time and read an article about the situation. Williams told ABC Radio Australia that Marsh said, “What they need on that island is a Maremma dog.”
While getting her on the island wasn’t as easy as that – the Warrnambool Council had to agree to a dog being on the island – once she was there the penguin population replenished.
“When we all sat out there at night waiting for the penguins to come up on the island we were all shaking in our boots wondering how it would go really because that was the big unknown,” Williams told ABC Radio Australia. “A couple of penguins came up and saw the dog and just snuck back down again but then one confident one just strolled straight up and old Oddball went to give it a sneaky sniff on the backside and the penguin gave it a squawk and went for her nose. Oddie popped to the side and the penguin continued on, so it was really quite uneventful I guess.”
Oddball was on the island until other Maremmas were trained and took her place, but thanks to her, an island of little penguins was saved.
Will you see the movie?