Because work takes us to the city, we are weekend bushies. While we are away, our block provides food and shelter for many indigenous birds and animals, and also some safety from feral cats and foxes. Because of the city’s rapid encroachment, for some years no one had sighted any of our larger native animals. Then gradually the miracle happened. At long last we heard a koala’s piggy-growl issue from our trees, and glimpsed wombats, possums, and at dusk, little sugar-gliders.
Much as we hate blackberry for the total pest that it is, we allow it to flourish along our fences as it offers some natural protection for weaker animals. We have always avoided bringing dogs and cats to our block because they tend to view any native animal as fair game. But all our neighbours are great dog lovers. They argue that their dogs provide defence from break-ins and theft.
This came to mind six months ago when we heard loud barking at the southern end of our block signalling that something serious was happening. We raced outside to find our neighbour’s young Labrador trying to turn an echidna onto its back. The poor animal had been crawling into some blackberry bushes to try to get back into its burrow.
All this commotion brought the Labrador’s owner outside. But trying to pull the dog away from the echidna was like prising a lollipop out of a toddler’s hands.
Though the dog showed surprising strength and determination, we joined forces to drag it away. When we eventually succeeded, the echidna was totally exhausted. How hurt was it? A young Labrador has sharp teeth and sharper claws. Rather than upset the echidna any further, the Labrador was locked inside the house and we pushed more blackberry over the burrow in a feeble attempt to keep the dog away.
Next day there was no sign of the little animal so we figure it had crawled away to die. So imagine our delight last week when we sighted a small prickly creature scuttling alongside our fence. Happily, the offending Labrador now lives elsewhere.