- Foxes nearly destroyed entire little penguin colony near Warrnambool by 2005
- Italian Maremma sheepdogs, bred to guard against wolves, placed with colony
- Oddball was one of the first dogs and was such a success the program expanded
- One of the dogs, Eudy, has died aged 12 and will be given a public memorial
Beloved guard dog Eudy who was bred to protect a group of penguins on a remote Australian island will receive a public memorial after serving 10 years of service before her death.
Eudy, the longest-serving of the Maremma guardian dogs brought to Middle Island to protect a failing little penguin colony, near Warrnambool in Victoria, died aged 12.
Between 1999 and 2005 foxes devastated the penguin colony killing 590 of the 600 flightless birds.
Eudy, a ‘true hero’ of the Little Penguin Maremma Penguin Project, has died aged 12 and is likely to be farewelled in a public memorial
A photo of Eudy a key member of the penguin colony protection program on Middle Island in Victoria
Local authorities borrowed the idea used by a local chicken farmer known as Swampy Marsh, who used Maremmas to protect his poultry.
Maremma guard dogs originate from central and southern Italy where they are bred to protect sheep from wolves.
Maremmas were introduced to Middle Island and trained to protect the penguins in 2006, and the island was closed to the public.
The first dog introduced was called Oddball, in 2006, and he was so successful at dealing with foxes the program was expanded.
Oddball, owned by Mr Marsh, inspired a 2015 Australian movie called Oddball, starring Shane Jacobson.
The dogs are active on Middle Island during penguin breeding season.
Fast forward to 2021 and the penguin colony has recovered to the point it now has 100 birds.
Eudy died from an aggressive bone cancer and was a ‘true hero’ of the program, Middle Island Penguin Project Coordinator Dr Trish Corbett told Coast FM.
The remarkable Maremma guardian dogs of Middle Island, near Warrnambool, which were originally bred to protect sheep from wolves in Italy
‘Eudy and her sister Tula have been the heart and soul of the project.’
‘Rest peacefully, beautiful girl,’ Ms Corbett said.
Eudy’s ashes will be scattered on Middle Island.
A public memorial is planned but no date has yet been set.