Rare New Guinea Singing Dogs are newest residents

New Guinea Singing Dogs, a rare, littleknown species of dog with a high-pitched melodious howl, will officially be considered “exotic wildlife” instead of just dogs by Florida officials starting March 1.

Though experts still debate whether Singers should officially be classified as a wild or domestic species, and the change in status for practical purposes may simply mean acquiring a license or permit for ownership, everyone agrees these animals are something special.


A species native to the New Guinea Highlands on the island of New Guinea and dating to theStone Age, they are beloved by a small number of owners across the United States who appreciate their intelligent personalities and unique vocal expression, which has been compared to a cross between wolves howling and whale song.

Although they can make wonderful pets for some, Singer advocates say, their high “prey drive” — for instance, a tendency to kill small animals such as birds or unfamiliar cats — and sense of independence makes them too hard to handle for casual owners. People who just thought they were cool pets sometimes give them up to shelters.

Shy Wolf Sanctuary in Naples rescued two Singers from a shelter in Harris County, Texas, in November. The sanctuary’s executive director, Deanna Deppen, is caring for them at her home in Naples.

Her female, 7-year-old Clara, and a male, 5-year-old Hunter, are litterbox trained.

“These animals are very catlike in that they’re independent and they willingly use the litterbox,” she said.

Clara and Hunter sometimes “sing” when feeling stressed.

“They’ll sing on the way to the vet’s office,” she said.

Hunter is mostly blind in one eye and has lost some sight in the other, and Clara is being treated for heartworms. Otherwise, they are healthy.

Though Clara and Hunter may one day be “ambassadors,” taken to events to help educate people about Singers, Ms. Deppen said they may end up being too shy for that role. If so, the pair will live out their lives at her house.

“At this point, they’re just so fearful, I don’t want to traumatize them,” she said.

With excellent jumping and digging capabilities, Singers can also escape without proper precautions such as fencing, and would probably not come back. They are typically shy, but not aggressive toward people and affectionate once they get to know you.

February 7, 2018

by Evan Williams

Florida Weekly

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