Oddball dies at age 15

Oddball with her owner, Allan "Swampy" Marsh Photo: Robin Sharrock
Oddball with her owner, Allan "Swampy" Marsh Photo: Robin Sharrock
Penguin protector and beloved dog, Oddball, has died at age 15.

Oddball’s incredible legacy was cemented after a feature film, of the same name, was made about this brave companion’s actions that helped save the penguin population of Middle Island.

The fluffy white Maremma sheepdog made it to the ripe old age of 105 – in dog years.

“Old Oddball has gone to the big chook run in the sky and will rest in peace,” the Middle Island Maremma Project posted to Facebook on Wednesday.

With all the traits of a sheepdog, Oddball was the perfect candidate to take up the charge of protecting the island’s penguin population, after local foxes threatened to wipe out the species.

After pioneering the penguin protection program, Oddball and her fellow security guards, were responsible for lifting the islands bird population from just 10 birds in 2005 to 130 in 2015.

Chicken farmer Alan “Swampy” Marsh, who had trained Maremmas to protect his free-range chickens initially came up with the idea to utilise the breed to protect the penguins.

While her position on the island only lasted three weeks – she got too lonely and swam back to shore – her maiden voyage paved the way for future dogs who would go on to protect the island.

After her post had ended, Oddball lived out her days at Mr Marsh’s poultry farm, before making the move to Dennington, where she passed three years later.

The mayor of Warrnambool, Kylie Gaston, believes that Oddball’s legacy should be honoured with a permanent statue.

“I’m aware there are quite a few people who think it would be a good idea to have some sort of sculpture, perhaps across from the island and perhaps this is the impetus for that,” Cr Gaston said.

“We are indebted to Oddball,” Cr Gaston said.

“I think we need to acknowledge her for the work he did in turning our penguin population around.

“Our thoughts are with Swampy Marsh as well. Oddball was his loyal dog for many years.”


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