Red Dog (Pilbara)

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Red Dog
Red Dog statue.
Other name(s)Bluey
Dog of the Northwest
Breedkelpie/cattle dog crossbreed dog
BornTally Ho
1971 (1971)
Paraburdoo, Western Australia
Died21 November 1979(1979-11-21) (aged 7–8)
Karratha, Western Australia
Resting placeSecret location, Roebourne, Western Australia
Known forTravelling throughout Western Australia's Pilbara region
TitleThe Pilbara Wanderer
OwnerColin Cummings (former)
John Stazzonelli (former)
The Pilbara Wanderer

Red Dog (c. 1971 – 21 November 1979) was a kelpie/cattle dog cross that was well known for his travels through Western Australia's vast Pilbara region. Red Dog had a series of owners and lengthy periods travelling on his own, essentially becoming a beloved friend and mascot of the greater Pilbara community. A statue was installed in his memory in Dampier, one of the towns to which he often returned.[1][2] He is frequently referred to as a "red kelpie"[3] or a "red cloud kelpie".[4]


Red Dog was believed to have been born in the town of Paraburdoo, Western Australia in 1971.[5]

Red Dog was called by a variety of names by those who knew him, including Bluey, Tally Ho, and Dog of the Northwest.[6] Tally Ho was his first name, given to him by Colin Cummings, who is believed to have been his first owner, and brought him to Dampier. The nickname "Red Dog" has been attributed to the red dirt of the Pilbara region (although "red dog" is a common nickname for red kelpies and heelers, much in the same way as "blue dog" or "Bluey" is a common nickname for the Australian cattle dog).

His second owner was John Stazzonelli, a bus driver with Hamersley Iron, who took the dog with him in his bus. With Stazzonelli, Red Dog travelled as far as Perth, Broome, Roebourne, Point Samson and Port Hedland.[7]

Following Stazzonelli's death in 1975, Red Dog spent a lot of time travelling on his own. He was also taken in by many members of the community, and a veterinarian who treated him. Each time he visited the vet, it was with a new owner.[6] Red was made a member of the Dampier Salts Sport and Social Club and the Transport Workers' Union, and was also given a bank account with the Bank of New South Wales, which was said to have used him as a mascot, with the slogan "If Red banks at the Wales, then you can too."[6]

Although Red Dog was well liked, it is believed that he was deliberately poisoned in 1979 with strychnine.[8][9]

Red Dog was buried, by veterinarian Rick Fenny, in a secret unmarked grave around Roebourne, Western Australia. There is a plaque, fixed to a boulder, very close to where Red Dog was buried, about a 3.7km outside of the town of Cossack WA. There is a pin on google maps showing the spot, although it is a little tricky to find it.[10][11] Fenny's book Pip – My first red kelpie talks about his time with Red Dog.[12]


Soon after Red's death, Australian author Nancy Gillespie wrote and compiled anecdotes and poetry written by several people of the Pilbara region for her 1983 book Red Dog,[13] as did Beverly Duckett in her 1993 book, Red Dog: the Pilbara Wanderer.[5]

Red Dog's story and statue have caught the attention of a number of people passing through Dampier, including British author Louis de Bernières. He wrote a book loosely based on Red's legend, called Red Dog.[14] A four-wheel drive club has been named in his honour.[15]

De Bernieres' novel was adapted as a critically acclaimed[16] feature film about Red. It was made in Australia and released in August 2011.[17] Based on a screenplay by Daniel Taplitz,[18] it is directed by Kriv Stenders. The title role was played by Koko.[19] In 2016 a prequel was released, Red Dog: True Blue, which imagines an origin story for Red Dog.[20] Louis de Bernières also wrote a novel called Blue Dog to go with the prequel film.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ashworth, Susie; Rebecca Turner; Simone Egger (2004). Western Australia. Lonely Planet. pp. 203–204. ISBN 1-74059-459-2.
  2. ^ "Dampier". The Sydney Morning Herald. 8 February 2004. Retrieved 6 April 2008.
  3. ^ Mark Sanderson (24 September 2001). "Animal Tragic". The Evening Standard. Retrieved 6 April 2008.[dead link]
  4. ^ Toby Clements (22 December 2001). "A Modest Proposal". The Telegraph. London. Archived from the original on 15 April 2008. Retrieved 6 April 2008.
  5. ^ a b Beverley Duckett (1993). Red Dog : the Pilbara wanderer.
  6. ^ a b c Gordon, Ruth (2000). It Takes a Dog to Raise a Village: True Stories of Remarkable Canine Vagabonds. Willow Creek Press. pp. 137–151. ISBN 1-57223-300-1.
  7. ^ Candice Silverman (23 September 2006). "Life as a Dogged Hobo". The Sunday Times. Retrieved 6 April 2008.
  8. ^ "The Red Dog Story". Retrieved 17 September 2017.
  9. ^ Fraser, Andrew Kidd. "The Red Dog vet". Retrieved 15 June 2021.
  10. ^ "Where was Red Dog Buried". Retrieved 17 September 2017.
  11. ^ Balaam, Kellie (19 May 2021). "Vet ponders a Red Dog's life". North West Telegraph. p. 4.
  12. ^ "Press Release: Red Dog Vet". Rick Fenny Group. Retrieved 17 November 2021.
  13. ^ Nancy Gillespie (1983). Red Dog. Stockwell. ISBN 0722317972.
  14. ^ De Bernières, Louis (2001). Red Dog. Pantheon Books. ISBN 0-375-42155-6.
  15. ^ "Red Dog 4WD Club". 5 April 2008. Archived from the original on 28 April 2010. Retrieved 6 April 2008.
  16. ^ Red Dog at Rotten Tomatoes
  17. ^ Stephanie Bunbury (29 July 2011). "Tall tails". The Sydney Morning Herald.
  18. ^ "WA's legendary Red Dog on track for the big screen". Media Newswire. 5 August 2009. Retrieved 10 August 2009.
  19. ^ Vicky Roach (10 August 2009). "Roll out the red carpet for Koko the movie star". Herald Sun. Retrieved 10 August 2009.
  20. ^ Andrew F Peirce (28 December 2016). "Red Dog: True Blue Review". The Curb. Retrieved 16 July 2022.

External links[edit]