Oddball, an Australian family film premiered in Warrnambool on September 17th and is expected to be a huge hit. Based off a tale that seems more like one of Aesop’s Fables than a true story, the heartwarming comedy is a based on a true story of pups protecting penguins.
In 2004, Middle Island, an island off the western Australian coast, and home to a colony of Little Penguins, was invaded by hungry foxes. Once they found out about the penguin paradise, the wily foxes swam out to the area and treated Middle Island like an all-you-can-eat buffet. Within a few months, the hangry foxes brought the penguin population from nearly one thousand, down to four.
Enter eccentric chicken farmer, Allen “Swampy” Marsh. A native to Victoria, Swampy is known in the area for his larger-than-life personality, boisterous sense of humor, and his trademark overalls. It dawned on him that his dog, Oddball, an excellent guard dog on Marsh’ chicken farm, could be put to good use protecting the penguins as well. Maremmas, also known as Italian Sheepdogs, are known for the protective instincts, and have been used as guard dogs for many years.
However, convincing the Warrnambool City Council to implement a dog-enforced penguin preservation was an uphill battle. “The problem was I was an amateur and not involved in the bureaucracy,” Swampy told Australia’s ABC Radio, “and here I was telling bureaucracy how to suck eggs and the bureaucracy quite frankly didn’t like it.”
After finally cutting through the red tape, Oddball moved to Middle Island and began her career as penguin-protector. It was huge success. Thanks to Oddball and her fox-intimidating tactics, the Little Penguin population is once again flourishing. At 14 years old, Oddball is now retired from saving penguins, but she did such a great job, the Warrnambool City Council, even started the Middle Island Maremma Project, to continue Oddball’s penguin preserving legacy.
Swampy, Oddball, and the Middle Island Maremma Project have gotten lots of attention since 2006, and with the feature film slated to premiere stateside later this year, people all over the world are expected to fall head-over-paws in love with these penguin lovin’ pups. And ready for this? The dog actor playing Oddball is the real Oddball’s actual grandson. Will the cuteness never end?!
Conwagulations Swampy and Oddball! We love you guys already.