Going to the dogs

Jane Goodall, Becci Crowe, & Greg Rasmussen

Plans are in the works to return to Africa again this year. It will be my 10th trip and this experience promises to be like no other.  My husband and I will be joining Dr. Greg Rasmussen, Founder & Research Director of Painted Dog Conservation in Zimbabwe.  No safari for us – it won’t be necessary – we’ll be camped out in the bush with wildlife 24/7  as we track, collar, and collect data on the endangered Painted Dogs of Africa.We first met Greg 18 months ago while attending the Wildlife Conservation Network  in San Francisco.  I’d been following his work with Painted Dogs and we hit it off immediately.  Greg’s friends include many internationally known conservationists including the legendary Jane Goodall.

“Painted” patterns are unique to each dog


Painted Dogs, also known as African Wild Dogs, are unique to Africa and among Africa’s most endangered species.  At the turn of the 20th century there were half a million. It is estimated that only 3,000 – 5,000 still survive. The population in Zimbabwe is one of the last strongholds of the species and Greg’s Painted Dog Conservation  is committed to saving them.

Painted Dogs have long legs, a lean body and large ears.  Their coats vary in pattern and coloration mixing black, grey, gold, and white to produce a unique painted effect.  They live in packs and are very social.  Only the dominant male and female breed, but the whole pack takes care of the young.

Hyena and Painted Dog




A question I’m often asked is how Painted Dogs differ from hyenas.  Seeing them side by side makes the physical differences obvious.  Hyena will take every opportunity to steal whatever the Dogs kill.

Becci & her guide in Zimbabwe in 2004 surrounded by a large pack of Painted Dog

On our last trip to Zimbabwe we filmed our documentary  “As Close As You Dare – Africa” which was broadcast by PBS across the US.  During our filming we encountered a large pack of Painted Dogs and found ourselves surrounded.  We captured some incredible footage that shows what happened.  (The DVD is available) While in Zimbabwe this year with Greg Rasmussen we’ll be searching for this pack again to record how they’re doing.

My summer adventure.  What’s on your list?  Join me on the journey.

Becci Crowe   Adventure Artist

Categories: Travel, Wildlife | Tags: , , , , | 7 Comments

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7 thoughts on “Going to the dogs

  1. dimettler

    Wow, nothing I’m doing this summer compares with tracking painted dogs. 🙂 How fabulous. We’re getting ready for a garden tour and laying down 4,000 pounds of flagstone right now. You’ll have to come over and relax after your journey. 🙂


  2. I would love to come over and enjoy your beautiful garden this summer Diane. (I’ll bring some South African wine) Where can people find out more about the garden tour? Will you be posting photos of your project and the garden tour itself?


    • dimettler

      African wine sounds GREAT! Just put up the website (www.eatonvillegardentour.com) and info on the gardens will come shortly. Was waiting for some decent weather to take pictures. There should be brochures soon. Can’t believe it’s coming up so quickly.


  3. Unless my father-in-law’s boat sells, we’ll probably take it out and putt around the sound for a few days. Pretty low-key summer, I hope, with lot’s of time to write my next best-selling novel. That’s my plan anyway. Haha.


  4. Sounds like a perfect way to get inspired for writing your next novel Shannon!


  5. Deena Jones

    I am so glad you are really getting to go! Spending all that time with Greg should be a blast. I really liked him. How long will you be gone?

    I am going to Africa on August 12th. I am taking it one day at a time. If I think about it too much, I won’t sleep until August 12th.


  6. I’m excited for you Deena! I want to hear all about it. When you’re ready – email me. 🙂


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