Hundreds of thousands of people have been captivated by the film story of Oddball, a big white dog who saved a colony of little penguins off the coast of Victoria. The real story of Oddball is even better.By 2005 the little penguin colony of Middle Island, off Warrnambool, had been almost destroyed by foxes. A radical solution was needed otherwise the penguins - a native species - would be lost. Local chicken farmer Swampy Marsh had a brilliant idea: his Maremma dogs were great at guarding sheep, so why not penguins too? After a lot of hard work by passionate locals, lots of meetings held and dogs brought in to council to prove they weren't vicious killers, Oddball the Maremma was sent to Middle Island. There has not been a fox print on the island since, and no more penguins have been lost to foxes.It wasn't always smooth sailing after that first success, but the Maremmas are still on Middle Island - and meeting their fans in Warrnambool when they're not. Now they have provided the inspiration for more conservation projects that will protect native fauna in Australia - and around the world.