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I Really Need to Tell You About Cuddles, the Telephone Cable

Jun 01, 2023

Back in March 2023, Telstra tweeted a pretty cute photo and newspaper snippet about Cuddles the cairn terrier, a forever good girl that helped technicians install telephone cables in Adelaide homes. There wasn’t a lot of information about Cuddles at the time of the post – I had attempted to find archives of the newspaper with no luck, and I had looked for any mention of Cuddles everywhere online, but I was not successful. I reached out to Telstra for some help, but it didn’t really go anywhere after that.

Until now.

On the morning of August 4, Telstra reached out to me with some updates.

Firstly: The article dated back to 1975. The man referenced in the article was Bob Johnson – Cuddles’ owner and a technician himself. He’d be doing all the heavy lifting while Cuddles would be running cables through tight spaces, such as ceilings or wall spaces, to make things easier for the installation team.

It’s quite lovely, actually: To run a cable across the roof, the cable would be tied to Cuddles’ collar, and he’d be placed in the hard-to-fit place, walked across it, and then collected by Johnson at the end. Dog with a job!

Both Johnson and Cuddles have passed away, but their legacy has lived on: Allow me to introduce Geoff King and Taffy.

King was a colleague of Johnson, and not only was Taffy also a cairn terrier, but they were also Cuddles’ puppy! Being a technician runs in the family.

From 1974, Taffy and King would do between two and three jobs a day, up until 1977 when King retired. In 1975, Taffy was awarded the gold ‘Dog of the Year’ award in Adelaide.

But there’s more. The two worked on many buildings like the South Australian ABC building, the Children’s Hospital, and the Old Queen Victoria Hospital, but when the duo were working at South Australia’s Yatala prison, a site manager told King that Taffy couldn’t be on-site… Because they weren’t a union member. Later, Taffy was sworn in as one, with their paw print as a signature.

The duo also apparently met Gough Whitlam, Bob Hawke, and former South Australian Premier Don Dunstan at Norwood Town Hall in 1975 during the state election.

Anyway, thank you Telstra for getting back to me with this really cool info. Cuddles and Taffy the cairn terriers were pretty freakin’ awesome dogs, as all dogs are, but these ones had jobs!

Dogs aren’t used anymore to install telecommunications equipment (except maybe robot dogs), but I’m sure Taffy would do just as good a job today as they did back in the 1970s.