HOW A MAN AND HIS DOG REVOLUTIONISED AUSTRALIA’S TELEPHONE CONNECTIONS
Source: 9News (Extract)
Posted: August 6, 2023
Decades before the internet and smart devices, when there were fixed, wired telephones, it was a huge and time-consuming task to keep Australian homes and businesses connected.
But one man and his dog revolutionised the process, and now, half a century on, they’re being recognised.
A trailblazing team in the 1970s, telecommunications tradesman Geoff King trained his cairn terrier, Taffy, to run telephone cables through narrow crawl and wall spaces.
A job that would take a normal tradesman hours was completed in minutes.
Taffy was no ordinary dog and Mr King, now 96, and his wife of 73 years, Dulcie, knew it instantly.
“I think the proudest moment was when we first saw the little puppy, six weeks old,” Mr King said.
“Dulce came with me and training him, that was the part I enjoyed most.”
Together, they connected some of Adelaide’s most iconic buildings – the old Queen Victoria Hospital, the ABC building, even the high security Yatala Prison – where Taffy got into strife for not being a union member on a closed shop site.
The controller even threatened a walk out.
So, that night Mr King took the dog to a union meeting at Trades Hall.
“He said, ‘we’ve got a bit of a problem, we’ve got Geoff and Taffy here but he doesn’t have a union card up at Yatala, do you think we can give him one?’ All hands went up,” he said.
And with that, Taffy became the union’s first card carrying canine.
“With a union card he could never be refused entry anywhere,” Mr King said.
“Once he had that he was in. Anywhere at all. Because he was an official working dog.”
Beba Brunt, Telsta’s group owner of field services, said it was a changing time.
“They really established communications in businesses, it was really in the age where we were moving off of telegraph into telephones,” Brunt said.
The postmaster-general is now Telstra and the job of its 2000 technicians is very different, laying cable in Adelaide’s new Telstra head office.
It’s there Mr King’s been recognised for his service and Taffy’s story lives on.
“The saddest day of my life was when poor little Taffy had to go,” he said.
That day was in 1978, the year after they both retired from the job they loved.
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