By Nancy, 80. Adelaide, SA

Press the arrow above to listen to Nancy reading her piece “Smudge”.

I have always had a rather unhealthy dislike of dogs. I was a cat lover. Dogs I feared and loathed. I found them dirty, smelly, and prone to nip one’s ankle. I never understood  dog owners’ obsessions with their animals. I viewed most dog people as not quite normal when it came to their dogs. As for when you visited their houses and they would allow their dog to jump up and slather you with their tongue, I found this abhorrent.

All this changed rather dramatically three months ago when my daughter asked me to babysit her dog while she went away. I reluctantly agreed. Sasha is stark white and is a cross between a poodle and Maltese Terrier. Well, she came into my home and made it her own. Following me everywhere I went in the house, demanding to sleep on my bed at night (which I was horrified at), and generally taking over. When I came home from an outing, she would bark madly and wag her tail furiously. No matter where she was, the sound of her food being prepared would send her into a frenzy. The upshot of the week was I fell hopelessly in love with her and I made the momentous decision I had to have a dog.

I never understood  dog owners’ obsessions with their animals. I viewed most dog people as not quite normal …

Fate intervened three weeks later when I was getting my hair cut by my friend Lilly. She asked me if I would like a dog.

Smudge came to me one dark, wet, winter’s night. Accompanied by my daughter, son in law, and [granddaughters] Rachael (12), and Katie (10), we set off to pick him up. On the way I felt a bit concerned that maybe he would not be what I was looking for. The minute I set eyes on him it was love at first sight. We loaded him into the car and on the way home I said to the girls they could name him. They decided on Smudge because he was a mixture of browns and fawny colours and looked smudgy. So, Smudge it was. We stopped on the way home and loaded up with food bowls and dog food.

My love affair began the next day as we set about getting to know one another. Smudge is a cross between a Poodle and a Schnauzer and is called a Schnoodle. They have a life span of between 12 and 16 years. Smudge has just turned three. The nature of these dogs is they are very much house dogs and people dogs. I lavished him with love and affection and it wasn’t long before Smudge believed he had died and gone to heaven. In his old home, he was never allowed inside and I believe his owners worked long hours so he received little attention.

The next week I booked him in for a de-sexing. While giving  him a general going over the vet found a piece of bark lodged in his ear which had caused a bad ear infection and certainly pain. Smudge was vaccinated, de-flead, de-wormed, and generally bought back to good condition.

Smudge follows me everywhere and loves to be with me. He lies on my lap at night and I scratch his little belly and I am rewarded by the intense look of affection from his big brown eyes. When he falls asleep, he alternately snores, grunts, and makes all sorts of funny noises.

When the girls Rachael and Katie call in he gets delirious with joy and simply can’t contain himself as he sees the lead come out and knows it means a run. The girls can do what I can’t and run him off his little legs. He just loves it and comes back panting for a drink.

I cook all Smudge’s food, as I am rather suspicious of canned dog food. After all, it was only in the 1960s that canned dog food became available. Prior to that, cats and dogs were fed table scraps. I know I spoil him but he deserves it for all he gives me in return. He has changed my life and has bought me so much joy, love and happiness. One of his cutest characteristics is he has one ear that flops backwards and one that flops forward, which makes him all the more endearing.

The other day Smudge and I were talking and we decided that we would both like to grow old together. I am very happy with that.

In memory of Smudge, who passed away on 13 February 2022. Rest in peace.

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Margaret McCaffrey
1 year ago

This is a lovely story. I hope he is in Smudge heaven.

1 year ago

Hi Nancy, Loved reading your story about Smudge and such a lovely photo of him too. He’s so cute. Pets do bring much joy to a house where they are loved and looked after. We feel the same about out lovely tabby cat, Star.

Nancy A Sortini
Nancy A Sortini
1 year ago

I loved your story Mary reminded of my own childhood. so beautifully described of a past era. lets have some more.