Our family pet dog, Spot, should’ve been the Western Bulldogs mascot.  He wasn’t a bulldog – he was a Jack Russel/Foxy cross – but he thought he was a giant.  He walked with a strut, which with old age became a slow, confident swagger.  He was barrel-chested and mischievous and had more friends in town than many human beings.

Unlike most dogs, Spot was never restricted to the confines of our backyard.  We tried to keep him locked up at home when he was a pup, but his friend over the back fence, ‘Dimmi’ would knock all obstacles away to allow Spot to escape and wander around town to visit his local haunts.  Like a young man bursting out on the footy field, Spot’s energy and enthusiasm was infectious.

Throughout his middle years Spot hit his prime.  He was the leader of a growing local dog fraternity, which more often than not ended with Spot’s friends being reprimanded or even punished.  Everyone’s dog knew Spot because he would go and visit them. He’d encourage them to go and explore the world with him and often he’d lead them astray.  Once, Spot took one of his best friends, Rusty, out hunting, which worried Rusty’s owners sick.  Days later they returned – battered and bruised, drenched in several layers of dust and limping gingerly. It was just another day playing in the wild world for Spot, but Rusty was banned from leaving the house and the two were forced to drift apart.

Spot was also a thrill seeker.  When television program ‘Who Dare’s Wins’ visited the town to conduct a stunt on Lake Mulwala, Spot caused a ruckus by jumping in the stunt boat and chewing on the camera’s cable wires.  He was then locked in a nearby yacht club, but, like all good dogs he escaped by jumping out an open window. While the producer cursed and swore vehemently at him, Spot looked suitably chuffed with his television performance, while his owner looked on sheepishly, suitably embarrassed.

Not long after his hit TV appearance Spot began to venture to school.  On several occasions maths, English and science classes were scuttled by Spot running through the school – sniffing, probing and plotting to find his owner.  The joy when he succeeded was short lived though, as he was reprimanded by the school hierarchy and taken home. So serious was the penalty, he was even put on the leash for an hour or two as punishment.

Throughout his 17 year action adventure, Spot was simply everywhere – holding up traffic on the bridge, running down the aisles of the supermarket, ambling down ‘River Road’ with a smile for everyone he’d meet, or locked up in the pound.  One Christmas he was caught red handed running in and out of our cousins’ tent tearing foam off their mattresses.  We tried to insist our grandmother’s cat had caused the damage and Spot was simply trying to put the foam back, but nevertheless, Spot trumped all poor human behaviour that day to take out the annual Christmas ‘tin of jam’ award.

Last Wednesday, after seventeen full and fun years, Spot passed away of old age.  Earlier that day he was sighted in Witt Street Yarrawonga – about one kilometre from home ambling slowly along the side of the road on what would be his final sojourn.  And that was Spot – living life right to the end.  He was a little dog who lived a big life and more than that he did something for our family that we’ll remember and cherish forever – he made us smile.


About Sam Duncan

My name is Sam Duncan, a very passionte, slightly one eyed and mostly optimistic Essendon supporter. Originally from Yarrawonga, the home of the mighty Pigeons, I moved to Melbourne to go to Swinburne Universtiy in 2002. Feeling right at home as a uni student, I stayed for a long, long time, completing an undergraduate degree in media and communications, an Honours and Masters degree in the same field, and finally, a PhD in sport, media and cultural studies. I'm the author of 'Rolling with the Punches: Tales of an Aussie Traveller', lecturer in the Bachelor of Sports Media at Holmesglen and boundary rider for AFL Live. I love footy. I love Essendon. Go Bombers!


  1. John Butler says


    As a man who once felt the need to mention the passing of his family dog in a game report, I know how you feel.

  2. Marvellous report Sam. Yarrawonga seems to be one of those towns where the local dogs get to roam around without consequence. But they all seem to mix in properly.

  3. Peter Baulderstone says

    Shandy sends his condolences, Sam. The Avenging Eagle and I are at the life stage where our parents are passing on or in very frail health. Shandy the labrador is always good for a smile or a chat or a consoling head in your lap. He is a better reader of body language than any psych. We go for a couple of laps of the local oval together every morning at 6, and he ‘morphs’ from sedate home dog into crazy pup. He refuses to believe he is 7. When he wanders off into the nearby paddock and rolls on his back kicking his legs in the air – I have a compelling urge to join him. Middle aged restraint contains me. Of late he has been on a tighter leash on the way home, as we cannot bear the thought of another family loss. Maybe I will be a bit more lenient after the Eagles have restored our smiles with a few home wins.
    Wonderful piece Sam, and you have let Spot lead a wonderfully free spiritied life.

  4. Hi Sam, lovely piece.

    I have two little ones and one is 9 and the other 12 going on 2. Peettee, the elder, gets up in the morning gingerly but at the park is the cutest, friendliest dog to all, big and little. Dogs and their free spirits lift ours. When I’m flat, they’re always there for a cuddle and though as city dwellers have no freedom to wander, they do add a lot of wonder to our lives.

    Lovely writing and shared memories.


  5. Thanks Sam. I’m sorry for your loss. I really am. The world doesn’t seem to care as much when it’s a dog that dies and not another family member, but it can be really tough.

    Cheers to Spot!

  6. Thanks Edward. You caused me to shed a few tears, through your wonderful story of your dear friend Spot, and the memories it evoked of my old mate, Mo.
    I reckon they ARE family.

  7. Andrew Fithall says

    Thanks Sam.

    I am intrigued by your “tin of jam” award. We have an identical award among a group of friends – it has been going 30 years. It is awarded the morning after the night before for best (worst) performance. Pretty sure a dog has never won it. I reckon there may be some connection somewhere with our award and yours.


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