Small isolated towns have to make their own fun and Mataranka was no exception . We lived up there in the Northern Territory in the early 90s and operated a little tea and damper business in conjunction with the Mataranka Homestead Resort. At one stage we lived on a 5 acre block at the end of Carew Road from Mataranka and later we bought a caravan which we parked on our friends' property close to the Roper River but about ten kilometres by road from the Mataranka Homestead, or The Homestead as it was known locally.

At that time Hey, Hey its Saturday was a TV programme which had been running forever and although I had probably only seen it a couple of times in my life, I, like everyone else, at least had heard of the segment Red Faces.  Someone at the time decided we would have a Red Faces night in the local hall and acts were called for to be a part of the entertainment.  As our miniature poodle (RAS) had an exceptionally good voice and loved to perform, we entered him in the show.

On the night in question we rocked up at the hall along with everyone else and the show began.  Only the organisers knew what acts were on and who would be performing them and in what order they came.  RAS was kept in the car so nerves wouldn't get the better of him.  The acts were amazing.  The local talent in little places never ceases to astound me.  At a later time while we were living there the community put on an art show which turned out to be huge.  People came out of the woodwork from everywhere with things they had made, painted, photographed - you name it, they had done it.  It blew us away at the time.

Anyway, back to Red Faces.  RAZ was the last act of the night and he performed like a beauty, bringing the house down, singing his little heart out.  Even performed an encore.

I do feel we had a slight advantage over the other performers as I worked at the local one-teacher school as a teacher's assistant during the time we lived in Mataranka and the kids were all very familiar with myself and RAS and they adored him as he did them.  They were all seated on the floor right around the room in front of everyone else and when we emerged from behind the screen a roar went up from them.  His performance was greeted with enthusiastic yells and whistles and cooees all round.

The performance of the young man who came second in the show had been magnificent I thought and I really felt that he would win it.  He danced with a life-sized rag doll with long golden locks.  One of her hands was attached to his right shoulder while he held her left hand in a dancing attitude.  Her feet were attached to his shoes and he danced (very well) to She with Charles Aznavour singing.  He did it so well, swinging her this way and that, that you forgot she was a doll.  His ovation was a winner we thought.

However, we had underestimated our brilliant little boy and he topped the charts that night.  The dancing performer came up to me later, congratulating me on RAS' performance and on the win but left saying "You know, I really don't mind not winning but to be beaten by a DOG!!!"

This pup came to live with me in the first year I came to Bathurst and could fit on my hand, just a cute little ball iof fluff who turned out to be amazingly intelligent.  He had a vocabulary probably greater and more varied than most kids starting school and when we didn't want him to know what we were saying we took to spelling certain words.  At first he would sit still and listen and after a few times of it being spelt, would understand that word.  I am not kidding!!!

When he was about one year old we both moved in to board with friends, Judy and John, who had a little Australian Terrier, Pippy, aka Houdini.  As she got older she could get out of any yard or enclosure, displaying ingenuity that would leave us scratching our heads in wonder.  Thankfully it was a talent RAS never learnt for which I was eternally grateful.  We spent hours looking for Pippi in later years.

Boarding with Judy and John was great fun for starters but then the two dogs started to get into mischief and found out how to dig holes, just a few at first but it was so much fun that they couldn't stop.  We all arrived home from work one day and were standing in the laundry at the back of the house where Judy was telling me furiously that my dog was to blame.  Pippy had been a perfect little girl before the advent of RAS.  He was leading her astray.  "Look what your dog has done" she raged "The yard looks like a moonscape".  I had to admit it did but was trying to mollify her by saying that it wasn't just MY dog, that animals are like children and when you put two together, they get into mischief.  They were both to blame.

While this was going on RAS sauntered over to where we were standing, casually peed on Judy's leg, then wandered out the door and down the back steps.  We were both stunned.  Judy was speechless.  " just did?"  I fell about laughing.  How could he just do that?  The look on her face was priceless.  We still remain good friends.

Years later when we came back from Mataranka we used to go visit my sister, Kay, who lived with her husband at Lyndhurst. The husband didn't like dogs in the house.  He had no idea that RAS didn't think of himself as a dog.  Finally relented enough to allow RAS to come onto the front verandah where we would sit in the winter sun and have morning or afternoon tea.  Roy had a cane lounge that he used to lie on because he was not particuclarly well.  Being allowed onto the verandah we assumed RAS would mind his manners but no, he walked right up to the lounge, peed on one of its legs then wandered out onto the lawn. " You know what you can do with your front verandah."