By February 2001, the Alpha Female was convinced that I was probably the all-time undisputed champion naughty puppy of the entire universe. No doubt that's why she eventually dubbed me "the puppy from hell", which I thought was a tad unfair. But you know what? Every time she scolded me for doing something utterly outrageous I just looked up at her with a look of sublime innocence on my face as if to say "Did I do something wrong? I'm awfully sorry. Give me a pat and I won't do it again. Promise." That was usually sufficient to defuse the situation. I mean, being a quick learner, I discovered at a very early age that a Golden can wiggle out of any tense human/Golden interface situation by just turning on the legendary Golden charm.

This was my second trip to Lake Burley-Griffin, over at Yarralumla. There's lots to keep a curious young pup entertained over there. I was particularly fascinated by some rather strange creatures that actually floated on top of the water, and made a mental note to maybe playfully stir them up a bit when I was fully grown - you know, give them a bit of curry, just for a lark.

Back at No 86, the Pack Leader had bought me this funny red ball thingummy, which I quickly discovered actually dispensed doggy treats if one rolled it along with one's nose.

That was fine so far as it went; but, frankly, I think it had a major design flaw, because eventually the treats ran out. I must have rolled that thing a thousand miles trying to squeeze more goodies out of it, but all to no avail. Bummer.

Mining operations on the back lawn continued unabated during this period. Indeed, my dedication to this essential task was such that rain, hail, sleet and mud failed to daunt my enthusiasm. The only problem was trying to get back inside The Big White Kennel when I ceased my labours for the day.

"Surely you don't think you're coming into the house like that, Kellie," said the Alpha Female, in utter disbelief, for the umpteeenth time. "Nothing that a quick bath won't fix, eh Kellie?" laughed the Pack Leader, who was rather more forgiving of this sort of thing than the Alpha Female. But why on earth did I need a bath? Really, I do find humans very difficult to understand sometimes.

Mind you, I did scrub up pretty well after a bath, even if my usual post-bath activity was to head straight for the shrubs for some more creative gardening.

The Pack Leader has always said that, around the end of February 2001, he could see the mature dog beginning to emerge from the puppy. It must have been true because, amongst other things, the back steps didn't seem to be quite so high anymore. Furthermore, the branches of several shrubs, which had heretofore been quite beyond my reach, were becoming more accessible. Good news for me. Bad news for the Alpha Female.