During this period I reached a major milestone, namely, my first birthday! On that important day, the Pack Leader took me over to Capitol Grooming so that Caroline and the girls could give me the full beauty treatment - and let me tell you that there is something to be said for being pampered and fussed over for an hour or two. I could really get used to that.

While I was away, the Pack Leader and Alpha Female found a few moments to review the previous twelve months and the impact I had had on their lives so far. "Let's face it," said the Pack Leader, "Regardless of the outward appearances, the indisputable fact is that Kellie is the one who really runs this place, so we may as well face the facts." "I am," replied the Alpha Female, "all but reconciled to that reality. We may as well let her move into the master bedroom and we'll sleep in the study."

Here I am arriving home from the beauty parlour on my birthday, all fluffed up and all of twelve months old. Now where the heck are my birthday presents?

And another couple of shots of me strapped into the co-pilot's seat of the Pack Leader's silly-car. Actually, I really enjoyed riding in the silly-car with the hood down, because it made my floppy ears flap like crazy. As for the Pack Leader, he said that allowing Golden Retrievers to ride in a motor car is an essential part of their life experience in that it gives them an opportunity to occasionally bark very loudly, right in the driver's ear, for absolutely no discernable reason whatsoever. Well, my reason for barking was to try to get the Pack Leader to go faster, which he steadfastly refused to do when I was on board. Bummer.

Don't let it be said that I'm not a good hostess. In November, Benson the Collie came to stay with me for a few days while his owners were out of town. He's a bit of a charmer, is Benson. And, unlike Oskar the German Shepherd, he is not so heavily into that thoroughly tiresome macho-male dominant-dog thing. His only problem is that, as you can see from this picture, he is always after a smooch. I mean, who does he think he is? Russell Crowe? Go 'way, Benson. Go 'way.

On 24 December we experienced a rather bad bushfire in Canberra. Large areas of forest were taken out but, fortunately, our suburb was never really threatened. Still, the fringes of the burn were rather close to No 86, one example being this cycle path just to the east of the Molongolo River. The humans get a tad concerned about this sort of thing but, hey, I wasn't scared at all. Honest.

Here I am about to enter the new year. You will observe, I trust, that the flowers behind me have not been ripped out by the roots, chewed into a thousand pieces, and arranged in a generally eye-pleasing manner on the back lawn. (Well, not yet, anyway.)

Ah, summer. Glorious summer. Now here's a great way to spend a summer afternoon: Down by the lake watching the sailboats skimming over the water. If only a black swan or other water bird would hove into view, so that I could give chase, the day would be perfect.

Another good spot to be on a summer day is out in the pine forest. And if you really want the Pack Leader to go absolutely ballistic, find a mud-puddle and go for a bit of a wallow. (This works best if you only had your bath that morning, as was the case in this particular instance. Needless to say, the Pack Leader was not entranced.)

And on the way home you can call in to the local sports ground to catch an amateur cricket match. But, whatever you do, don't get carried away and race after the ball when the batsman hits it in your direction, even if you have always fancied yourself as a rather talented mid-off fielder. For reasons that escape me, the players don't seem to appreciate that at all.