Kellie: I mentioned that a week or so after my birthday I received a really wonderful, if slightly belated, birthday present. Here's what happened: On my birthday the Pack Leader sent an email to Buffalo Kennels to let Mike and Sandra know how I was getting on and what I had been up to over the previous twelve months. In reply, Sandra mentioned that she and Mike were seeking to retire my mother Breeze to a nice home where she could live inside the house, and asked if there was any room at No 86.

The Pack Leader replied that he would consider the matter for a couple of days and reply in due course. Actually, that was a bit of a nonsense because, in reality, it only took the Pack Leader and Alpha Female about two nanoseconds to make up their minds. In fact, they became quite excited by the prospect of my Mum coming to live with us because they knew, from their previous visits to Buffalo Kennels, what a real little charmer she was.

And so, shortly after my birthday, the Pack Leader, Alpha Female, Tom and Sam drove up to the Southern Highlands to bring my Mum back to her new home. That was a really great day for all the residents of No 86, both human and canine. In fact, I would have to say that I went totally ballistic when my Mum ran through the gate to No 86 for the first time. Talk about excitement!

Kellie: Here's my Mum (Buffalo Waterwings, a.k.a. Breeze) during her distinguished career at Buffalo Kennels. On the left we see her with one of the litters she produced for Buffalo. On the right we see her during one of her many appearances in the show ring. (She's the one on the left.) She was just a month short of her eighth birthday when she came to live with me.

Kellie: And, just so you know this, my Mum is a certified Australian Champion (see left), having achieved that status on 23 March 1999. She is a CC, BOB and "in Group" winner, and was best Australian Bred in Show in May 1999. She also won the Open Bitch class at the September 2001 GRC Show (a feat repeated by her daughter Emma in 2002). I tell you, we now had a genuine VIP living with us at No 86.

Breeze: Well, when I arrived at No 86, I immediately inspected all the rooms in The Big White Kennel as well as every nook and cranny in the back yard. I noted that Kellie and I had our own room to sleep in, that my bed had a nice soft lambswool mattress, that there were plenty of toys to play with, and that the food and treats were top-drawer. Add to that the zillions of pats I was getting, and I was warming to my new abode right away.

Of course, as you might expect, it is a little unsettling and disorienting to find that your life has suddenly, and without warning, changed completely. Nevertheless, my new Pack Leader and Alpha Female were amazed at how quickly I adapted to my new circumstances. In fact, they said that, after only a single day, I was giving the impression that I had lived at No 86 all my life.

And, boy, had Kellie grown since I last saw her. She was actually bigger than me, being a full inch taller at the withers. Takes after her father, does my Kellie.

Kellie: The other difference between us is that I am very boisterous, loud, and "over-the-top" by nature, whereas my Mum is a really refined little lady with impeccable manners and appealing little ways. I suppose that's the reason why the humans generally call my Mum Little Breeze and me Big Loud One.

Kellie: OK, so we weren't completely alike. But there was one thing we had in common: We both had exactly the same attitude towards treats. (That's my Mum at the front in both these shots.)

Breeze: It wasn't long before Kellie introduced me to the mysteries of the big forest to the north.

Kellie: Now, you're not going to believe this, but Momma Breeze had never had a single swim before she arrived at No 86 - not one swim in the entire eight years of her life. Well, we just had to do something about that, her being a Golden Retriever and all, so very early in the piece we took her over to that quiet spot on the Molongolo for her first splash and giggle. The Pack Leader set up some safeguards in case she did not quite know what to do or got into difficulties, following which I jumped into the river to show her how it was done.

Well, my Mum needed absolutely no demonstration whatsoever. She immediately jumped in and started dog-paddling as if she had been doing it all her life. I mean, she was really, really enjoying herself, as if she had just discovered a new and absorbing hobby. I tell you, an hour later it was all we could do to persuade her to get out of the water for the walk back to No 86. And since that very first swim she has never looked back.

Breeze: Yep, this swimming lark was a complete doddle. I figured that, with a few weeks of intensive training, I'd be ready for the Olympics. My freestyle was coming along well, though I have to admit that my backstroke was somewhat problematical.

Breeze: I soon discovered that Kellie had this rather annoying trait of not wanting to swim unless she had a stick in her mouth. I tried to eradicate this behaviour by swimming after her and attempting to pull the stick from her jaws. This led to many a mid-stream tussle; however, try as I might, I failed to cure her of this habit.

Breeze and Kellie: Pretty soon we became more and more adventurous, swimming upstream together in search of mischief despite the Pack Leader's urgent entreaties to immediately return to shore. We tried to convey to the Pack Leader that this was simply a bonding exercise, but he said that he recognized canine mischievous intent when he saw it, and to stop kidding around.

Breeze: There was no doubt about it: Kellie and I were fast becoming the very best of pals (which is, now I think about it, hardly surprising, given that we are mother and daughter). We are as different as chalk and cheese in many respects, but we were to become absolutely inseparable in the coming weeks. And we soon learned how to " gang up" on the Pack Leader, who by this stage was wondering whether he had bitten off more than he could chew. I tell you, my retirement years were starting to look very promising.