Breeze: First up in November was my eighth birthday. Kellie said that there was no use fighting it: I had to agree to (1) going to Capital Grooming to be fluffed up and (2) being photographed immediately on arrival back at No 86. Apparently, all Golden Retrievers living at No 86 have to do this on their birthdays. And here was me thinking that all this tiresome fluffing up had finished now that I had retired from the show ring.

Breeze: According to the Pack Leader, eight years old for a Golden Retriever is equivalent to about 56 years old for a human. "I'll bet," said the Pack Leader to the Alpha Female, "that there are not many human females around who are 56 years old, have had 24 pups, and still look that gorgeous." Icy stare from Alpha Female.

Breeze: I'll have to give you fair warning: By this stage my obsession with water and swimming was absolutely overpowering, so there will be lots of swimming pictures from here on in. Whenever Kellie and I were off the leash and sensed that we were close to the river, we would take off like rockets and head straight for the briny.

Kellie: And here I was still trying to figure out how my Mum could possibly stay afloat without a stick in her mouth.

Kellie and Breeze: The Pack Leader allows us off the leash over in the forest unless he knows that there are kangaroos about. The trouble is, sometimes these things just suddenly appear from nowhere, as was the case here. A couple of seconds after this picture was taken, we both took off after those two rascally marsupials, and it was on for young and old.

Kellie: And, boy, did we discover that my Mum is tenacity personified when it comes to chasing kangaroos or rabbits or whatever. I will generally give up the chase after a couple of hundred yards or so, but Momma Breeze will just keep going until she can no longer see the target. On the occasion pictured above, she eventually disappeared into the distant treeline, running like a cheetah and barking like a thing possessed. "And I thought we had taken on a quiet, refined, middle aged lady," said the Pack Leader to my Mum when she eventually emerged from the treeline. "But I'm starting to understand where your daughter gets all her naughtiness from." Mum just wagged her tail as if she had just had some really marvellous fun - which, of course, she had.

The other thing that we discovered about my Mum around about this time is that, although she is a gentle little lady with impeccable manners (except when chasing kangaroos), underneath it all she has a will of iron and a backbone of steel. I mean, Momma Breeze will not stand for any nonsense from anyone, period. If, for example, Oskar the German Shepherd gets out of line during a visit to No 86, my Mum will make it very plain to him, in very forceful terms, that what he has just done is completely unacceptable. (Poor Oskar. I don't think he's quite used to being given a talking-to by a little female Golden about half his size.)

Kellie and Breeze: Of course, it's not all swimming and chasing kangaroos or lizards or whatever. Occasionally, we need a few moments of quiet repose.

Breeze: Actually, I needed substantially more than a few moments of quiet repose when I returned home from having my little operation in mid-November. I was feeling more than a little groggy on that occasion, let me tell you that. Still, the whole thing was made more tolerable by the quiet ministrations of a little nursemaid named Kellie. She seemed to sense that I was not feeling 100%, and stayed quietly by my bed until I had recovered.

Breeze: But it wasn't long before I had fully recovered and insisted that the Pack Leader and Alpha Female take Kellie and me over to the lake one day and the forest the next. Adventure: That's what it's all about.