DECEMBER 2002

Kellie & Breeze: "When we only had Kellie," said the Alpha Female to the Pack Leader, "that silly sports car of yours was, I would suggest, marginally unsuitable for our needs. But now that we have The Breezer as well, I would suggest to you that that absurd little toy can only be described as wildly impractical. I simply cannot be expected to carry two Golden Retrievers on my lap. It's just not on." This was the moment the Pack Leader had been dreading for the last few weeks. Still, he had to concede that the Alpha Female had a valid point, so it was with heavy heart that he proceeded to the local Mazda dealer to trade his beloved MX-5 in on a new sports hatch.

Well, I guess we Goldens were a bit sad to see the MX-5 go too, but we had to admit that the new car was a much better proposition for all concerned. Amongst other things, it meant that The Kellie-Bomb and The Breezer could sit in considerable comfort in the rear and indulge in a little back-seat driving when we felt so inclined.


Kellie: "Here is Rule Number One:" said the Pack leader to Momma Breeze and me, "People with claws are not permitted to ride on the leather seats of this vehicle. Rule No 2 is that people with floppy ears are not permitted to chew the arm rests or, indeed, any other internal fitting. And that includes my head rest." And, so saying, he flung a specially made vinyl cover over the back seat prior to Mum and I strapping ourselves in for our familiarization ride in the new machine.


Breeze: Nothing like a nice Sunday morning stroll in the forest followed by a refreshing dip in the ol' Molongolo, I always say. Kellie and I thought of forming a synchronized swimming team, but I figured that her habit of always carrying a stick while swimming would adversely influence the judges. So we switched to synchronized diving instead. (Well, actually, it was more like synchronized belly-flops. But, however you describe it, we got to be really good at it.)


Kellie: Here's my Mum doing her well-known imitations of Australian champion swimmer Suzie O'Neill (left) and a surfacing Collins-Class submarine (right). I tell you, when she gets wound up, her bow wave could swamp a dinghy at thirty paces.


Breeze: And here's Kellie attempting to pass the baton to me in the 2 by 200 metre relay. Alas, she didn't quite hack it, convinced as she was that, if she lost that baton, she'd instantly sink to the bottom.

Kellie: This was the day we decided to relax, because on the following day we were bound for Lake Burley-Griffin. As you can see, Momma Breeze took a liking to my day kennel around about this time. (But, hey, I don't mind in the least. After all, she's got seniority.)


Breeze: So there we were on a nice quiet Sunday morning over at our favourite swimming spot at Yarralumla on Lake Burley-Griffin, just around the corner from Government House, the residence of the Australian Head of State. (You can just see the steps to Government House in the picture below.) Anyway, as I say, there we were, gambolling around in the aqua and minding our own business as usual ...

Breeze: ... when, unbeknown to us, this black swan appeared out of nowhere and started swimming towards us. Fearing a repeat of the dreaded Lake Ginninderra incident, the Pack Leader and Alpha Female started yelling at us to come back to shore. At this stage we had not yet seen the feathered interloper, so we had no idea why the humans were becoming so agitated.

Breeze: But then Kellie looked around and saw the black swan bearing down on us. At this point, the hearts of our humans sank, because they now knew that there was absolutely no chance of getting Kellie out of the water and preventing a major confrontation. No chance at all. Kellie just started barking and swimming straight at the thing. The swan, for its part, initiated a tactical fighting retreat, frequently turning towards Kellie and going into its threat posture - stretching out its wings, hissing and stamping the water. That just seemed to make Kellie more determined.

Over the next fifteen minutes or so, this little inter-species pas de deux slowly moved out to the centre of the lake and down towards the Scrivener Dam. The Pack Leader and Alpha Female were absolutely beside themselves with concern at this stage because (1) Kellie was so far away that they were not sure that she would have the strength to get back to shore, and (2) there was always the possibility that the swan would finally blow its stack and savagely attack its tenacious canine tormentor.

Well, anyway, Kellie finally abandoned the chase way down abeam Goverment House. I imagine she had concluded that the swan had finally learned its lesson. Certainly it had by then abandoned its periodic threatening postures, which, it must be said, had proven to be thoroughly inefficacious. So a somewhat chastened swan headed down towards the Scrivener, while the triumphant Kellie headed back towards shore. (The telephoto picture on the right, above, shows the general disposition of the opposing forces a couple of minutes after the cessation of hostilities.)

Breeze: And here's the Boadicea of Blackwood Terrace on the way back to shore. "All we need at this stage," said the Pack Leader, "is for her to head for the steps at Goverment House. Now that would really be the icing on the cake."

At this stage, I saw two possibilities. When Kellie arrived back on land, our humans would either be simply fuming at her refusal to get out of the water when called or be overcome with gratitude that she had made it back home safely. Bit of both, actually, as it happens.


Breeze: The Pack Leader and Alpha Female expected Kellie to be completely exhausted when she reached shore. However, on emerging from the drink she just raced up to the Pack Leader and started jumping up and down and barking, which is her way of saying "Go on! Go on! Throw a stick in the water so that I can jump in and retrieve it!" "You'll be the death of me Kellie, you really will." said a badly shaken Pack Leader for the umpteenth time, having just established a new pack policy that we Golden Retrievers were never, under any circumstances, to be allowed off the leash when there was any suggestion at all of black swans within our general area of interest.


Kellie and Breeze: After all that excitement we decided to finish the year off with a quiet, stress-free stroll down a country lane, having invited Oskar the German Shepherd to join us. We were on our best behaviour that day because the Pack Leader was still slowly recovering from the Lake Burley-Griffin incident, and we did not want to do anything to cause a relapse. (Of course, if we had happened to see the odd kangaroo or rabbit or lizard, that would have been a different story. Hah!)