APRIL - JUNE 2005
Kellie: Now this is the sort of sight that strikes terror into the Pack Leader and Alpha Female, because they know that, if they let my Mum off the leash while these things are within visual range, all hell will break loose. Yep, just as I hate hot air balloons, Momma Breeze hates kayaks and (pictured here) dragon boats. Nobody knows why. She just does. If she had been let off the leash on this particular Sunday morning, we would have been treated to the spectacle of a little Golden Retriever heading right across the lake at flank speed, barking at the top of her voice and spoiling for combat. Just the thought of that prospect gives the Pack Leader nightmares.
Kellie & Breeze: But, alas, we digress. We must now relate to you our version of an event which occurred during May and which is currently referred to around No 86, in hushed tones, as "The Cooleman Ridge Nature Trail Incident". It all began one day in mid-May when the Pack Leader decided that we really should get out into the country again and go for a walk along the Cooleman Ridge Nature Trail, which is located to the west of a suburb named Chapman. He decided this even though he had put his back out starting the lawn mower a few weeks before and was still experiencing more than a little discomfort while walking. Talk about stoic. Nothing, but nothing, would prevent our Pack Leader from taking us for our daily walk. At least that's what he tells us.
Kellie: Anyway, it wasn't long before we dismounted from the car and headed out along the nature trail. The Alpha Female, remembering what happened last time we were up in that general region (and the less said about that the better), tried to persuade the Pack Leader to keep us on the leash for the whole of the journey. A spirited discussion followed, ending with the Pack Leader declaring that "the snake season is over, there have been no kangaroos or wallabies up here since the bushfires, that muddy pond would have completely dried up by now, and that there is thus no reason to deny Kellie and Breeze a modicum of liberty". So we soon found ourselves off the leash and trotting along quite happily well in front of our humans. "You're going to regret this," said the Alpha Female, aware as she was of one of the immutable laws of our pack, which is that:
Kellie: But that, of course was before Incident No 1. Incident No 1 occured as we were descending down into a valley in fairly open country. Suddenly my Mum took off like a rocket into the grassy region to our left and started racing up the slope, barking like a mad thing. I immediately saw what had captured her attention. It was a group of about six kangaroos, who were by now bounding away in front of my Mum as if their lives depended on it. Needless to say, I immediately gave chase as well. Indeed, I became so engrossed in the game that I didn't hear the Pack Leader yelling at us to jolly well get right back down to him this instant if we knew what was good for us. I have to say he was pretty agitated, and perhaps understandably so, because he knew from previous experience that we could very well wind up miles away if we managed to keep those kangaroos in sight.
Breeze: Well, keeping them in sight turned out to be the problem, in point of actual fact. When I got to the ridge line, I noticed that the grass on the reverse slope was really, really high, as a result of which I completely lost sight of my targets. Honestly, you could have hidden a herd of elephants and the entire Vienna Philharmonic in that stuff. Kellie soon joined me, having previously been left behind at the starting gate, and we both decided that we might as well abandon the chase. So we turned around and trotted back down the slope towards the Pack Leader, who by that time was running up towards us, puffing and wheezing like an old steam train. It was pretty clear from his general demeanour that he was, shall we say, less than entranced by our behaviour. Indeed he felt constained to tell us so, and in rather forceful terms.
Kellie: "So. No kangaroos hereabouts, you say?" said the Alpha Female, "Time to put them back on the leash, I think." "Not a bit of it," said the Pack Leader, "That was just a one-off. They'll be OK from here on in." "And what about that muddy pond down in the next valley?" said the Alpha Female. "You seem to forget," responded the Pack Leader, "that we are still experiencing the worst drought in over 100 years. There cannot possibly be any water left in that pond." The Pack Leader having established that point, my Mum and I were left off the leash and allowed to immediately resume point duty about 100 yards ahead of the humans.
Breeze: I'm not entirely sure why the Pack Leader started blowing a gasket, waving his arms and yelling like a crazed person. I mean, Kellie and I were having marvellous fun wading around in all that glorious mud. It seemed to me that, for some reason, the Pack Leader was determined to prevent us from enjoying ourselves that day. Anyway, whatever the reason, we were put firmly back on the leash the instant we consented to finally abandoning our wallowing, the adventure was abandoned, and we found ourselves heading back in the direction from whence we had come...
Kellie: When we reached the car, the Pack Leader said there was no way in the world he was going to let us onto the back seat, even with the seat covers in place. So the Alpha Female drove the Mazda back to No 86 and the Pack Leader walked us home through the suburbs. Every time a human walked by and stared at us two Goldens in disbelief, our glorious leader just looked at them and said, rather grumpily, "Don't ask. Please, just don't ask."
Breeze: The sun was setting when we reached No 86. "So here we go again," said the Pack Leader, "The second bath in two days, and me with my back killing me from all that walking." Anyway, that evening, sensing that we were a tad on the outer, we wandered up to the Pack Leader as he settled down to watch the television news, placed our muzzles on his lap, and looked up at him with our big brown eyes as if begging forgiveness. "You two rascals will be the death of me, you really will," he said as he patted our little furry noggins. I tell you, that muzzles-on-the-lap-and-big-brown-eyes thing works every time.
Kellie and Breeze: Time to put the aqualungs on again. Yep, here is yet another water-logged video of us in Lake Burley-Griffin. What can we say? If you've got gills - and the Pack Leader swears we have - you've just got to give them a workout every so often.