Kellie: Despite all that had gone before, and despite our Pack Leader's valiant efforts to be continually alert and vigilant while my Mum and I were off-leash in the forests or at the river or the lake, we experienced another heart-stopping lapse in late February. (Heart-stopping for the Pack Leader, that is. It was simply a ton of fun for us two Goldens, especially my Mum.)

What happened was this. The Pack Leader and his daughter Sam had taken my Mum and I for our usual Sunday morning swim over at Lake Burley-Griffin, which you may recall was the venue of my epic December 2002 swim in pursuit of an uppity black swan. Well, long story short, the Pack Leader, despite his vigilance, was once again caught out by a bevy of black swans which seemed to suddenly materialize out of nowhere. Two mature birds and two half-grown cygnets.

Fortunately for the Pack Leader, I was on-shore at the time, so he was able to quickly grab my collar and put me on the leash before I had time to react. Unfortunately for the Pack Leader, my Mum was already in the water and soon in hot pursuit of the feathered intruders.

Pretty soon it became apparent that my Mum was not going to give up the chase in the short term. To make matters worse, the swans were leading her right across the lake to the northern side. But there was really nothing the Pack Leader could do. There were no boats he could hail for assistance and no way he could persuade my Mum to turn back, despite his continual yelling. Where would my Mum wind up if she exited the lake on the northern shore? If she turned around anytime soon, would she have the strength to make it back to the starting point? These were the sorts of questions that, by this time, had started to drift into the Pack Leader's increasingly agitated mind.

When the swans and my Mum reached a point about half way across the lake, Sam, who is a very good swimmer, said that it was pretty clear by now that the situation was becoming serious and that she would have to swim across, try to catch up with my Mum, force her to turn around, and escort her back to shore. But the Pack Leader vetoed that idea immediately as being too hazardous for Sam. In any event, it was not long after that that we saw my Mum suddenly look around, as if she suddenly realized that she had done something quite irrational and that she was now a long, long way from shore.

Even when my Mum turned around and headed for home, the Pack Leader remained deeply concerned, knowing as he did that she was a senior citizen now and that she had expended considerable energy fetching sticks before this epic chase even began. But, thankfully, she eventually made it back to shore, emerging from the water with her tail wagging wildly as if she had just had a really enjoyable experience. And, truth be told, she probably had. I mean, there was no aggression displayed between the swans and my Mum, as there most certainly was at the time of my epic encounter. Nope, it seemed to be just four swans and a Golden Retriever enjoying each others company on a leisurely Sunday morning swim.

As for the Pack Leader, well, if he had had a tail, it wouldn't have been wagging wildly like my Mum's. I can tell you that with great certainty. The fact of the matter was that he had experienced yet another nasty scare, courtesy of the resident Golden Retrievers, which was no doubt why he and Sam were very, very quiet on the way home to No 86. Kept telling himself that he was an irresponsible dog-owner and that he was going to have to ratchet up the vigilance factor if he was going to prevent any more incidents like this. Honestly, I don't understand why humans can be such spoilsports. Goldens have a bit of innocent fun, and the humans freak out. Unbelievable.

Yes, as you can see from the map, my Mum's epic voyage was not nearly as long as my effort back in December 2002. However, as I've already mentioned, she was well and truly a senior citizen at the time and had expended a lot of energy fetching sticks earlier in the day. In addition, the water was quite choppy at the time. All in all, I think she did a terrific job, even though this whole episode probably took another two years off the Pack Leader's life.

But, alas, I digress. Back to the main story, and the introduction of a new character as he enters the pages of the Kellie and Breeze saga.

Kellie: Is it just me, Mama, or is life getting just a little bit routine around Number 86 these days?

Breeze: Do not despair, Kellie. The Pack Leader and I had a long talk to Tom and Sam and convinced them that dear old Oskar would have wanted them to provide a good home for another member of his noble breed, and that they should do so sooner rather than later. Best way to honour his memory, really.

Kellie: Good grief, Mama! Does that mean we are about to have a rascally puppy intruding into our domain, disturbing all this lovely peace and quiet?

Breeze: Well, it was you who was complaining that life was getting a little dull at Number 86, Kellie. Better brace yourself. I understand Tom is on the way back from Dellahund Kennels in the Southern Highlands even as we speak.

Kellie: By golly, you must be right, Mama. I could have sworn I heard Tom's four-wheel-drive pull into our driveway just now.

Breeze: Yep. That's the four-wheel-drive alright. And my finely honed instincts tell me that there is a little German Shepherd puppy on board. As I say, better brace yourself, because our lives are about to go all pear-shaped.

Kellie: If that's the case, Mama, you don't seem to be terribly excited or disturbed by this turn of events.

Breeze: Kellie, Kellie, Kellie. You seem to have forgotten that I've had four litters of puppies in my time. Four. Been there. Done that. No biggie. Wake me up when it's time for dinner, there's a good girl.

Kellie: Too late Mama, Tom's walking in the back gate right now, carrying some sort of little furry object. Black in colour, with discreet and rather fashionable touches of tan trim.

Breeze: Just as I thought, Kellie. German Shepherd puppy. Long-haired variant. Name of Saybo. And obviously trouble. Big, big trouble. I can tell this just by looking at him. I experienced much the same sense of foreboding when I clapped eyes on you for the first time.

Breeze: And here's but one example of what I mean. Dignified senior citizen wants to take an afternoon nap. Highly energetic puppy wants to wrestle. What was that you were saying about life becoming a tad routine at Number 86?

Breeze: So it's over to you, Kellie. Time for you to learn how to rear lively and undisciplined young puppies, just as I did all those years ago. I'm going back to sleep.

Kellie: And that was it, really. Over to Kellie. My mum just gave her little low warning growl the first time Saybo tried to wrestle with her and, from that point on, he always deferred to her, as if he instinctively realized that she was a dignified elderly lady who was to be treated at all times with courtesy and respect. Think of it: just one little low growl right at the start and the nature of the relationship was set in concrete for ever. Amazing.

Alas, no such luck with me. I mean, the little rascal quickly became absolutely fixated on me, following me everywhere and forever attempting to provoke me into rough-and-tumble play.

Kellie: And then autumn was upon us. Lovely balmy days just perfect for lots of walks with the Pack Leader and Alpha Female, including on the north side of the lake near the Australian National University.

Breeze: Sam and Tom and Saybo joined us on occasion, which gave us the opportunity to check up on Saybo's growth. Needless to say, he was making great progress, although I'm bound to say that the ears were a bit of a non-event at this stage. Just can't seem to make up their mind whether thay want to be pointy or floppy. (This, of course, is a problem we Golden Retrievers never encounter, floppy ears being de rigeur for the Golden ones.)

Kellie & Breeze: Trouble is, there's not much opportunity for off-the-leash time over on the north side of the lake. For that, we have to go out into the country a bit. Amongst other things this gives us more scope for exercising that remarkable sniffing device on the front of our little noggins.

Kellie: I don't know about you, Mama, but I seem to detect evidence of the presence of a certain type of marsupial hereabouts.

Breeze: No doubt about it, Kellie. There they are up on the side of that hill, practically inviting us to give chase.

Breeze: And just as I'm about to get wound up, dear reader, on go the leashes, on account of the fact that the Pack Leader won't let us disturb the wildlife anymore. So the natural instincts of two Golden Retrievers are nowadays being curbed in the most outrageous manner. The Pack Leader just doesn't seem to understand that, in the natural order of things, marsupials are forever chased and Golden Retrievers are forever the chasers. Kellie and I feel so strongly about this that we are thinking of taking our case to the United Nations - unless the Pack Leader threatens to withhold our treats, in which case we just might be persuaded to reconsider.

Kellie: And, anyway, I'm just as happy laying under a tree and chewing a stick, if the truth be known. I mean, I like a good chase as much as the next Golden, but I don't seem to have inherited the same level of absolute dedication to the sport that my Mum possesses. I tell you, if kangaroo, rabbit and lizard chasing were Olympic sports, my Mum would have about ten gold medals by now.

Kellie: I'll tell you what, Mama. That was a pretty rough work-out today. I'm so tired out that I can't move a single muscle.

Breeze: I am similarly afflicted, daughter-of-mine. I don't think I'll be moving an inch for at least a day. Maybe two.

Kellie: Bit of a problem though. The Pack Leader says that he can't get to his TV-viewing chair while we remain in this position.

Breeze: I'm sympathetic to his plight, but I'd be much more sympathetic if he had allowed us chase those kangaroos today.

Kellie: So I take it, mother-of-mine, that we now exact our revenge by employing that tried and tested military procedure known as "withhold and deny".

Breeze: That's the strategy, Kellie. We just need to drive home the point that the Golden Retrievers, not the humans, make the policies here at No 86. They just need to be gently reminded of that from time to time.

Kellie: So true, Mama. As always, I defer to your superior judgment in these matters.