OCTOBER 2008 - FEB 2009

Oh, man! I can't believe I'm eight years old already. Where did all those years go? "Well," said the Pack Leader, "You're a middle-aged lady now Kellie, so I suppose you'll be conducting yourself with more dignity and decorum from now on.". "Little chance of that I would think," said the Alpha Female, always the wise and perceptive one.

So here are the official birthday portraits for my eighth birthday. Do I look as though I have any intention of slowing down any time soon? I mean, do I look anything other than the very embodiment of vim and vigour? I don't think so.

Nope. An active Golden is a happy Golden is my motto, even if it means running my Pack Leader off his feet, which I do all the time. I swear the Pack Leader wouldn't be as fit as he is if it were not for me. And he says that he wouldn't indulge me so much if I wasn't such an absolute charmer. (His words, not mine.)

Which is not to say I don't have my occasional moments of repose. For example, here I am with the Alpha Female in mid-October on the northern shore of the lake, contemplating the prospect of a glorious summer ahead (and keeping a sharp eye on those black swans in the distance I might add).

In November, Dayna and Angus came to stay with me for about a week while Scott and Kate visited their folks down in Victoria. Once again we were exposed to Dayna's incredible energy and Angus' unflappable nature and easy-going charm. It was just great having them at my place, even though my Pack Leader and Alpha Female said that occasionally, when we three Goldens had our energy levels up, it was like living in the middle of a tropical cyclone. (Not that they were complaining, mind. They really love having a tribe of Goldens about the house. And why wouldn't they? I mean, let's be realistic here.)

Of course, after we had completed our daily walk we were all pretty subdued. Even little Dayna felt compelled to take it easy for a while.

As did Angus. He's much bigger than Dayna but, like the gentleman that he is, he cheerfully acknowledges her seniority and defers to her without complaint. He's a really lovely fellow is Angus. He's had a lot of trouble with the cruciate ligament in one of his rear legs, but he never complains. We just have to watch him a bit to make sure he doesn't overdo things when he's exercising. And, let me tell you, it's very easy to overdo things when you're trying to keep up with that little canine whirlwind Dayna.

You guessed it: back in the aqua. Also, chewing retrieved sticks at the prescribed spot on the shore, as is my wont. Also, back home, drying off in the summer sun.

In January, mindful that we were in for a very hot February, the Pack Leader bought me one of those Cool Bed mats. He prepared the thing meticulously in accordance with the instructions, placed it in my favourite spot on the back porch, and waited for me to take advantage of the comfort it would afford me on hot days.

Well, I didn't take too kindly to the unauthorized removal of my old mat, which had served me well for many years. So, much to the Pack Leader's exasperation, I simply refused to lay down on this new high-tech tummy-cooler. Despite everything that the Pack Leader tried for the next month or so, I simply refused to go near the thing.

Finally, convinced that I would never take to it, he gave it to Saybo, who took to it immediately.

All that remains now is for the Pack Leader to someday figure out exactly why I rejected the Cool Bed. He doesn't know and I'm not telling. All I know is that I've got my old mat back again, so no harm done.

My Mum and my illustrious predecessor Bessie were both very afraid of thunder and fireworks and the like, and Dayna simply goes ballistic when those particular noises assault her ears. However, I have never been in the slightest afraid of such things. I sleep contentedly through thunderstorms, and fireworks are just one big yawn to me.

That said, I must confess that I do have a bit of a thing about hot air balloons. These things always show up in my bailiwick around this time of the year. When they do, I become quite agitated, and race around the back yard barking madly in an attempt to scare them away from the general vicinity of No 86. I mean, I really hate those things.

Anyway, in late January, one of those accursed contraptions flew right over my house, firing its burners. Can you believe that? I got such a fright I raced into the bushes, and refused to come out for ages.

I'm trying to persuade the Pack Leader to install a surface-to-air missile battery at No 86. If he agrees, I'll light the wick on one or two of those missiles the next time a hot air balloon violates my airspace.

Early Febuary saw Dayna, Angus and myself reunited during a Sunday morning swimming excursion, followed by a pleasant morning tea at their place. It was great to spend some time with my two very good friends again. (Well, I call us "friends", but our humans tend to call us "partners in crime". Bit harsh, that, don't you think?)

Angus proved yet again that he is a natural born swimmer, cruising along effortlessly like a big ocean liner.

Dayna, however, still hasn't got the hang of it. Lots of white water when Dayna gets out of her depth.

Angus and I make a pretty good team in the water ...

... but he goes near little Dayna at his peril.

What the heck, it's all good fun. The main thing is that we all enjoy ourselves tremendously.

Before I go, it occurs to me that I have not yet shown you a picture of my Mum's grave. Here it is - the resting place of the incomparable Buffalo Waterwings, a.k.a. my dear mother Breeze.