JANUARY - MARCH 2012
KELLIE: January 20th was my little sister Dusty's fifth birthday and, as you would expect, it was another perfect day in Canberra. After she had received her presents and treats, she happily agreed to pose for some birthday pictures in the front garden and on the back lawn. This was one of those rare occasions when she did not have a chew-toy in her mouth. (She used to alternate between her turtle, her squirrel and her elephant, but these days she tends to favour her kookaburra and her lorikeet, probably because she discovered that she can make them utter their birdsongs if she bites them in the right spot.)
As the Pack Leader and Alpha Female will tell you, Dusty seems to have been fully pre-programmed with every endearing little mannerism and behavioural quirk that members of the canine species have ever invented in order to make themselves even more appealing to humans. I mean, she's got charm by the bucketload, has my Dusty. She just has a way of bringing a smile to your face, no matter what mood you are in at the time. The only downside to her is that she loves to look out the front window and bark at the passing pedestrians and cars, which can be a tad tiresome when you are trying to have a peaceful afternoon nap.
KELLIE: STOP PRESS! LAKE BURLEY-GRIFFIN! 29 JANUARY 2012, 11.01 AM! DUSTY SWIMS FOR THE FIRST TIME! Yep. Dusty has finally taken her first few strokes in the briny. The Pack Leader had not wanted to rush things, but eventually he gave up on trying to entice her to simply follow him out to the deeper water. Instead, he changed tack by just very slowly taking her out a short way while sort of half-carrying her around her middle. All the while, he kept his head close to hers, saying reassuring things to her. He'd just keep her out there for a while, half floating and half supported, while she gradually got used to being that low in the water with no ground contact.
Anyway, on the second day he tried this, and on about the third time he took her out into the deep in this manner, he suddenly felt her legs starting to paddle away. This was the moment he had been waiting for, so he just gave her a little push and off she went, swimming by herself! She only went about 10 metres that first time, but she had definitely swum her first strokes all by herself.
Well, there's no turning back now. A few more weeks and she'll be ready for the Olympics.