KELLIE: Twelve. I mean, TWELVE for Pete's sake! Yep, on 4 October I reached that grand old age. Who'd have thunk it?

"You know," said the Pack Leader to the Alpha Female, "In human terms, Kellie is now about 85 years old. Don't you wish that you could look that good when you're 85 - or even 75?"

Went over like a lead balloon, that. I mean, the Pack Leader was jolly lucky he got a hot dinner that night - or any dinner at all for that matter. That said, I would concede that he did make a perfectly valid point. It does rather seem that humans are unable to withstand the ravages of time as brilliantly as do we Golden Retrievers, hem, hem.

All that aside, the weather man kindly arranged for the weather to be absolutely glorious for my birthday. So here I am having a rest on the back lawn in the early morning sunlight, just after breakfast. This is my official twelth birthday snap.


DUSTY: I briefly joined my big half-sister on the back lawn before going off on my morning walk. To explain: I have to be exercised separately on some days because Kels moves very slowly at her age and I wouldn't get much of a work out if we went together. Then again, every second day we go to Dunrossil Drive or Commonwealth Park for our walks and, on those occasions I insist that we always set out together, meet up for a breather half way through, and then go on our separate ways again before meeting up again back at the car. Works out pretty well really, and ensures that Kellie feels that she is still part of the pack - which, of course she is. In fact, it's best to regard her as the pack matriarch, because even the Pack Leader and Alpha Female will concede that, in reality, she has always been The Boss.

KELLIE: Later in the morning, we went over the lake for a walk and some more birthday pictures. Bit of a drag posing for these things, of course, but Dusty and I have come to regard it all as an unavoidable duty. Then again, if we do cooperate on these occasions, we manage to score the odd treat or two, so no harm done really.

KELLIE: When she had tired of running around like a mad thing, Dusty joined me for a shnoz-based evaluation of the various lakeside flora. And let's be clear about this, humans: one canine nose is an incredibly capable device, but when you put two together the combined capability can only be described as awesome. It's a thing of wonder.

In this shot I was getting distinct citrus overtones, with subtle hints of blackberry and, possibly, marrowbone jelly. Dusty allowed as how she agreed with my general evaluation, though she also detected the unmistakeable aroma of pate de foie gras, vague though it was.

KELLIE: Later in the day came the time to sample my birthday cake. And look, folks, I tried my hardest. I really did. I mean, I fully intended to exercise the requisite level of restraint and wait until my guests had been handed a slice before ploughing in myself, but in the end I just couldn't hold back. In a trice, those candles were bulldozed out of the way, allowing me to Hoover up those four paw-shaped biscuits on the top in about two seconds flat. (The icing was rather nice too.)

KELLIE: But, hey, I've been hogging this page for long enough. Time to show some pics of my little sister Dusty at this stage of her life.

Dusty's favourite place is the former primary school sports grounds at the top of the hill near our place, mainly because she can be let off the leash up there and run around to her heart's content, sniffing here and sniffing there. Every so often she lays down to take a breather, but soon she's up again, with the sniffer back in full hyperdrive.

KELLIE & DUSTY: So, anyway, that's the second half of 2012 for you. We'll finish off with a couple of random shots. The last one shows us with our two faithful retainers, namely the honourable the Pack Leader and the honourable the Alpha Female. They finished off the year still deluding themselves that they were fully in control of the situation at No 86, whereas everybody else knows that it is really we two Golden Retrievers who call the shots around here.

KELLIE & DUSTY: That's Breeze's (Kellie's Mum) grave to our right and Bessie's grave behind us.