Chris finished his three-week stay and went back with a glowing report. Didn't destroy anything, wasn't aggressive, was perfectly behaved and endearing.

I may have saved him - his previous foster reports were not good.

Cowboy arrived on the same day. Different to Chris's classical curved elegance, Cowboy is stockier and shorter. You have to look twice to see that he is a greyhound. It's his first house. He grabbed at his food to begin with but within two days began to understand you don't need to fight for food in this house ... and there's plenty of it.

He should be called Thumper, he wags his tail so hard. Goldie has learnt to avoid the general tail area of dogs with excessively waggy tails as she was always getting whacked in the eyes.


Dog's breakfast.

Here's what I cook for the dogs:

Chicken stew.

I obtain chicken mince - pet grade - from a local butcher for $1.50 a kilo. This goes into a large pot to which I add a grated carrot, a stick of two of grated celery and two crushed cloves of garlic (good for their skin). Cover with water, bring to the boil, simmer for 10 minutes. Then add a cup or two of rice and/or pasta shapes, cook until done. Cool. They love it. It's also no trouble when you get into the habit.

As well as this, they have a can or two or three of sardines (generic brand, 59c a can) or mackerel, an equally cheap fish, each week; a couple of chicken frames each (50c a kilogram from Coburg market) and a marrow bone once a week to keep them amused and their teeth clean.

This diet is far better than commercial dog food and improves their digestion, skin tone and ... the smell and consistency of their droppings (well it is an important factor when you have to pick it up every day!).


State champion old guy.

I started competing in track and field in 1970, age 12. I finally won a Victorian Championship title last weekend. Hmmm. Only took me 35 years. I must be a late developer.

OK, it was a 40-plus title, in the 3000 metres walk (an event I came to specialise in over the years) but a title nevertheless.

The guy who came second is a retired surgeon who has moved to the country to run an olive tree farm. He resumed race-walking some years ago after finishing in the 1970s. He specialises in longer distances and is world best for his age over 30,000 metres.

On the presentation dais (in front of a very small crowd at Olympic Park in Melbourne, 10pm on a Friday) the guy who came third and I were chatting about dinner - he was having a vegetable curry and I was looking forward to a fish curry. It was late and we were hungry. The retired surgeon had already eaten earlier.

Yes, track and field is a very genteel sport at our age.


A dog called 'Chris'.

Chris (scroll down) is a classically proportioned greyhound. He is so tall, he has to stoop like a new foal to feed. His muscles are powerful and his deep chest curves elegantly back to fine rear quarters. He is all curves. Even his tail curves up and around in a perfect circle. Some greyhounds are squarer, but Chris is the classic pharaoh shape.

What's with the name? Who would call a dog Chris? I've started calling him Christopher Robin or Mr Christian.

For the last two days - temperatures in the high thirties - I've been sponging the dogs down and giving them ice-cream.

Today - now - it is eleven degrees. I've just fed Christy and put his coat on. He needs to put on some condition.

He's been good, by the way. Separation anxiety can be hard to lose but he's doing OK.