Being out in the countryside with my dogs gives me time to think. I’ve learnt the pleasure of solitude without being lonely, and that’s a good feeling for me.

Welcome to "Man with two dogs" - the family website for dog owners and dog walkers.

This is my countryside diary which appears each Saturday in the Dundee Courier newspaper.

Pigs may fly

December 27th, 2003

MACBETH IS closer to Nature than Sheba. It's most apparent at this time of year when we get home from walks and he trails half the county indoors with him hanging from his stomach.

He's not due his next clip until mid-January but the closer it gets to barber time the more he looks like a rather earnest version of Paw Broon, the cartoon character who appears each week in the Sunday Post.

It's wise to keep a warm bunnet handy during the unpredictable weather. Apparently 40% of the body's heat goes straight out the top of our heads, so it's best to trap it before it contributes to global warming!

This is the time also to keep bird tables well stocked with food. It's effort that repays itself in the continued pleasure you will get from the garden songbirds.

We've made some changes to Sheba's diet and the Vet has given her a different heart pill. She seems to be ending the year in rather better trim than she started. It's not made her any less thrawn when she's so inclined – or when she's disinclined is perhaps more the point. But we certainly see an improvement in her energy.

Last Monday, the 22nd, was the shortest day. By half past three it was dusk, and by half past four quite dark. I'm quite excited by the prospect that from now on the days will lengthen as spring gets closer.

Stubble fields where we have walked the dogs are ploughed up now. This is inevitable if next year's crops are to be sown on time. So it's back into the woods again where we get some shelter from winter winds.

La D. and I went to a service of carols and readings which was organised to support a charity called Send a Cow. This is a charity which encourages self help amongst the poorest members of the poorest communities in East Africa by sending them livestock – cows, goats, pigs, bees and poultry.

Assisting sustainable agriculture in this way meets the needs of those who benefit in a very direct way. Helping them produce milk and meat for improved nutrition, and increase soil fertility and crop production.

The congregation fairly raised the roof with a lot of joyful carols. The timing of the service and the name of the charity were most apposite. “Away in a Manger” – ” €¦the cattle are lowing, the baby awakes €¦”

And the good news to end the year with is that enough was collected to ensure that a cow will soon be on its way to help sustain a poor family in a far- off place. Hard to think of a better practical demonstration of Christmas generosity.

Time to stop for this year and nip out for some holly. It's the last thing we need to finish the Christmas decorating.



Written on Saturday, December 27th, 2003 at 2:23 pm for Weekly.