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.

Changeing seasons

March 6th, 2004

IRON HARD early mornings which greeted us at the beginning of the past week turned into two peerless sun-filled and cloudless days. Sunday and Monday were special round here and I hope the quite exceptional weather was shared all over.

The dogs loved it. Snow had fallen several days earlier, just deep enough for Macbeth to go hoovering round the fields like a mini snowplough. Trouble was he  grew' balls of snow all over his fur which had to be pulled off before he came indoors. There were frequent squeaks of indignation before we were finished.

He is just a dog of extremes. On Sunday he lay in the front doorway all afternoon soaking up the sun. In the evenings when the wood burning stove has been lit, MacB practically climbs into it.

The snow has an extraordinary rejuvenating effect on Sheba. The day before she can be dragging herself around, but when the snow falls she likes nothing better than to roll around in it on her back, kicking her legs in the air in a manner that's not altogether seemly in a lady of her indeterminate years!

Each morning about elevenses a grand cock pheasant makes its stately progress across the grass to the bird table, where there are rich pickings underneath the seed feeders. The tits and finches rock the hanging feeders and spare seed falls onto the grass where robins and yellowhammers and blackbirds are waiting for their share too.

The pheasant is coming into its brilliant mating colours. He's bronze and green, and red and white and purple on his head and body, and all shades of autumn browns in his tail feathers.

For several minutes I stood in the wood watching two crows eyeing each other up from separate branches of a beech tree. As they exchanged confidences it seemed to me that more than spring was stirring in those two black breists.

I took a peer over the old road bridge at the Upper Northwaterbridge. The frost had been so severe that ice had formed on the riverbanks of the North Esk and had crept out into the river itself.  Snaw bree' of melted snow and ice from up Glen Esk was being flushed down the stream.

I saw prints in the snow on the ice that looked big enough to be a dog's. It's a bad thing when a dog falls into the water in these circumstances. The dog can start to panic very quickly, and in its struggles it breaks more ice and can't get a foothold to pull itself out of the freezing water.

The ice isn't strong enough to bear the weight of a human, and as you may imagine there can be sad consequences. So the message from the bridge this week, is – don't let your dog run about on ice covered riverbanks.

Written on Saturday, March 6th, 2004 at 12:45 pm for Weekly.