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.

Death of a friend

May 15th, 2004

OLD SHEBA is dead, and while we feel sadness at her loss, we are thankful that her discomfort and pain are ended.

Her heart sounded like a leaky washing machine, and she was in constant pain from the arthritis in her legs. But right to the end she wagged her tail in greeting to us, and to the world at large.

Sheba came to us twelve years ago when she was two years old. We were told she had only spent half an hour ever inside a house, so we anticipated her arrival with a little trepidation.

From the moment she walked through our door she behaved with faultless good manners. She heartily endorsed the change from kennel life, and repaid our confidence by her constant good behaviour and clean habits.It's not wise to attribute human characteristics to one's pets, but Sheba was the most considerate and kindly disposed dog I've ever encountered.

She was certainly the best trained dog I've owned. I can't claim the credit for her training, but she never forgot it, and I didn't need to remind her. Out walking on country roads was never a problem. She returned to heel at the sound of a car, and sat at the verge until it passed.

Not that she lacked character. She could be thrawn, to the extent that sharp words could pass. But she was always gracious in acceptance of such setbacks, and would come back, tail wagging, looking for a tickle.

Grandchildren jumped on her and crawled over her, and she took it all in good humour. She had one litter of puppies before I bought her and I should have liked to have continued her line. But she had to have a hysterectomy, which put paid to the idea.

Sheba enjoyed visiting, and we confidently took her with us to Edinburgh flats and country homes. When it was time to leave she was always included in the invitation to come again.

When she couldn't accompany us we were fortunate to have very friendly kennelling on a farm close to home. We dropped her off and she went into her kennel without a backward glance. She accompanied the farmer around the farm without any need of a lead. She just enjoyed the familiarity of human contact.

As the arthritis grew worse, her limp became more pronounced. She took it all without complaint. The most I heard was a grunt of protest (never any ill will) when the Vet had to manipulate her joints to see just how bad her symptoms were.

She's buried in a corner of a wood where we often walked, beside fields she roamed over, and with a glimpse of hills she frequently looked to – all very familiar.

She's laid by now, and to borrow a few words from Shakespeare – for Sheba, the rest is silence.