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.

Man’s best friend

July 3rd, 2004

SUMMER HAS some catching up to do, it seems to me. The summer solstice has passed which means the longest day and shortest night are gone for another year. And Midsummer's Day has been celebrated so we should be enjoying warm sunny weather such as we had this time last year, instead of the cold and rain we've had over recent days.

Last weekend the Doyenne and I visited Newton Mill garden which was open under the Scottish Gardens Scheme. We are close enough to walk there and we took Macbeth along with us. A notice at the gate said  no dogs', so I was ready to walk Macbeth back home again but was told that as he is practically family an exception could be made. The gift of neighbours!

It must be a nerve-racking business preparing to open one's garden to the public – the weather usually has the final say, however cleverly one anticipates what it may do. Mrs Rose Rickman has developed her garden at Newton Mill for nearly twenty years now, and there seems near perfect symmetry between Newton Mill House and its walled garden.

We were much impressed by the terrific show of roses and delphiniums, and the outstanding herbaceous borders were packed with colour, and lots more to come. The vegetables were immaculate too, everything standing to attention and neatly labelled. I noticed one row of potatoes marked Edzell Blues, not with their old name of  Aigle' Blues as I wrote about several weeks ago.

Forfar Carriage Driving Group which is part of Riding for the Disabled Association will be benefiting from the proceeds of the day. The Group has a horse-drawn carriage which is adapted to take a wheelchair so that disabled people at all levels can enjoy time in the countryside.

The intelligence and devotion of dogs was graphically demonstrated recently. A friend was walking his two Labradors by the side of a river when he slipped and tumbled over a high bank. Thankfully some bushes broke his fall or he would have fallen onto rocks. He dislocated his shoulder and found himself unable to get back up the bank with only the one good arm.

The old dog sat at the top of the bank to look after his master and the young dog ran back along the path until it met two other walkers. The dog barked and capered in front of the walkers making it clear that it needed help. Thankfully the walkers weren't fazed by the dog's behaviour and followed it to where its master was still trying to extricate himself.

As his wife said –  It's like something out of Lassie'. Lassie was a film star wonder Border collie which spent its film career rescuing people from dangers and difficulties. But you have to be a certain age to remember all that!