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.

Dog training

November 27th, 2004

I APPRECIATE it when car drivers slow down as they pass Macbeth and me out walking. I hope I am as considerate a driver when I meet other dog walkers.

I've said before that Old Sheba was the best behaved dog I've owned. She was two years old when I acquired her and had been well trained. She automatically sat on the road verge if cars passed, and that meant I could take her walking without a lead.

When Macbeth arrived, aged ten weeks, he almost immediately began to mimic a lot of Sheba's good habits – although that hasn't meant he has necessarily discarded his bad ones!

One of his good habits is to sit, as Sheba did, when cars pass. Again, it makes it very easy taking him on the road. I've always made my dogs sit before they get their food – only for a moment or two, but it's a regular daily instruction which maintains the ritual of obedience.

The cold snap last weekend put paid to the nasturtiums which I was boasting about several weeks back. They were still producing vigorous leaves and flowers, but last Sunday morning everything was lying flat on the ground and quite lifeless.

Presumably it's all to do with availability of food, but I've noticed this year that buzzards have not been so abundant locally as they were last year. However I recently saw a sparrowhawk patrolling the edge of the wood which, around the house, is a rare sighting. But my neighbour Ronald, scarcely half a mile away, tells me he sees them regularly.

We – Macbeth and I, that is – have been seeing a single roe deer which crosses the road in front of us, from one wood to the other. By the time we walk on the fifty yards or so, the roe has disappeared without trace. They are marvellously well camouflaged to blend into their environment, and seem able to disappear behind a couple of blades of grass and a leaf.

Shakespeare wrote ” €¦. nightly sings the staring owl, Tu-who/ Tu-whit, tu-who – a merry note”. According to the bird book these are the calls of tawny owls; the male giving the first call which is answered by the female. Last evening there must have been a male and female chatting together on the same branch, and they gave a perfect traditional, nursery rhyme rendition of their calls.

An exasperated Dundee wife was trying to contact her husband to remind him that he and I had an appointment.  He's never here. It's in and out all the time – he's just like a peep o' gas'.

A local laird tells a story which I can't vouch for, but I love the humour. Apparently the road sign announcing the village of Crook of Devon has had a brief message added –  Twinned with the Thieves of Baghdad'.