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.

The pig and the Pirate

May 14th, 2005

AFTER A lifetime's experience of dogs I'm no longer surprised by the revolting things that they discover in hedge bottoms and proudly retrieve to share with me, or eat, or sometimes both. So when Macbeth appeared chewing steadily, I knew it was just some more of the same.

This time, however, he had no intention of surrendering his treasure, nor was he willing to come to heel. There was a bit of undignified shouting, and Macbeth played a bit of  catch me if you can' – so I did. He sat there with his jaws clamped tight shut, but I've been through all the nonsense before and I soon prised open his mouth.

Out popped what looked like a bit of old tyre. It was the little orange rubber band round one end that gave me the answer. He had been gnawing on a lamb's tail.

The bands are applied about half way up lambs' tails soon after birth and they constrict the flow of blood beyond it, and eventually the tail end of the tail shrivels up and drops off. Docking them in this way is quite painless and helps keep their rear ends clean once they are adult.

I got word that after a season's break there's an oystercatcher nesting again in the gravel on the roundabout on the outskirts of Brechin. I went to have a look, and there she sits, quite composed, with traffic whizzing past scarcely four feet away from her.

All the recent reminiscing about VE Day celebrations 60 years ago brought back a memory of our honeymoon 40 years ago.

The Doyenne (although in those halcyon days we'd no idea she was one) and I stayed at Renvyle House Hotel on the Connemara coast where the next stop is America – well not quite. Inishbofin Island lies about one and a half hour's sail off the coast and was where Cromwell imprisoned the Irish clergy after he had duffed up Ireland.

It's not a big island but it has a real pirate's castle. There's also a pub, which forty years ago had a very friendly pig which wandered in and out greeting the tourists. The pig was a bit of a psychologist, and it waited till we were comfortably settled with our backs against an upturned boat and about to eat our packed lunch, and then reappeared with a smile on its face which plainly said it would be pleased to join us.

A family from Aberdeen called Crosbie, also holidaying at the hotel, made the boat trip too. The whole point of this rambling story is that, on the sail to Inishbofin, one of the young Crosbie sons looked me over and asked – “What did you do in the war, Mr Whitson?”

I suppose it was my newly acquired marital responsibilities that made me seem so seasoned!