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.

Inka, whisky and pedigrees

July 30th, 2005

ALL LUGS and legs. That's Inka, the new member of the household. Born on 5th May, he's a Labrador puppy who is showing lots of spirit already. In much the same way we judge youngsters by comparing them to their parents, so Inka is very much a chip off the old block.

When we went to see the litter we got such a friendly greeting from the mother. Mind you, the pups were eight weeks old then and she may just have been delighted to see someone else taking an interest in them, and giving her some respite. We also know two of the grandparents, so it's good to have some practical knowledge of the pedigree.

It's been more than a year since Sheba died and I've missed the company of a bigger dog. Macbeth has been a great wee companion and there will be plenty more good times to come. Right now he would like nothing better than to see this latest blot on the landscape sent straight back to where we got him from!

We're working hard to ensure that Macbeth doesn't feel rejected. Tickle one, tickle both. Talk to one, talk to both. I think what irks him most is that the puppy gets a midday feed and he doesn't. As the Doyenne says, it's like bringing a baby home and making sure the other bairns don't take bad with it.

Inka's Kennel Club name is Edradour Egret. Edradour is a delightful little distillery outside Pitlochry. It's Scotland's smallest distillery and I had the opportunity to go round it about twenty years ago. My recollection is of compact, low, whitewashed buildings, and everything neat and tidy. It wasn't a long tour, so each step of the distilling process was easily related to the previous one.

Egrets are birds with all-white plumage which is pretty much at odds with our all-black dog. It would be confusing for a puppy to have to learn to respond to  Edradour Egret'. I'm sure we've chosen a much easier name for Inka to get accustomed to.

It's good to be a man with two dogs again and no longer writing under false pretences. We've lost nothing by taking so long to find Sheba's replacement, and now we're looking forward to many years of fun with our twa dugs.

Walking in the woods I'm seeing the selective effects of the late, hard frosts we had in May. Some geans (wild cherries) and rowans will produce little or no fruit this year, yet neighbouring trees seem unaffected. The beech hedges have suffered too. Brown autumn patches amongst the healthy green leaves show where the young growth was burnt with the cold.

And the same story in the garden. Last year there was a terrific crop of apples and plums. There will be pretty thin pickings here this autumn.