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.

Lucky ducks

September 9th, 2006

SILENCE REIGNS! It's quite strange.

On Monday morning the swallow activity round the house was tremendous – skimming the rooftop and volplaning down to hover briefly and take off again in explosive aerobatics. They dive-bombed the porch at the front door where they've been nesting, twittering and chattering amongst themselves as if saying their farewells for another season. The Doyenne was quite wary of going outside while the aerial dogfighting was going on.

On Tuesday morning all was silent. At some point the day before the word was given and they started their long journey to the heat of Africa, leaving us to contemplate the onset of winter. It's amazing how such a small body can store the energy to travel so many thousand miles.

We went to see Inka's puppies which will shortly be off to their new homes, one going all the way to Dorset. Well, three are definitely spoken for, and the wee black bitch may still be looking for an owner. One has already been named Brock and another is being threatened with Snoopy, but I don't think he knows about it yet.

They've been a great source of entertainment to the breeder but, like bairns, it's fine to see them go! There was a narrow squeak with one of them which disappeared down a rabbit hole on a personal expedition of exploration. They are all still so roly-poly that once he was down there he might not have been able to wriggle back out again.

A most unusual sight has greeted the breeder in recent mornings. She's found mallard ducks, quite alive although missing several feathers, sitting in the kennel along with the puppies. There's a pond nearby and the mother must have gone out each night and picked an unsuspecting duck roosting by the pond side.

Was it just the inbred Labrador instinct to retrieve, or the mother's way of telling her pups that it's time to face a cruel world? Showing them what food alternatives are available once the milk supply dries up. Whatever the reason there are some mighty relieved ducks flying around, telling a story that none of the other ducks believe.

What a tremendous rowan crop there is this year. Grandson James was staying with us last weekend so, after the puppy gazing, we took a picnic to a secret pond fringed with bulrushes. We watched swallows hunting over the surface of the water for insects – doubtless the last chance of a meal before journeying south.

The Doyenne went off to pick rowans for her rowan and apple jelly, which goes so well with a leg of lamb. She came across some blackcurrant bushes which must have seeded naturally from birds eating fruit in a nearby garden, and then  dropping' the seeds in the woods.

So we came home with several pounds of blackcurrants too.