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 eyes have it

November 10th, 2007

THE EYES caught mine in an unwavering gaze, and my own eyes were drawn to the kitten sitting in the grass, looking very wary about Inka and Macbeth. Neither dog had noticed it but as soon as I stopped they came bounding back to see why. It's remarkable how a wild animal, sitting so still, can demand attention just with its eyes.

Obviously the product of a rather late litter, it was quite ready to defend itself despite its lack of size. It was wild, semi feral, but certainly not a “wild cat”. There are only a few hundred true Scottish wild cats left living in out of the way spots, in out of the way glens, well away from human disturbance. (So endangered are they that a Scottish Wildcat Association has been launched to promote their interests.)

The kitten made no attempt to escape and I couldn't make out if it was injured for it sat hunkered down in the grass like a tabby in front of the fire. It would have nothing to do with Macbeth who was ready for a chat but just got spitting and growls for his pains. I put Inka away – he could have killed it with one bite.

I wondered if this was a repeat of Holly's story who I found, near dead, on a frozen road on a freezing January morning. I took her to the vet who revived her and she was adopted by one of the veterinary nurses who wrote to me afterwards to say how she had become a much loved family member. This kitten seemed quite self assured and perhaps the mother was watching and waiting for us lot to get on our way. Anyway, I left it where it was; if it was suffering, nature usually has a fairly swift remedy in these situations.

I got a call from Rev Andrew Greaves who was in a state of some outrage which I shared when I heard what he told me. In the space of only a fortnight he had counted five dead red squirrels on the short road connecting the Brechin-Edzell road with the Brechin-Little Brechin road. A lady from Luthermuir told me she had similarly seen roadkill squirrels on the Lang Stracht which is the road that runs past the old Edzell US Navy Base.

Squirrels are completely at home in the tree tops but on the roadside they get confused by the speed of cars. Take even 10mph off your speed and you'll give yourself more time to react to these bonny creatures, and they'll have more time to get out of your way.

The Doyenne has arrived home and announced that it's snowing; which is early, based on recent years' weather patterns. A warming glass of sherry is just the ticket on these occasions, so I'll need to dash.




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Written on Saturday, November 10th, 2007 at 12:12 pm for Weekly.