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.

Sea legs

February 16th, 2008

MACBETH WILL never be an old sea dog. Inka, on the other hand, shows no fear of the sea and has so much fun when we go down to the beach that, if I don't keep a eye on him, I believe one day he'll set off to swim to Norway like some homeward-bound Scottish Viking.

Tuesday morning dawned like a summer's day and I knew I just had to get down to the sea again. I bundled the bold boys into the car and off we went to Kinnaber and a favourite walk down the bank of the River North Esk on its final run to the North Sea.

We sat for a while on the dunes looking across the sand, for the tide had just turned and was starting to come in again. It's very companionable with a black dog on one side and a white one on the other. Macbeth sat there wearing his keenly intelligent look while Inka was panting like a grampus and trying to lick the inside of my ear – which shows how intelligent he is!

You need to make the best of these mornings at this time of year; by lunchtime the heat starts to go out of the day. It was so warm I'd left my jacket in the car and I could have happily stretched out on the sand and had a snooze, except Inka kept on jogging me under the arm with his nose telling me it was time for play.

Labradors are water dogs and Inka is just like Sheba, our previous Lab, who drove us near demented whenever we took her to the beach, bringing us sticks to be thrown into the sea which she would swim out for and retrieve. There was a bit of a swell but Inka plunged into it headlong, cresting the waves like some bygone Hebridean birlinn.

West Highland terriers are underground dogs. They were bred to go down fox holes and flush out the foxes. Macbeth got as far as the water's edge and made it clear that it was quite bad enough getting his feet wet without any of the other nonsense. He was much happier when we turned back up the river bank where he could sniff rabbit holes and think ferocious thoughts.

I watched three dabchicks feeding in slack water on the other side of the river. They are not strong flyers and are much more at home on, or under, the water. They slipped below the surface leaving scarcely a ripple, and just when I thought they couldn't stay submerged a moment longer they shot to the surface like released corks.

Back home it was clear that, for once, I'd managed to wear Inka out. He retired to his bed and slept through the afternoon. Macbeth does that most afternoons, of course.