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.

Equine pensioners

April 19th, 2008

THINGS ON the doorstep, metaphorically speaking, are sometimes the things that get most easily overlooked. For several years I'd promised myself I'd follow the signpost at the foot of Glenogil and visit the Mountains Animal Sanctuary. Well, I've kept my promise for earlier in the week I spent an instructive and entertaining afternoon with Rhona who is stable manager at this equine retirement home.

Twenty six years ago Alan Fraser established the charity to look after horses, ponies and donkeys, and the Sanctuary is now the largest equine rescue organisation in Scotland. Animals that have been ill-treated or neglected are welcomed to the peace of the Angus countryside where they find a home and the love and care that they had been denied. Equally welcome are retired racehorses, show jumpers and cross country eventers which would otherwise be put down for no other reason than that their competitive life was finished.

Rhona drove me round the 260 acre farm which currently has 126 animals in its care. Horses and ponies of all ages and in all sorts of condition come to Milton of Ogil Farm. I saw the Hospital field which is home to the senior horses between 30 and 40 years old. As befitted their age they had rugs on to keep out the chilly wind which was whistling off the snow-capped hills at the head of the glen.

The most rewarding part of the job is treating abandoned animals and cruelty victims and bringing them back to good health. But young, fit animals whose owners can no longer accommodate them find their way to Mountains too. After rehabilitation and re-schooling, so that they are safe to be ridden, they are offered to local families under the Loan Scheme, which has proved very successful and helps raise much needed funds.

For £15 supporters of the Sanctuary can adopt a donkey or horse which entitles them to visit and help feed their adoptee. Several young adopters have a real hands-on commitment and arrive with their own grooming kit which they have saved up for.

Apart from Alan Fraser's evident deep-rooted concern for the animals in his care, education to combat ignorance and cruelty has been a core driving force behind the aims of his charity. Links have been forged with Elmwood College and Thurso and Angus Colleges and veterinary schools to provide residential courses and work experience, and behind the scenes there is a very active business supporting Alan's work.

A visit to Mountains Animal Sanctuary is for all the family. It lies just off the road from Memus to Brechin and is well signposted. You can hardly miss it – there are horses in all the fields. Maureen welcomes everyone to the Visitor Centre where you can shop for souvenirs or enjoy a snack in the restaurant. Visit www.mountainsanimalsanctuary.org.uk