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.

Tail tales

April 5th, 2008

“IF YOU lie down with dogs you will get up with fleas” – I've no idea who said that but thankfully, for a while at least, it can't apply in this house. Macbeth has had his Spring trim and as usual he arrived home looking like a picture postcard. For twenty four hours, if we're lucky, he smells fragrant but, sadly, he sees these improving events as an affront to his masculinity and within a day or two he has explored all the darkest, dirtiest corners and reverted to his more normal hideous self.

It has also been the time for both dogs to get their annual vaccinations. As I took them into the vet hospital a boxer puppy sporting a long wavy tail was coming out. The Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006 banned all docking of puppies' tails other than for therapeutic reasons, because the majority of opinion in the Scottish Parliament regarded the practice as a mutilation.

I grew up never questioning the small stumps of tails on boxers, spaniels, terriers and other breeds which were commonly docked. The undocked tail is, of course, the natural tail but for someone of my age the legislation has resulted in some unusual sights which I am beginning to get used to. I mentioned this to the vet who made an interesting comment in relation to show bench breeding.

For generations these dogs were bred with the precise intention of docking their tails shortly after birth, and their appearance in the show ring reflected the preferences of the judges. As a result of the legislation, show judges must now create a new set of standards to define what is the perfect tail. Years of breeding one type of rear-end must now be replaced with years more to find the new millennium, authoritative  rear of the year'.

I've been the Man with two dogs for more than five years now but I'm in danger of being unseated by my own family. Son Robert has bought two “sprocker” puppies; father is a springer spaniel and mother is a cocker spaniel. They are brothers and at this stage are quite delightful (for how long I wonder) and of course they have long wavy tails. I've heard of a pair of cats called “Stuff” and “Nonsense”, and dogs called “Widdle” and “Puke”, which no doubt reflected their personalities, but these two have been christened “Puggle” and “Porridge”.

It's too early for them to be house trained, so newspapers are spread all round the kitchen which is their home for the time being. I received an e-mail picture of the page from this newspaper with the popular countryside diary which appears each Saturday. The photograph which accompanies the article had clearly received a thorough drenching either from Porridge, or Puggle, or worse still from both. Really – is nothing sacred!

Written on Saturday, April 5th, 2008 at 8:14 pm for Weekly.