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.

Vaulting ambition

May 3rd, 2008

MACBETH'S AMBITIONS know no bounds, although we rather thought he had abandoned some of his more inflated ones. The Doyenne had both dogs out for their early walk and they disturbed a roe deer which had taken cover in amongst the tangles of the old rhododendron bushes close to the house. Inka was rattling around ahead, oblivious of the drama that was unfolding behind him. The deer took fright at the “bold MacBean” who set off in pursuit a fast as his little sawn-off legs would permit.

Deaf to the Doyenne's threats and imprecations Macbeth scampered down the ride between the beech trees like a silver bullet. If he ever were to come face to face with a roe deer he'd probably get a good kicking for his pains, but such outcomes never enter his small brain. Despite their size Westies are sparky wee dogs which were bred for their courage so I suppose he was simply acting true to breed.

Frustrated by the deer he disappeared again on the scent of a cock pheasant which rose, cackling crossly. While still a puppy he was hot on the heels of a pheasant which scornfully flew off. With misplaced enthusiasm Macbeth leapt hopelessly into the air after it. It seems there are some lessons he never learns.

The swallows are back in force but there's no sign yet of them starting to nest in the log shed. I watched them flicking over the wee lochan at the back of the house, feeding hard after their long migration from southern Africa. There were four dozen, or it may have been five – it was impossible to count them accurately as they pirouetted low over the water in their quest for insects. Their conversational twittering calls, telling each other how good it is to be back in familiar places, are very much part of the coming summer scene.

As we walked round the loch a mallard duck swam away hurriedly from the shore with five newly hatched ducklings in her wake. Two more which had got separated from the rest of the family suddenly realised that the dreaded Macbeth was coming up on them fast, and raced after the parent bird. They put in a fine turn of speed, flapping their fledgling wings like mad, and scuttling across the top of the water in their anxiety to get back to the security of deeper water.

A month ago I reported that a pair of swans had taken up residence at the pond and I hoped they would stay to breed. Sadly they have disappeared. There are the remains of what seems to have been a nest, which is destroyed now. There is dog fouling round about, possibly from several dogs, and I fear the birds have been chased off and have deserted the pond altogether. An unhappy state of affairs.

Written on Saturday, May 3rd, 2008 at 10:29 am for Weekly.