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.

“…. comes the bitter frost”

October 25th, 2008

I'M SAD to report that Inka, our black Labrador, is dead. It would have been less of a blow if he had been an elderly dog, but he was only four years old, so his death was unexpected.

He was bred close to where we live, so most of his life he ran about woods and fields which were home territory. And how he loved to run. He could have galloped round seven parishes and scarcely drawn breath. The only time I gave him free rein was on the beach where he was always in view, and he loved that freedom.

The sea, indeed water generally, was a huge attraction but then Labradors are traditionally water dogs so he was a natural and strong swimmer. He had a daft habit of pushing his whole muzzle underwater trying to pick large stones off the sea or the river bed, and I always got so impatient with him.

Remarks that he was a “super, joyful character” and a “lovely character” very well sum him up. He was an extrovert, genial dog who took it for granted that everyone he met shared his joy for living. Bounding up to greet other walkers it was occasionally clear that his infectious enthusiasm was not always immediately shared. Sometimes he had to be reintroduced once calm had been restored.

If he could have had his way he'd have had me out walking all day every day. I used to try and pull on my boots without him realising, but however secretively I did so, a sixth sense told him what I was up to and he'd be capering around in front of me panting with excitement and urging me to “get a shift on!” because there were smells to smell and places to explore.

Macbeth misses his chum. Although very much the smaller of the two, he was undisputed leader in the house. In the early days Inka naively imagined that both bowls of food were meant for him. Without any intervention from us Macbeth sorted out the problem, and his food could lie untouched by black dogs for a whole day until he was ready to eat it.

Outdoors, with his longer legs, Inka tended to go his own way. But the two of them had a game that never ceased to entertain us. Inka would gallop as fast as he could in circles round Macbeth. He had the speed, but Macbeth had manoeuvrability and would judge the moment to cut across Inka's bows, barking and snapping at his legs. I wish we could have recorded it because both dogs so clearly enjoyed the fun.

It's just as well Macbeth seems to be made of old boots, even if they are rather small ones, because Inka's death has left a bigger hole in our lives than we might have expected.

Written on Saturday, October 25th, 2008 at 10:38 pm for Weekly.