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.

Weasel words

December 20th, 2008

WALKS WITH Macbeth occasionally take on a flavour of high drama. A Border terrier of our acquaintance is called  Weasel'. With a name like that you could be forgiven for thinking that Weasel is a man dog. But, no – he is a she, and despite some characteristics which seem to attract a lot of shouting, when she and Macbeth meet it is on the most cordial terms.

I thought nothing of it when Macbeth's head went up as he recognised her trotting down the path to greet him. Between the two of them, however, appeared a collie, and in the spirit of impending Christmas, Weasel turned off to say hello. The collie must have been having a really bad hair day – collie-wise, if you know what I mean – for it turned on Weasel with considerable malice aforethought, and began to chew her up.

Weasel was caught a bit off guard, but it took only a moment for her to size up the situation and the size of the opposition, and then she swung into action. I can hardly think I've seen a more electrifying example of hell having no fury like a woman scorned.

She may be small but Weasel is not one to be put upon, whatever the size of the adversary. There was a lot of bully-ragging and growling from the collie dog but when Weasel chimed in the air was blue with indignant rage and screams.

She was soon giving far better than she was getting. Sharper than the serpent's tooth she was, and when the collie realised it wasn't getting it all its own way it was clearly thankful to leave the field of conflict when its master grabbed its collar and hauled it off. The exciting little tableau was over almost before it had started and Macbeth and I had stood by and gazed on in silent admiration.

One swallow may not make a summer, but I wonder if a Christmas cactus can be said to make a celebration. We have a plant that must be close on thirty years old which still produces the most lovely pink flowers. It has survived house moves, neglect, being starved of water and dropped on the floor and myriad other disasters, yet every December it repays our indifference with its wonderful blossom.

The Doyenne's mincemeat this year has benefitted from a gift of dates direct from Saudi Arabia, brought back to Scotland by old friend Brian Field who works out there. He had taken the “Man with two dogs” book with him to while away his lonely evenings far from home, and had taken note of the recipe for her Christmas mince pies. Just imagine – dogs with an international dimension, crossing borders and oceans to bring pleasure to a Montrosian in the blazing heat of the sun-scorched desert!