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.

Grandfather’s grandson

April 11th, 2009

WE'VE GOT the Bug. I don't mean the Doyenne has taken to her bed feeling peely-wally – Bug is the newest member of the Whitson family. He is a black Labrador puppy just seven months old this week. Fond as we are of Macbeth, our West Highland terrier, I've missed the presence of a big dog in the house, and once more I can confidently hold up my head as the Man with two dogs.

There's always some apprehension when taking on a young dog whose character has started to develop with another family, but we're feeling very positive about the new arrival, who replaces Inka who died so unexpectedly last October. Actually, it's astonishing how like Inka in looks and temperament the Bug is. He's stockier and a bit broader in the face and when he's fully grown he'll be quite a compact dog, which is what we liked so much about his predecessor.

Bug arrived with a bag of favourite toys one of which is a squeaky doll which is going to drive us mad. He likes to retrieve socks. It's natural and bred into Labradors to retrieve, so I've hunted out some of my old holey socks and if his worst fault is to shred them we'll be fine pleased. And it will save the Doyenne having to darn them!

Macbeth has grown used to being the only fish in his personal pond and he realises he's got his work cut out to lick this latest blot on the landscape into shape. Inka was twelve weeks old when we got him and very biddable to Macbeth's preferences. Being that much older the Bug has got his own ideas and there has been one sharp spat when Macbeth considered that his space was being invaded.

We have to leave them to it to work out their differences and mark out their respective boundaries. I don't expect it will be long for already Macbeth is joining Bug in his large basket to share a bit of communal warmth.

I afraid that Bug's name causes us a little concern. He doesn't look like a bug, and if it's true that dog owners grow to look like their dogs I could have an uncertain future. And I feel a bit silly when I give the order “Bed, Bug”, as I'm sure you can understand. Because of his resemblance to Inka we both find ourselves unconsciously calling him that, so we've decided to try to get him used to a change of name. So Inka is how he'll be known from now on.

I took Inka to the Laurencekirk Veterinary Hospital to introduce him to vet Mike Robson. Mike remarked how like Inka he is. “Small wonder”, I told him, “Inka is Inka's grandson”. So the wheel has turned full circle – if you see what I mean.

Written on Saturday, April 11th, 2009 at 3:04 pm for Weekly.