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.

Minor excitements

August 8th, 2009

MAHATMA GANDHI wrote, “When I admire the wonder of a sunset or the beauty of the moon, my soul expands in worship of the Creator.”

It was almost midnight on Wednesday when I took the dogs out for their last walk and the near-full moon was fairly spectacular. I couldn't get quite as transfixed as the great Indian social activist because, as usual, I was chivvying Macbeth to get his nose out of beckoning midnight-blue smells and get a move on, and it's never easy keeping track of Inka in the darkness.

Not at all where I expected him to be, Inka erupted into wild barking. He's coming up for his first birthday and has hardly ever barked so I thought I had a major disaster on my hands, and hurried on to find him prancing round a curled-up hedgehog. He wouldn't pick it up because of the spines and was pushing it along the ground like a ball.

Getting that crisis under control we carried on up the drive. Pipistrelles, our smallest bat species, were hunting under the trees for their supper. I don't often see them so I presume there is just a small, local colony.

Inka's next life-expanding experience was finding a toad. When threatened these amphibians excrete a foul tasting liquid from glands beneath their skin which deters predators from eating them. Inka was jabbing at this one with his claws and was in danger of injuring it. It would likely have been in greater danger from the hedgehog which is one of the toad's few predators immune to their repellent taste, and would regard it as the hedgehog version of a midnight feast.

And the calls of tawny owls accompanied us all the way to the top of the drive and back to the house again.

Labradors are greedy beggars ready to eat anything they can beg, or more often filch, but Inka has developed an unexpected taste. As I was picking raspberries he was moving on ahead of me quietly  sooking' them off the canes. Sheba, his predecessor of some years back, had a passion for pea pods and would lie at my feet when I was podding fresh peas, hypnotising me until I dropped a few pods down to her.

Last year I wrote about a hive of miner bees which had burrowed under the lawn of the Burn House at Edzell to build their nest, hence the name of the residents – of the hive, not the Burn House! They have appeared again this summer in the same spot. Conscious of the decline in all species of British bees, Warren Sanders, gardener at The Burn, wonders what can be done to protect the nest and encourage an increase in the numbers in the colony. Is there a bee man out there who can offer advice?