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.

… dogs go on with their doggy life (WH Auden)

October 24th, 2009

“KEEP OUT, Viscuous Animals” was the notice painted on the door of one of the outhouses, commandeered by our son as his personal “sheddie”. We never suffered the fate of Aunt Ada Doom in Stella Gibbon's comic novel “Cold Comfort Farm” who went mad on account of seeing “something nasty in the woodshed”, but the implicit threat was there.

We've always had dogs, and perhaps with the passage of time and remembering them through rose-tinted spectacles their imperfections have diminished, but the memory of them is of rather noble, better behaved dogs than most of the other wretched hounds we've met along the way.

Molly was my first very own dog that I bought myself – the by-blow of an unplanned union between a wayward springer spaniel and a raiking collie dog. I should have paid attention to my doubts about the purity of her lineage before I parted with £6, but she was a kind natured dog and very protective of the children. She had a thing about our neighbours' hens, but a veil can be drawn over that!

There were no such doubts about Jasper's genealogy, my first pure-bred springer spaniel. He had a habit of running clockwise round the house, never anti-c, and wore out a path in the gravel. He lost his hearing and the sight in one eye, and finally his life when a tractor caught him unawares on his blind side.

Another springer spaniel, Sykes, followed. Perhaps there was a bit of an attitude thing between us, but in reality I couldn't give him the time for training that he needed and he went to another home where he lived a happy and fulfilled life.

Then came Gibby, our first black Labrador, who was a gentle soul, although you wouldn't think it from his deep, bite-your-leg bark. He had one of the noblest heads on a dog of his breed I've ever seen. Stan, our last springer spaniel, came to us already well trained from a gamekeeper who was made redundant and couldn't keep all his dogs.

Black Sheba, a Labrador, was the sweetest natured of all our dogs. She was joined by Macbeth, who was exchanged for a supply of wallpaper (an affront to his masculinity that he has made up for by being the scruffiest dog in the whole world). After Sheba's death came the two Inkas, first grandfather, and now grandson.

It's hard to imagine life without a dog – if nothing else it gives you an excuse for talking to yourself.

If we've ever had a “viscuous” animal, it would have to be Macbeth before he had his autumn clip. He went in “deep litter” and came out a fashion victim. The whole procedure takes three hours and the transformation is staggering – pity it only lasts for about a day-and-a-half!

Written on Saturday, October 24th, 2009 at 12:54 pm for Weekly.