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.

Hunger is the best sauce in the world – Miguel Cervantes

April 3rd, 2010

SMALL DOGS sometimes make a bigger impact than their size suggests.

Macbeth, our West Highland terrier has short, sawn-off legs and stands eleven inches tall at the shoulder   Inka is a black Labrador and, with his much longer legs, is about twenty-two inches tall   He is Inka 2 and the grandson of Inka 1 who we lost in October 2008.

I have sometimes described Macbeth, perhaps unfairly, as having as much brains as a docken, but when it comes to food it's clear there are no flies on him – if that isn't too confusing a cocktail of metaphors!   Like some other dogs I've met he'll devour the most revolting things that he finds on our walks, and I have to prise open his jaws and remove whatever unsavoury treat he is urgently trying to bolt down his throat.

Sometimes I'm too late and he scampers out of reach with a smug look on his face   Come his next meal, Macbeth is feeling decidedly unwell and refuses the food put out for him in his bowl.

Labradors are inveterately greedy but I've got Inka pretty well trained to drop most of the forbidden fruits he picks up   When he first became part of the family he thought, like his grandfather before him, that Macbeth's untouched bowl meant second helpings – a misjudgement that was swiftly corrected!

It's been interesting watching Macbeth imposing his small personality on both his large companions   He lies beside his food bowl, his innards churning like a washing machine, growling horribly and threatening retribution that only other dogs can understand   But the message clearly is that the food in Macbeth's bowl is his   It's no good Inka trying to snaffle it when Macbeth isn't looking, and claiming that a bigger dog said he had to do it.

The story was played out again a couple of evenings past   Macbeth had turned down his supper of meat and biscuits which sat, untouched, beside his bed all night, just across the hall from Inka   As usual Macbeth crept upstairs and spent the night in our bedroom   When I went down in the morning his food was still untouched.

What a great temptation it must have been for Inka who is like a typical teenager, always wanting more to eat   What force of character Macbeth must be able to express in his pint-sized frame.

For several mornings the Doyenne has watched mistle thrushes flying into the holly tree beside the house with their beaks stuffed with nesting material   They are the earliest of the garden birds to nest and lay their eggs   This same week, two years ago, I wrote about mistle thrushes building their nest in a fork in the branches of a gean, or wild cherry tree   So the recent hard weather hasn't upset the tempo of their breeding cycle.

Written on Saturday, April 3rd, 2010 at 11:45 am for Weekly.