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.

It’s not only chickens that cross the road

December 18th, 2010

EDZELL HIGH Street isn't the obvious place I'd direct nature lovers to see a cock pheasant, but driving through the village earlier in the week there he was in the middle of the road, like the proverbial chicken, dodging the traffic to get to the other side.

The hard weather and snow-covered fields have made foraging difficult for all the animals   I shouldn't be surprised if my Edzell pheasant has a daily round of calls to houses whose sympathetic owners welcome him and encourage him to stay a while with handfuls of corn or whatever is on offer.

Wild birds quickly lose a lot of their mistrust of us humans if we look after them when food is in short supply – think about the songbirds coming to your bird table   Availability of food is a primary consideration in their lives and if the feeding is easy they'll soon settle for the easy option, turning up each day looking for the handouts.

Some years ago there was a cock pheasant called Jocky who, every breakfast time, made a grand entrance at some friends' kitchen window and tapped imperiously with his beak on the window panes   He had matters so well under control that the children in the family left their own breakfasts and rushed out to feed him.

For a while he led a charmed life   It's painful to recall the details of his demise other than to say that, like the dead parrot in the Monty Python sketch, Jocky became  €œbereft of life €.

You might wonder why my Edzell pheasant didn't fly across the High Street instead of dicing with death amongst the cars   Cock pheasants are heavy birds and flying uses up a lot of energy   They are powerful runners and will run rather than fly if they have the choice   But if the Edzell boy doesn't brush up on his Highway Code it may not be long before, like Jocky, he's an ex-pheasant.

Poor Inka – out walking in the snow I noticed he was hirpling   It was clearly painful but there was no blood so I thought that perhaps he had twisted his paw and it would heal up overnight   In fact one of his claws had split lengthwise, an injury I haven't seen before, and it has been clipped right back to the quick.

He's all bandaged up now, but the foot is still tender and he can't put weight on it   To ensure the dressing stays dry I wrap a plastic bag round his leg when we go out, which is undignified for a noble dog   I was so intent on making sure he didn't jump in slush and puddles I was caught unawares by the cock pheasant that exploded from just a scrap of cover at my feet   Talk about a fleg – I near had a heart attack!

Written on Saturday, December 18th, 2010 at 10:21 pm for Weekly.