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.

Death on the wing

January 15th, 2011

THEY SAY there are 97 Eskimo words to describe snow   Be that as it may I have trimmed my list down to one, which is concise and to the point and I hope conveys how browned-off I am with snow that fell some seven weeks ago and still hasn't shifted.

I was in Arbroath earlier this week and there's not a drop of the white stuff to be seen   They've probably got snowdrops in all their gardens   The way things are going it could be Easter before we see the first one round here.

There have been a couple of false alarms that a thaw was on the way but I would like to think that the one threatening at the moment is really going to keep its promise   Just to maintain the sense of ordained despair with questionable hope, it's best to keep in mind that we wouldn't normally expect snow until February   So we may have to go through the whole damn business all over again.

However, the grandchildren had some great sledging when they came to visit at Christmas. These are the sort of childhood memories that seem to endure for most folk, and we shared their pleasure   I even had a go myself, and on somebody's blog, somewhere, there's a photo of grandfather Whitson with his legs in the air!

The wee loch at the back of the house has been frozen over for the past five weeks or so   The last time the dogs and I were round that way a small bunch of the resident duck were huddled in one corner and we were within a dozen feet of them before they took flight briefly and landed back on the ice again 60/70 yards away    With no let up in the hard weather for such an extended period, and feeding scarce, they didn't want to use up energy unnecessarily.

The Doyenne came back from walking the dogs and related a story of drama and death. She disturbed a cock pheasant in thick cover which rose almost vertically from the undergrowth, and with powerful beating wings shot skywards   It can't have been paying attention to where it was going because it flew headfirst into the high branch of an old beech tree and crashed senseless to the ground.

True his breeding – he is a Labrador, after all – Inka cantered off to retrieve it but the Doyenne stopped him and brought him back to heel   She explained that she was unsure whether she could claim the bird, and in any event it might only have been stunned and would recover.

I didn't share her reservations and took the dogs out again along her route   Sure enough I found him lying stone dead in the snow   I guess he broke his neck with the impact   He's in the deep freeze now.

Written on Saturday, January 15th, 2011 at 10:35 am for Weekly.