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.

Summer soaking

September 1st, 2012

WELLIES ON, wellies off, and on, and off – if only the weather could just make up its mind.

I think 1978 was probably the last year I can remember a summer quite as wet as this one. An abiding memory from the autumn of that year is driving down Pert Brae, the long hill that runs down to the crossroads at the Upper Northwaterbridge (which crosses the River North Esk, just north of Stracathro), after several days of relentless rain.

A torrent of rainwater gushed from a tattie field at the top of the brae and streamed down the hill. I dropped my speed and half the tattie crop, which had been washed out of the ground, overtook me and sailed off down the hill ahead of me.

My destination was Edzell but the road was flooded at the foot of the brae and impassable. I turned back to go by Marykirk instead. The burn on the outskirts of the village that used to drive the meal mill at Marymill farm was notorious for bursting its banks – and had done it again.

As I drove through the flood my engine stalled and stopped. I’d got my shoes and socks off and my trousers rolled up, and was about to wade for help, when a Landrover came up behind me and gently pushed my car to dry land. After a couple of turns the engine coughed back to life and I was on my way again.

Now, wasn’t that lucky.

It’s the best year for chanterelle mushrooms I’ve ever known and I’ve been picking them in parts of the wood where I never found them before – I presume the prolonged damp conditions have helped the germination process.

My breakfast favourite is a smoking plate of chanterelles and three or four rashers of bacon. Their beefy flesh and strong, distinctive taste are delicious additions in a pot of stew. And the Doyenne’s leek and chanterelle soup has been voted a winner.

Macbeth has had his post-summer trim and looks like something off the lid of a chocolate box. For a dog whose ancestors originated from the Kilmartin area of Argyll, close to Dunadd Fort, coronation site of the kings of ancient Dalriada from whom he undoubtedly thinks he is descended, he finds all the primping and prinking nothing short of an affront to his masculinity.

And we’re in the thick of Inka’s autumn moult. I know he needs to shed the old hair and let a new coat grow in, but what with black hair carpeting the floor and muddy pawmarks when we come in from walks, the hoover is forever on the go.

The dogs and I took a turn by the lochan at the back of the house. This is always the quietest time, when the seasonal visitors like the coots and waterhens and the widgeon and dabchicks which came to nest, have departed.

We saw the usual resident mallard, and four young tufted duck which haven’t flown off yet – the drakes have rather dusty juvenile flanks which will soon change to the conspicuous white plumage of adult birds.

Some dogs display a greater than usual affinity with their owners and contribute significantly to the quality of their masters’ lives.

Max is a rescue dog and when he and his owner, Ian, met they took to each other straight away. Perhaps it was because Ian had been diagnosed with early Altzheimers and the two of them sensed a need for mutual support. The fact that they shared a sense of fun helped bond the relationship.

As Ian’s illness has progressed Max’s sense of responsibility for his friend has grown. Ian’s illness manifests itself in quite benign ways – when he and Max are out walking Ian enjoys swinging round the lampposts, just like a wee laddie.

On one occasion Ian swung an extra half turn and started retracing his steps. Max took charge and tugged on the lead until Ian got the message and turned for home again.

Was it common sense, or showing leadership, or did Max just find himself going in the wrong direction for supper? I don’t really doubt that, while Max clearly doesn’t know, he has an intuitive awareness of his master’s difficulties and understands his master’s need for protection.

Written on Saturday, September 1st, 2012 at 10:56 pm for Weekly.