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.

Giant house pet

November 3rd, 2012

THE CHOICE of household pets is a personal affair.

I was speaking with a man who admitted that he too owned a black Labrador. I nodded in sympathy, the way Labrador owners do, but I was completely unprepared when he told me that he also owned a Dutch Giant House Rabbit.

Compared to our countryside bunnies these are truly giants. This one weighs nearly one and a half stone and has ears more than a foot long. Fortunately it’s house trained and has learned to use the cat litter tray, but it prefers to sleep in the dog’s basket rather than its own cardboard box and blanket.

I can’t help thinking that if its owner didn’t take it out for walks on a lead while the dog ran free, the rabbit wouldn’t have got it into its head that it was a Labrador and been quite happy to sleep in its own box.

It all reminded me of the 1950s film, Harvey, starring James Stewart whose best friend was a six-foot-tall invisible rabbit called Harvey who drank Martinis and whose face could stop clocks.

A week ago, along with two dozen others, I attended an historic event. It was the first reunion of the Primary 3 class of Montrose Academy, the Little Academy as the Primary Department was known to Montrosians.

It had been more than sixty years since we all had met together and I’m glad to report that the passage of years seems to have treated us all fairly benignly.

I came back to the district I grew up in and it was interesting to see how far work or marriage, or both, had taken some of us – one returned from America for the party. Aged nine I was packed off to boarding school and lost touch with a lot of those early friends, so I apologise again to the girls whose names I had forgotten.

It set me thinking about the mysteries of the Cycle of Life but, more to the point, I wondered what thoughts passed through the mind of our Primary 3 teacher who was Guest of Honour. She and I meet from time to time and have always tacitly recognised that the quality of my writing was surely forged in those heady, far-off days. Well, you never care to contradict your P3 teacher!

Last Sunday evening I took the dogs out at 6pm but, of course, for the dogs it was 7pm because the clocks went back an hour the previous night. The dogs don’t give a hoot about autumn equinoxes or winter time – as far as their internal time clocks were concerned the walk was late, supper would be later and the situation was turning ugly.

It was easy walking (I didn’t need the torch) and Macbeth stood out clearly under the almost full moon in a star-spangled sky. A pair of tawny owls were in a high state of excitement, calling repeatedly to each other for five minutes or more – I can’t think what was exercising them so to cause such an unusually long exchange.

The dogs and I must be so familiar and shouldn’t disturb them. Other large nocturnal travellers like roe deer or a fox must be even more familiar. I suppose it was just another of nature’s conundrums which my old biology teacher used to explain away by saying – “We just have to say we don’t know”.

Walking in these pale, half-light conditions is always special – just me and my dogs, cocooned from the daytime world.

The night-time world can be a busy place. Stand quite still for a while and the night travellers and night workers soon become active again, rustling in amongst the grass and dead leaves. Without the clutter of daytime countryside noise, sound travels great distances on the still evening air – dogs barking, cattle bawling, the wild geese’s faint cries – the rest of the world seems a long way away.

From the comfort of the warm kitchen the Doyenne watched the withered, sere beech leaves cascading down, stripped off the high branches by an impatient, tugging wind. “It’s just like when the poppy leaves are released at the end of the British Legion’s Festival of Remembrance in the Albert Hall,” was her comment.

And it really was.

Written on Saturday, November 3rd, 2012 at 11:28 am for Weekly.