MEET Barnaby. The playful border collie is the new muse of award-winning Eynsham author Helen Peacocke, and may be the star of a new book.

Barnaby has big shoes to fill, as he takes the place of Ms Peacocke’s previous dog, and co-author, Pythius, who died recently aged 12.

Border collie Pythius was named as the co-author on four books about pub walks in Oxfordshire and the surrounding areas, and it is hoped one day Barnaby can pick up the mantle.

The books take in walks across Oxfordshire, and each has a pub that gave welcome to Pythius, who Ms Peacocke found through an advert in the Oxford Mail’s sister paper The Oxford Times.

Pythius died after the latest book, Paws in the Cotswolds, was written, and has prompted Ms Peacocke to send a message for those who have lost beloved pets not to be too downhearted, especially around Christmas.

She said: “He was my life, I live alone so he was my best friend.

“He will be forever remembered, not just as a faithful companion, but for his many enthusiasms and his ability to bring great joy to all he met.

“I had him 12-and-a-half years and he very sadly died.

“The pain was too great so I filled it with this lovely little border collie.

“Barnaby is eight weeks old and is chewing everything in sight. Most people are surprised that I had a new dog so quickly but the pain was so enormous I had to do something about it.

“There are so many animals who need good homes, so I would say to people who have lost pets not to let it get them down too much, but if you have the time to invest and look after them it can be so rewarding.

“I'll be taking him for walks and then working on a new book, Paws for Puppies.

“Border collies are so intelligent, it’s their intelligence which draws me to them.

“I will be taking this one for agility lessons. He’s only young but has already shown he is very advanced.

“It keeps them young and it keeps me young too.”