Since I’ve retired from writing books, Mum sometimes asks me to help her out. She wanted to write a column about Dickens, the dog in her cozy mystery series, but she’s been too busy writing more and more books. I mean, can you believe the third one just came out and she’s already got another one ready?

She thought me writing about a dog would be right up my alley, and I agreed. After all, Dickens is a smaller version of moi — and younger as Mum likes to remind me. He’s not any better looking, mind you, just smaller and younger. Now that we’ve got that straight, let me tell you more about him — the little Dickens.

My fans may recall that two of my great-grandparents were Great Pyrenees, and they were the Royal Dogs of France. That’s how I came to be known as Lord Banjo. Even though my fur is black, I’m a Pyr. Full-blooded Pyrs are white and weigh much more than I do. I weighed in at 80 pounds when I first arrived here at the royal abode, but I’m down to around 60 now. Let me tell you, the first 10 pounds were a struggle, but the next 10 weren’t so hard.

Dickens is a Pyr, but the boy’s a dwarf Pyr. Sometimes it just happens that two Pyr parents have a dwarf puppy. Dickens weighs only 40 pounds, though some of the dwarves weigh a little more. Some are deaf too, but not Dickens. He hears everything, and if you read Mum’s books, you know he can communicate with his owner. That’s right, Leta understands him and vice versa. How cool is that?

Dickens has a great life in the Cotswolds, where Leta owns a cottage with a garden. He likes to roll in the grass and sniff around the stone wall that encloses it. He’s a big believer in corner-checking which is what he calls sniffing every inch of the wall. Leta lets him out to do that every morning. She tosses him a treat as he heads out the kitchen door and he goes to work. And like me, Dickens is a fiend for belly rubs. When anyone approaches him and leans down to pet him, he assumes the belly rub position. That little Dickens is a smart boy.

He enjoys his garden, but his favorite thing is visiting the donkeys. He and Leta walk a mile down a country lane to see Martha and Dylan, and Leta takes carrots to feed ‘em. Those donkeys come running — well trotting — when they see them coming because they know Leta always has carrots in her pockets. They duck their heads down to touch Dickens, and he loves it.

Dickens and Leta are originally from Atlanta, and it had only been in the last few years that Leta could take him to sit outside at a restaurant. The Cotswolds are different, though. If you can believe it, Leta can take him into pubs — and some pubs have dog beds scattered around for dogs to snooze in. If he doesn’t go for a bed, he hangs out in front of one of the fireplaces or beneath the table. Leta has two friends who sneak him snacks. She says they’re incorrigible because no matter what she says, they sneak him chunks of buns or chips or sometimes a bite of a burger.

She’s worried Dickens will turn into a little butterball, but they go on lots of long walks, so I think he’ll be okay. He also gets to go lots of places with Leta in her refurbished London taxi. He has a special harness in the back seat so he’s safe.

I think the boy has a wonderful life, and I’m just a teeny bit jealous. The part I’m not jealous of? He had to ride in the cargo hold of a jet to get to England — nine hours. My thoughts on that? No way, José. No one’s getting me on a plane. I’m staying right here in the royal abode. I can enjoy Dickens’ life vicariously by reading Mum’s books. And you can do the same. You can find the Christmas book — "Whiskers, Wreaths & Murder” — on Amazon along with the just-released box set of all three books in the Dickens & Christie Mystery series.

Lord Banjo lives with award-winning author Kathy Manos Penn in Sandy Springs. Find her cozy mysteries at the Enchanted Forest and on Amazon. Contact her at inkpenn119@gmail.com.

Kathy is a Sandy Springs resident. Find her books, “Lord Banjo the Royal Pooch” and “The Ink Penn: Celebrating the Magic in the Everyday,” at the Enchanted Forest and on Amazon. Contact her at inkpenn119@gmail.com, follow her on Facebook, www.facebook.com/KathyManosPennAuthor/, and/or read her blogs at https://theinkpenn.blogspot.com.

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