It’s no secret that food writer Helen Peacocke shares her life and cottage with a tri-coloured border collie named Pythius and insists on giving him the dignity of a surname – hence Pythius-Peacocke. Those who have worked alongside Helen know only too well that she tries to add little homilies about him into her writing whenever she can.

She even manages to sneak his name into her Oxford Times food pages from time to time. So, when Helen announced that her first book was about to be published and was entitled Paws Under the Table, it came as no surprise.

She told me: “My colleagues expected nothing less, particularly as the book, which is written in two voices — mine and the dog’s – takes the reader to 40 dog-friendly pubs and on walks from Oxford to the Cotswolds. Naturally these are walks and pubs Pythius and I have shared during the past year, with friends such as Auntie Liz, Uncle John and the formidable Auntie Kate, volunteer Cotswold warden, who strides out with great purpose.”

Helen accepts that not everyone will believe that a Border collie can write, but she doesn’t care. As far as she is concerned, the dog had to be given a voice and that’s exactly what she has done. She said: “My publisher, Jon Carpenter, of Wychwood Press, was rather alarmed when he discovered that Pythius-Peacocke could not spell, but even he fell for his canine charms in the end.”

Each chapter contains her professional comments on the pub, the history of the village or town they visited, and details of the nearby walk.

The amusing thing about this delightful little book is that what Helen observes and enjoys is not always seen in the same light by her beloved four-legged friend. Take a muddy pond in the middle of a wood, for instance. If Helen spots this before Pythius-Peacocke, she can take avoiding action. But if the dog smells it out before she does, he is able to write with joy about the glorious mud he encountered so unexpectedly.

I asked Helen what motivated her to write this book. She feels it’s important to encourage us all to use our country pubs or lose them. “With more than 30 pubs nationwide closing every week, I have become alarmed that there might well come a day when there is no pub to use as a watering hole before or after a long walk.

“Just ten days before the manuscript was due to be printed, I took one final tour, only to discover that one I had listed had already closed. A big rewrite was required urgently.” Her boast is that she has reviewed or visited almost every pub in Oxfordshire. As an award-winning beer writer, she also knows and enjoys beers brewed locally. So her comments on pubs that serve a good beer should be taken seriously. Naturally, many of the pubs she has selected for this book also pride themselves on locally sourced food to go with their well-kept beer. Readers will soon note that there are a few pubs chosen for location rather than local food.

The fun of this guide, however, is that she leaves some things unsaid.

While she does not categorically state that a particular pub serves ready-prepared food, the reader can soon guess that it does.

The book is illustrated with Helen’s photographs, taken during the walks, and with drawings by the Oxfordshire artist Sue Mynall, who produced them after spending hours in Pythius-Peacocke’s company, observing his every move.

These charming little sketches add just the right note to a book, which is both informative and amusing. Dog lovers will adore it, and those without dogs who enjoy visiting pubs and taking a country walk will enjoy it, too.

Helen had such fun writing this book that she is considering a sequel. Should it be Paws for Thought, Paws for a Picnic or Paws for History, which would give a dog’s opinion on Oxfordshire’s ancient monuments hidden in the countryside?

Helen and Pythius will launch the book at The Bookshop, Oxford Street, Woodstock, with a brief talk, followed by a short local walk, finishing at The Woodstock Arms, where free nibbles will be supplied for those who stay for a drink. The event on Sunday, June 21, at 4.30pm, is free. Places can be booked by ringing 01993 812760.