TWO lively Springer spaniels have become the unlikely stars of a spiritual book.

Meditation teacher Gary Heads turned to his canine companions to help lead readers of his latest book on a journey towards mindfulness.

Mr Heads from Hamsterley, in County Durham, has been practising meditation for more than 30 years.

He now hopes to appeal to a whole new audience with The Enlightened Spaniel: A Dog's Quest to be a Buddhist, which is told through the eyes of his two dogs Ella and Indi.

Mr Heads' work supports people across the UK who want to find a sense of calm, from those struggling with mental health issues to people wanting to find a way to deal with stress.

In 2016 he released his first book, an academic publication called Living Mindfully: Discovering Authenticity through Mindfulness Coaching.

But the new one is meant to be more fun and appeal to animal lovers.

He said: “I wanted to reach a wider audience but I also wanted to write a book that had humour.

"I didn’t write the book specifically to appeal to anyone with a Springer Spaniel but it naturally appeals to them.

“I’ve written an academic book but I wanted this one to be fun and at the same time it teaches you about meditation, mindfulness and the teachings of the Buddha.

"I hope people smile when they read it and look to learn from it and incorporate meditation into their daily lives.

"Or maybe they’ll just go off and buy a spaniel.”

The story unfolds as Indi, the narrator, and half-sister Ella set off on a journey to learn about the reasons why their devoted owner meditates.

The hairy duo embark on a quest to discover the secrets of meditation and uncover the path to ancient wisdom, hoping to earn their place in spaniel folklore.

Mr Heads has sold thousands of books in the UK and as far as America and major stores, such as Waterstones, have started to stock it. He also has more than 4,000 followers on social media, most of them Spaniel lovers.

He has also set up his own publishing company, Right Nuisance Publishing, and is already working on a second book about The Enlightened Spaniel and a cat who thinks it only has one life left to lead.

The book has been illustrated by Toby Ward, who is known for his animated drawings recording events such as President Clinton’s visit to Oxford and the work of the UN Peace Keeping Force in Bosnia.

Mr Heads will sign copies of his new book at The Mindful Living Show, in London, on March 15 and 16.