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Sherlock Bones Shines at Malice Domestic
By Jean C. Keating

     When mystery buffs and writers descended on the Sheraton National in Arlington, Virginia on April 30th for the sixteenth annual Malice Domestic conference, the event culminated with the presentation of the Agatha award, named for beloved English author Agatha Christie. The tiniest attendee there was dressed to honor another famous figure in mystery literature, however. A five-pound Papillon named Puff [Astra’s Coffee’N Cream] accompanied his author/owner in his persona of Sherlock Bones. His costume—tiny pants with black suspends, a white button up shirt with tie, a dog-size version of Holmes’ famous coat with cape and spy glass, and a deerstalker’s hat—was designed and constructed by Donna Jacobson, whose day job is designing and making eighteenth century period costumes for Colonial Williamsburg. Donna chuckled at the challenge of creating a hat that would be visible when set between the huge butterfly ears of the tiny dog and not be too heavy for a head she described as “two fleas wide and half-a-grasshopper long”. Puff—Mr. Sherlock Bones—was not available for comment, being far too busy trying to eat his hat. 

     On the other hand, his enchanted owner had a great deal to say about the delightful behavior of this little butterfly at his first national conference. He walked on to and off of elevators without hesitation, followed calmly at his owner’s side through huge revolving doors, and sat at the speakers’ table during her presentation as though he’d done it all before. Because of an open mike to record the sessions and speakers, verbal commands were not possible at the speaker’s table, but Puff smoothly responded to hand signals for downs that he’d never been trained to understand. His doting owner’s comment was, “Even after 23 years with this intelligent and happy breed, I discover new things daily that continue to astound me.” About three hundred of the attendees at Malice Domestic agreed, coming over to pet, hold and admire Sherlock Bones. 

© 2004 Jean Keating All Rights Reserved Jean Keating can be reached at 


Photo courtesy Jean Keating


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