Red merle Border Collie

Jasper – my new hills buddy

Having decided that our empty nester life was just too easy and restful, we welcomed Jasper the pup to the family in January of this year. Jasper is a Border Collie and those with collies (or know any) will know that you can wave goodbye to a quiet, restful, sofa-based life when they arrive!

We’re now mostly past the ‘fluffy shark’ phase and most of his needle-sharp teeth are dropping out with nice big adult teeth coming in behind.. and with some ongoing training, he’s much less inclined to get attention with some mouthing. My trousers, shoes and hands are glad about that. A piranha in a ‘red merle’, cute coat.

Unfortunately, it hasn’t been at all plain sailing for the boy health-wise.

To cut a long story short, some concern from us and the pup trainer (a vet nurse) about his gait and very short attention span (more than ‘just’ puppy giddiness) saw Jasper having x-rays not long after we got him home. They showed he had hip laxity (loose tendons from his femurs to his hip joints / sockets, in my lay terms).

Without the physio (including hydrotherapy) that he is now having, he may have developed hip dysplasia (and may still), which is really bad so young. And his lifestyle wouldn’t be that of a hills hound, more a local moocher, always on pain meds. Not what he or we want for him at such a young age.

I was pretty devastated when it was diagnosed. I was really looking forward to when he was old enough to walk for hours on the moors (and further afield) as I did with lovely Brodie. And aside from feeling sorry for myself, I was more upset for him and what his future might be. But he is now having regular hydrotherapy to build up his tendons and muscles and the signs so far are that his laxity has improved. It’s too early (as I write this in early May) to say what the long term prognosis is, but the vets are on the side of optimism.

With luck and an ongoing focus on his development, he’ll one day hopefully be a happy boy out on the hills and moors around us and join me on a mountain or several, on long day walks.

** Update August 2022 **

Since I first wrote this post, Jasper’s hip laxity really improved through hydrotherapy. But then he developed ‘steroid responsive meningitis’ / SRMA and couldn’t bend his neck due to an inflamed spinal cord). A long period of steroids (not great as has horrible side effects) between approximately 6 months and 12 months did see him improve and at 19 months (at the time of writing) or so he is SRMA-free.

He then (drama pup) developed ‘necrotising pancreatitis’ (!).. a very serious condition caused we / vet think by eating something horrible out on a walk or two and the steroids that were suppressing his immune system (see above) were allowing an overload of bacteria to develop and set up home in his pancreas. Two nights in ICU and another 3 days in vet hospital thankfully saved his life. It was touch and go.

The last 6 months have seen him illness free and a healthy boy. To the future! To the hills!

** end of update **

Here he is in some photos – just a handful from the many of course that I have taken in the first 4 months since we got him.

Border Collie puppy red merle
Jasper at the end of Jan 2021, the week we brought him home.. and just as the cold weather kicked in. Which didn’t bother him at all.
Red merle Border Collie
Our first few walks out were of course, pretty short .. into the village, in this case, to look at the weir and be wary of the ducks. (He’s less wary, more stare-y, now!)
Red merle Border Collie
One of Jasper’s early moors walks with Anita and I. Although we drove up out of the village first to get to the edge of the moor. Better at this stage for both his age and his hip laxity.
Red merle Border Collie
Yes, I’ve been training Jasper to perfect the attentive-dog-lying-on-a-rock pose. In this case, one of the rocks with a fossil in it (top left of the rock as you look at it) that you find dotted about the moors (or at least those you can see, above the peat). See my Instagram feed # of #marsdenfossils for some more.

5 thoughts on “Jasper – my new hills buddy”

    • Thanks Paul, great insight! I have a couple of outdoors friends with Border Collies but also think of you when I think of collies on the hills! Aye, he has great markings, handsome lad as you say, he has no chance with me and my photo habit.

  1. Hi, just wanted to say thanks for doing this blog. I stumbled across the blog looking for walks and stuff around Meltham and Wessenden Valley (I done the usual), as me and my young family are (hopefully) moving to Meltham once the bloody nightmare house buying process ends!

    Cannot wait to live out this way!



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