FOR more than 40 years shepherdess Viv Billingham Parkes has been breeding some of the country's finest Border Collies.

Now the former star of TV show One Man and His Dog is hoping her faithful four-legged friends will help her round-up a new generation of readers.

Viv, who lives on the shores of St Mary's Loch in the Yarrow Valley, has just published her very first novel - after 15 years of researching and writing.

The accomplished author has already penned five books about her beloved sheepdogs, including One Woman and Her Dog, The Shepherd's Wife and Whistle While You Work.

Her tomes have been well received by outdoor enthusiasts from around the world.

But now she has delved into the magical world of witchcraft, wizardry and Borders folklore for her debut novel, Opus Anima.

Viv explained: "Had I not succumbed to arthritis I would still be shepherding - however I'm doing the next best thing in that I still have my collie dogs.

"I wanted Opus Anima to be a work of art that readers could cherish and that is why we have 50 colour plates featured in the book.

"It has taken 15 years to complete Opus Anima.

"Although interwoven with a rich tapestry of Border history, magic and witchcraft, the manuscript is primarily designed to create awareness to the plight of farm animals."

Opus Anima is a humorous and touching novel written through the biographical eyes of shepherdess Vienna Maclean.

Her talking collies, sheep and horses endeavour to put the world to rights in this delightful novel.

Born in the Hebrides, eventually Vienna takes on a small hill farm in the Scottish Borders where she faces many trials and tribulations as well as one of the region's most famous scribes.

Viv explained: "Due to a genuine thirst for information initiated by his eminent rise to fame from humble beginnings, the late great James Hogg, The Ettrick Shepherd, features prominently in the narrative along with other heroes from prior centuries."

Opus Anima was officially launched on Friday at The Gordon Arms.