Seeing Into the Heart

See the whole album here: Joni, the Border Collie

I had taken this photo of Joni a few weeks ago (just before we were hit with the horrible flu virus that has kept me silent for weeks). I wanted to post it, but it wasn’t until I made a reply to a comment from someone on a post that I had the thoughts right for what I wanted to say about it.

You see, you look at this picture and you see a dog, someone else’s dog. If you like animals you might like the photo, especially if you are a Border Collie fan. But you can only see so much. The picture shows bright shiny happy eyes a snowy face, obviously from a time of play, clean white teeth (could be scary for some). But you can’t see the heart of this dog the way you can with your own.

What I am saying is that all dogs are special to their owners who love them and who have seen into their hearts. So when I look at your dog in a photograph, as lovely as it is, I only see a small part of this special animal. It’s a bit like an iceberg. So much is hidden beneath the surface. Isn’t that the same with us all? You have seen some child misbehaving, perhaps, pitying the poor parents as you see them struggling. They alone really see into the heart of this child and know the beauty hidden in there. Or a good friend of yours might be going through a rough patch and when someone who doesn’t know them very well is taken aback by a careless (or cutting) remark, you understand and stick with your friend from the love you have which opens your eyes to see into their heart. You see below the surface.

So I hope you enjoy the photograph of this dog. My dog. When I look at it I see the heart shining through in her eyes. I see a smile.

62 Responses

  1. How very true, Ellie. From a picture, casual acquaintance and sometimes even a friendship, we may not see what lies underneath. Your words bring to mind a story of my own that I would love to share.

    In 2014 ,
    while in New Zealand presenting for a wood art seminar, I had an experience that opened my eyes. In the evenings after the seminar, the artists gathered together to become acquainted as we traveled from different corners of the world. An Australian wood carver and I began chatting as he carefully sanded a spoon he carved from fragrant Tasmanian Huon Pine. He was a kind man and I felt very comfortable in his company. At the end of our conversation, he asked if I would like to have the spoon he had been so carefully sanding by hand. His gift was touching! One week after arriving home, my life changed as my marriage ended. Later, I wrote to my new friend and thanked him for his kind words and the gift he shared with me during our chat in NZ. He remarked that he didn’t think of himself as particularly kind person and that he was sad during that time as his wife was ill. We shared a bit of our stories and decided to create a collaborative work of art. When I received the beautiful piece , he included an artist’s statement referencing our interaction. We both were feeling sadness but wearing a smile and did not see underneath but maybe somehow we did? This experience has helped me to view the world in a more empathetic and sensitive way. I had the opportunity of connecting with Gary again while teaching in AU last month. It was lovely to see my friend again. He was able to see our piece for the first time and sat in on my slide presentation on inspiration in artwork. Our story was a part of my presentation….a touching moment to tell the story with my friend sitting in the audience.

    Thank you for posting your thoughts, Ellie and for allowing me the opportunity of sharing my story.


    1. And what a very moving story it is, thank you for sharing it, Cynthia. I would love to see a photo of the piece you made with Gary if you have one? Maybe you would share the story on G+ if you feel comfortable, along with the photo? Just a thought. But it would touch many people,I am sure of it.
      Thanks so much again Cynthia.

      1. The image I posted yesterday is the collaborative box Gary and I created together. I didn’t go into as much detail with he story, though. Thank you Ellie for sharing and allowing me to share.

        1. How lovely, Cynthia. I will take another look at it with this new understanding. Thank you for letting me know.

  2. Thanks so much +Ursula Klepper – first of all, I'm so glad you enjoyed the post and the photograph. Secondly, thank you yes, we are both feeling better. I am pretty much back to normal, Steven is not quite, but much much better.

    Thanks a lot +Dylan Johnson – we think so! As to the growing, she is certainly maturing, at 2.5 years old almost she is pretty much as grown as she will be.

    +Fe Badayos aren't they wonderful? They are amazing to watch when they are working or in competitions. And even on our walks I give Joni challenges and you can almost see her brain at work when she is thinking how to get where she needs to go to get her ball. For the flu – we did take lots! Took a lot of time as well, though.Thanks!

    Thanks +Zac Pérez

    Thank you my dear +Susanne Stelle !

    Thank you +Rubus Roo

    Thanks so much +Alex James. They really are a wonderful gift to us, as companions. That is a beautiful description of their qualities. The loss of them is almost unbearable, when it happens. Cuddles to little Sophie!

  3. Well said! Joni is a real beauty! Animals are incredible companions. We, who adore our pets and consider them family members, see their undying love, their loyalty, their non-judgmental ways, their pure strength, every day. They are selfless. They hide their pain so well. We do see so much more in our own loved ones, too. I can't imagine life without our furry little Sophie! 🙂
    +Ellie Kennard

  4. Wonderful written expression on a subject I have felt and been thinking about for some time! Thanks. Funny how some people only noticed the dog…

    1. I’m glad you liked it, thanks Joanne. I think it’s funny too, because my posts are usually about both the words and the pictures. Maybe it hits different people at different times in their lives. Someone else said it was the same with horses. And I know it is for cats as well. And probably all animals that we get to see into the heart of. Because they have them.
      Thanks for your thoughts.

  5. This is glorious, Ellie. I'm temporarily banned from the condo…allergic reaction to plaster dust (I'm having work done to expand work space). And the hotel down the street has us in the "garden level" (aka, basement) so Molly (dog) can be with me. Been there for awhile and hope to be home beg. next week. This is an AMAZING shot of Joni. Take care!
    +Ellie Kennard

  6. Thanks a lot +Stephen Thackeray – they are, I think.

    +Glenn Watt you are most welcome and thank you for that thoughtful response. Always hard to do, but important to try to remember to bear that in mind. For our friends and our animals. On my Twitter post sharing the blog post I said : "Seeing into the hearts of our dogs and friends and hoping our friends do the same".

  7. Oh, +Ellie Kennard. I've been trying to keep your message front-of-mind. There's always much more to the story than what we can see at first blush. While it may not be incumbent upon me to understand everyone's story, it is only humane of me to be empathetic; to know there's much more than mein eye can perceive.
    Thanks for this!

  8. +Tímea Karlovics thanks a lot.

    +Norma Rollo – I will check out the photos of your dog, thanks! I didn't have as many photos of our other dogs when they were pups or as adults, this was just a project I took on. I'm so glad I did. It must be wonderful to have a dog whose life you changed so much, by adoption.

  9. +Lynn David Newton – what an interesting comment. I really like that thought, that you just want to look at pictures of dogs sometimes. The album was always there, just that usually it didn't become obvious unless people clicked to view the image in the lightbox and could see the "Next" arrows. This way you can see it all, which is maybe better. The album share looks better in the new G+ than in the old.

    +Sumit Sen thanks again Sumit!

    Thanks very much +Rob Patterson – I am glad if they resonated with you.

    +Linda Jess – You know it! 😀

    +Mathias Böttcher they are such special dogs. Greetings back to you, thank you.

  10. Very nice essay. Joni does have remarkably expressive eyes. I don't have a dog myself and never have, but I do like other people's dogs, at least to look at. In fact, every once in a while I'll go to Google Images and look for pictures of dogs for no other reason than because I happen to want to look at a dog at that moment — which some people might consider strange from someone who isn't a dog person. Anyhow, I looked through the album and found quite a few I'd never seen, including some good ones. Glad you made an album out of them.

  11. Joni is gorgeous. And I agree. Nobody sees the soul of my dogs except Tom and me. But I absolutely get along better with dog and photography folks than any others. They at least look for the heart.

    1. Hi there Cathy,
      Thanks for that lovely thought. You are so right, though I would stretch that to include animal lovers in general. They do indeed take the time and effort to try to look a little deeper.

  12. What beautiful pictures. I have a tri coloured Border Collie. Unfortunately as he is a rescue dog we didn't know him as a puppy. If you click on my icon you should see pictures of him.

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