We’re babysitting a friend’s dog while she is out of the country, and as you can see, he has one blue eye and one brown. I’ve always found different color eyes on a dog a bit disorienting; I’m curious about how long it will take me to get used to it.
Question One: Do you have a dog that has different color eyes? How did/do you react to it?
Thinking about eye color got me thinking about the importance of eye contact in social relationships. We know quite a bit about it in human relationships, and are beginning to learn about it in interspecific ones (relationships between individuals of two species). For example, we know that prolonged eye contact between strangers, if in a safe and relaxing environment, increases oxytocin and thus feelings of attachment.
As I write in a 2015 post: . . . one can evaluate the level of maternal bonding by measuring the length of mutual gazing, and predict the amount of gazing based on maternal oxytocin levels. Gazing and oxytocin levels appear to exist in a “positive loop,” in which gazing increases oxytocin, and oxytocin increases gazing.
Did you get that last line? “Gazing increases oxytocin, and oxytocin increases gazing.” How cool is that? And, of course, we now know that oxytocin levels increase when owners make eye contact with their dog, IF the person reports high levels of satisfaction with their dog’s behavior.
An increase in oxytocin isn’t confined just to our species, however. Julie Hecht wrote in Scientific American about a study that showed its levels rise in dogs too after prolonged gazing into the eyes of their owners.
But there is a lot more about eyes and eye contact than that. How many times have trainers and behaviorists warned well-meaning dog lovers to not stare into an unfamiliar dog’s eyes? Humans greet strangers with direct eye contact and outstretched arms. They tend to greet unfamiliar dogs the same way, which is so far beyond rude in canine society that if dogs could write blogs that’s all they’d complain about. (And not being allowed to eat cat poop. And, okay, there would be more.)
And then there’s the whole “fake eye” problem, in which we torture dogs by looking as though we are sporting huge eyes with extra-dilated pupils when we point camera lenses at them or put on sun glasses.
If you’ve never thought about how much information there is in a dilated pupil, check out this video of a kitten watching a horror movie:
And then, of course, there’s the opposite, or what is called a hard eye, in which a dog’s eyes go cold and still, and your heart stops and the primitive part of your brain screams, like the siren on a WWII submarine, DIVE DIVE!
It feels like I could keep writing about the information conveyed in the eyes of highly social mammals for days. About how eyes can look relaxed or tense. Note the eyebrows on the dog below:
About the sideways look that dogs throw out every once in a while that I swear means they are laughing at us. But I’ll stop here, because Maggie just walked up to me, put her paw in my lap and looked deeply into my eyes when I turned my head to look at her. There is no mistaking the message her eyes conveyed. Stop dancing your paws on the clacky thing and come outside with me! It is cool and beautiful outside and there are toys to chase and sheep to herd and now NOW is the time. NOW, OH PLEASE NOW NOW NOW.”
Good on you Maggie, out we go.
But before we do, More questions for you (sorry Maggie): What about you and your dog’s eyes? Do you gaze into them for long periods of time? What information do you get from your dog’s eyes? Do you have a dog with different colored eyes? What do you think your dog would say about this issue if s/he could take over this conversation?
MEANWHILE, back on the farm: I never thought much about the green and gold colors of the Green Bay Packers until my first fall in Wisconsin. Yeah, it’s pretty much green and gold everywhere here.
Here’s a lovely patch of color in a nearby prairie. I’m so aware that the Time of No Color is coming. It’s the hardest part of winter for me. Oh wait, except for the ice.
Whatever it is like where you are, I hope you can savor some parts of it.
I love to have eye contact with my dogs (of course only when they are in the mood for it as well and don’t look at me with that ‚leave me alone‘ expression). When the dogs and I are on the couch (Yes, I am one of those who cannot get enough cuddles …) they always look me in the eye with that soft, loving expression and at the same time try to hypnotize me to rub their belly or scratch their ears. My son always says the dogs and I seem to ‚lock eyes‘. I also teach my dogs the cue ‚watch‘ (at me) to be able to get their attention when needed. Whenever I have my seizures/drop attacks my assistance dog Holly seems to look at me without a blink, always paying attention if there is a change. In contrast to that my young male stares at me behind my back (you can really feel it) and when I turn round he starts wagging his tale and tries to make me play with him. In my opinion dogs and humans use eye contact even more than we are aware of and it is a very authentic way of communication.
Kelly Schlesinger says
I watched the kitty video and cannot help but wonder – what exactly is a horror film for cats? Do the birds come after them?
Oh that very intense messaging that they do sometimes…just like Maggie did, a context we know well here…but other times too. It is so clearly intentional. “I am telling you this.” Frustrating when you don’t know exactly what – makes you feel quite dumb and that you need to apologise. I am sure there is some sort of energy or frequency there that we can learn to receive.
Chris from Boise says
I have blue eyes, but prefer brown-eyed dogs. Odd, isn’t it? Habi had different colored eyes, which to the very end I found disconcerting. Her brown one always seemed warmer than her blue one, so I still think of her as having soft brown eyes.
Obi is happy with some eye contact, but new(ish) Rowan is a champion at it. She melts everyone’s hearts as she leans into them (and oozes up into their laps), gazing lovingly the whole time. She’s quite the winsome manipulator.
Beautiful photos! Happy autumn!
Poppy (toy poodle) watches me to see what I am going to do next, and to catch my eye in order to tell me what she needs with bounces, tail wags and short barks. She will also gaze lovingly into my eyes, and slowly doze off. Sophy (papillon) on the other hand seems to stare in order to transfer her thoughts. She will hold my gaze, then flick her eyes very briefly to the problem – a cat on her bed, an empty bowl, an immobile toy. Often she will just stare until I get the message. Usually it is happy or easy, when she just wants a game or to go out, but there have been times when she has really needed help and we have shared a moment of such deep communication that I could almost believe thought transference is possible.
I find it fascinating that dogs can use a human means of communication so very effectively, when it has such a different meaning in canine language.
Christina Hin says
I don’t know why but I somehow got it into my head that I should not look my puppy in the eye in case he thought I was threatening. I have to work hard on getting eye contact the past few months. He is now 10months old and we are just starting to get to the stage where he will look me in the eye of his own accord. It feels so good when he does it.
I’ve often wondered about this with my guide dog puppies. If they go to a person who is completely blind (lots of guide dog users are visually impaired–they have some vision, but not enough to get around safely) how does the dog adjust? What other cues do they learn to read? What other bonding mechanisms do they use? Do they continue to look at the person’s face if the person is not looking back? Is it different for the dog if their human partner was blind from birth or lost their sight later?
I’ve got a lot more questions than answers here…
Odd-eyed dogs always weird me out a bit, as do merle-eyed dogs; even blue eyes. I have a lot more trouble reading them. I have dark brown eyes, so maybe I’m just prejudiced.
My dog, Wish, has two eyes the same color (blue) but two different sizes! Known as microphthalmia, his is because he is a double merle and it gives him a perpetual o.O confused look. I like dogs with any kind of heterochromia though, just as much as any other colored eyed dog or dogs with microphthalmia to the degree that you can’t see the pupil/they are blind. See, I’m Autistic and while I can read eyes for communication, the whole body communicates, more so than the eyes. Though I find it easier to look into the eyes of a dog than a human, I still find it uncomfortable. I find it far more uncomfortable to look into the eyes of a stranger dog than into the eyes of a dog I know well – perhaps much like dogs feel? A gaze can be loving and send messages, but it can also be too intense and too full of emotions and feelings and convey far too much of what the other person is thinking. Huh, I just realized how much my eye contact skills are in line with that of dogs! 🙂
I have an 18-month-old, blue merle Sheltie with a brown and a blue eye, and it did take me a few months to get used to it, since our previous Shelties had brown eyes. While the blue eye seems to have a more intense look to it, I find I tend to look at the blue eye more to “read” him, possibly because I can see his pupil and eye movement better.
My 6 year old poodle will cuddle with me on the sofa, put his head on my chest etc. But there is a sort of game he plays which I do not really know how to interpret. He looks at me. I turn to look at him. He turns his head away. This can go on for several times. Any ideas?
Charlotte Kasner says
… and then there’s the look of total contempt (Sibes are experts at this one) usually following me doing something particularly klutzy such as treeing the ball or throwing it straight in the drink or when it sails off in the opposite direction to which dog and human thought it was going.
I am working with an adolescent Labradoodle who frequently pauses mid-training to give sustained eye contact. It is a steady gaze and doesn’t seem puzzled. He just seems to get a great deal of pleasure out of sustained eye contact. He was initially very insecure about moving behind me as he did not like losing sight of my face whilst training.
Anyone else experienced this?
One of my dogs (husky/lab) has different colored eyes and we joke that she uses her “magic eyes” as a tactic to use an array of hypnotic stares and sideways glances to get us to comply to her wishes. 🙂 I have a cattledog mix that can lovingly gaze for brief periods but during training and several situations, direct eye contact is just too intense for this sensitive chap so not looking at him directly helps him stay focused and avoids sensory overload. And then there is the bulldog mix… she has big soft round eyes that gaze lovingly and endlessly at anyone and everyone. I’ve tried to out “gaze” her but I have yet to win that. After about 20 seconds I can’t help but to love and kiss on her big cheeked head — talk about an oxytocin boost! Then, there is the rat terrier / chihuahua mix, aka “the master shmoozer”! When she wants something (namely whatever food item one might be enjoying) she stares down her target with fluttering “slow blinks” in the most humble way. It takes many years of practice to resist. 😉
But as for what the husky/lab might say to people that react to her sporting one ice blue and one dark brown eye, she would like to remind people she has TWO eyes. 98% of the time she meets someone new they say “Oh whoa. Your dog has the one eye” to which she (and I say in my head and on occasion out loud) “Actually there are two eyes”… but that being said, I do have to make an effort to look at both of her eyes. The icy blue one is so intense and intoxicating that it draws attention to it but to look at only that eye is to miss half of her amazing repertoire of looks. The blue eye is commanding and the brown eye is a soft loving sweet shot of oxytocin.
Cathy Balliu says
I have a bi-eyed border collie. We say that the brown side is the sane side and the blue side is the crazy side lol. She is a bit of a wild child. I also have a split-faced bc with 2 blue eyes. All my other dogs through the years have had brown eyes (over 30 dogs eek). I find the brown eyes more comfortable to look at while the blue eyes are definitely more striking. I don’t know if it’s just the contrast between the light colored eye and the dark fur on the first dog or what. I wonder if the sheep feel differently about different colored eyes on dogs. I do know that sheep are much more concerned about dogs who’s fur obscures their eyes. That would be an interesting experiment.
Jane Farmer says
At 16 years old, I bought my first horse. Polly was a wonderful horse with one brown eye and one blue eye. At 55, bought what will be my last horse. She has one brown eye and one blue eye. Miss Kitty is a wonderful horse. Two years ago, I was lurking around dog rescue web sites and saw a pup with one brown eye and one blue eye. Truman is tbe best of the best of dogs.
It took 3-1/2 months after adopting our current rescue dog before I felt any kind of bond with him. After ten weeks of intensive training and little to show, we put him on an anti-anxiety medication and four weeks after that, I realized he was finally making eye contact with me. Before that, virtually nothing, just lots of frenzied, non-focused activity. I think the eye contact made a huge difference in my developing an emotional bond with him.
Barb Stanek says
Interesting. Since learning about the oxytocin/eye contact loop, I have raised my awareness about when I gaze into my dogs’s eyes and how they respond.
My 9 year old can be spooky. Even with me, he seems to have a trust issue. I have often wondered if he a problem with his eye sight, but physical evaluations come back normal. He is hesitant to have eye contact with me when I initiate it.
However, he chooses to do some gazing with me at random times and in random places. Most often he chooses a place where he and I are alone and unlikely to be interrupted by other dogs or anything else. He will interrupt my computer work to have a gaze and then lie down next to me until I’m done working. He will also put his face in front of mine when I’m watching TV and gaze. Again, afterward he will lie down beside me and wait until I’m finished watching.
My puppy is an anytime, anywhere gazer. She is naturally more affiliative, slumping against my body for a snuggle and happily gazing into my eyes while her tail keeps time with her heart. I am fascinated by the differences.
It’s slightly disconcerting and (until I get to know the dog) I’m less sure of what I’m ‘reading.’ Off topic (?) and without verifiable evidence, I totally believe in mental telepathy between beings that are receptive to each other.
Your area of Wisconsin is so gorgeous, so often…
Caroline: I know you’re asking Trisha, but may I venture a guess?
He may be staring in an effort to ask you for something. Is there a particular way he likes to be touched? Again, just guessing; he’s turning his head away to try to explain ‘that’s not it.’
I swear this really happened. While getting ready to take my dog outside at the front door, instead of jumping around like she usually does she sat quietly staring at me, when I finally noticed this she continued staring at me, yes we made sustained eye contact for about 10 seconds and then she look quickly to her left and down, then back at me for another brief period, and then down to the left again. My eyes followed hers and she was staring at a pretty large brown spider that had gotten into the house. I really felt the the dog did this intentionally, but thought if I told people they would think I was crazy. I think they are smarter than we know.
Sara Watson,CTC says
I know someone who purposefully taught a strong watch to her puppy. Dog eyes to human eyes. Now he does this to other dogs and it does not end well. Was it a learned behavior or coincidence with genetics? Probably some of both. She probably rewarded it more because he offered it more readily.
never thought about the huge eye thing when it comes to my camera.. My one boy hates it when I take pictures and will not hardly look my direction if the camera is held up to my face.. I get my focus then hold the camera below my face and talk to him. now my girl on the other hand as soon as she saw a camera was all poser..
Sara Lee says
Once upon a time, I used to hang out in the sled dog world …. as a just-for-fun “runner.” Back then, these dogs were called “split eyes.” They could be traced back to not only particular breeders but to named-by-theme litters. Back in the old days, breeders and theme named litters were kept track of by oral tradition (now I’m told it’s all computerized). Split eyes were important tracers for bloodlines.
I love it when my Luna gazes at me, and holds that gaze. Or comes up to me with her favorite ball in her mouth and stares at me. That silent communication is precious. On the flip side, when we’re doing heeling training and she doesn’t look at me for her cues, it can be frustrating for me. When she does, it’s so rewarding and I know she’s enjoying herself.
What breaks my heart is when she hears a loud noise and she totally shuts down. Won’t look at me. Won’t move. She is frozen in a down position and her eyes are wide and scared. I am lost at how to help her through this fear she has. This actually happened at her Fun Steps class tonight. The instructor brought out a wooden wobble board, and the sound of the sides hitting the ground when the dogs stepped on it frightened her — and she shut down. The instructor told me to “snap” her prong collar until she came to my side. I HATED doing that to her. It went against everything my heart told me. She yelped and still wouldn’t move. Her eyes were dark and filled with fear and stress. The instructor told me to keep at it because when she would finally break free of that fear after getting frustrated of the “snaps”, it would mean freedom for her — and would be all worth the pain we were both feeling. Agh……I am at a loss, Patricia. How would you help Luna with this?? 🙁
Cathy Warcup says
My young male Tomas has a blue and a brown eye which at first was difficult but we’ve got used to them. My older girl Maggie never like eye contact as a puppy but now loves eye contact. I’ve found my Australian Shepherds live for eye contact much more than the Borders.
Diane Mattson says
Bridget loves to gaze into my eyes during cuddle sessions. She also gives me determined stares when I’m not following the daily routine or being boring, you know, house work, instead of a walk or game.
Years ago, our neighbour’s boxer cross, would occasionally launch himself up on me to gaze steadily into my eyes for almost a minute. He would be very still while “communing.” Since he was a dignified, slightly aloof dog, I always felt honoured by this trust.
Enjoy the Fall, before the snow hits. Up where I am, we are expecting snow on Friday.
One of my dogs (mix) has a ice blue and brown eye and agree the blue one is intense and ‘colder’ especially if I see her from the side. I took a while to get used to it. She loves gazing at us, but also has the ‘demand stare’ (don’t all dogs have it?) which she can hold for a very long time. Then there is the look: ‘really, you can’t throw the Frisbee better then this?’ and the one while doing training: ‘that’s what you want? Ok got it, let me do it again, PLEASE!
On the other side it took nearly 2 years for Sammy “Mr. I’m Scared of Everything” before he would look in our eyes or could tolerate to be looked at. As long he initiates it, he now loves cuddling up and gazing.
@Laurie: Living with a who is scared and shut’s down I would think counter conditioning and lot’s of work on giving her confidence and working with a trainer who purely uses positive training are the way forward, not pain and trying to get her to snap out of it. Imagine as a human been frozen in fear and punished to snap out of it?
I had a Siberian husky with one blue eye and one brown. So many people asked me if he was blind in the blue eye. I loved the combination. My BC’s both have dark eyes that I do look into daily. I feel such a connection to them when I look into their eyes. A friend has a red/white BC with blue eyes. Gorgeous! I find the blue eyes mesmerizing.
lak, what you are describing is common at least in my world. Our dogs often use their gaze and head movement to point something out to us. Sometimes, I just follow where they are looking and how they are standing to see if I can see what they see. Other times, it is a very deliberate “Hey you, do you see that? Fix it!” It could be a bug (all our dogs have alerted to any kind of insect in the house, hmmm ;0) or something out of place or a tossed treat that is just out of reach. Some of our dogs were super sensitive to their surroundings and would have been champions at the finding what’s slightly different in picture 2 game. Others were, shall we say, focused on something else 🙂
I’ve taught “focus” to our dogs as they were able to learn it comfortably both for the fun and also to get their attention when I needed them to, er, focus. Every once in a while we’ll stare at each other to see who blinks first. I always lose. But it depends on the dog and their personality how or when or even if we do much eye gazing.
Phoebe, unfortunately, has taken to staring at me nonstop when she thinks it’s time for her daily afternoon chew. Nothing I try diverts her stare for longer than a second. Teaching an incompatible behavior doesn’t work, staring back doesn’t work, telling her to go settle doesn’t work. The only thing I can do is tell her to go out and lie down in a different room. I wish it didn’t bug me so much, but it does! Any suggestions?
This is such a great topic! I’ve been thinking a lot lately about eye contact in the canine world, because I just moved and my new neighbor’s dog is blind. My dog has only seen her from a distance, but he seemed immediately alarmed that she wasn’t looking at him (or looking away?) in the usual way that dogs do, and I’m wondering how dogs usually negotiate blindness? And if you have any thoughts about introducing a blind dog to a dog who can see?
As for eye contact between me and my dog, he is constantly seeking out eye contact. He seems very reassured by prolonged eye contact with me. He makes eye contact to check in with me when he hears a strange sound, or when we are walking and he is unsure about something. But the one that really takes the cake is when he grabs a pillow off the couch and throws it on the floor, and then stands there waiting for me to notice and look him in the eye… He has definitely mastered the art of laughing with his eyes!
LisaW, my dog does a similar thing where he “points” at the treats on top of the fridge, then looks meaningfully at me, then back at the treats. I have found that the only thing that works is to say out loud “oh you want a treat?” then look pointedly at the treats, then back at him and say “Not right now. That’s enough” and then turn my attention elsewhere. That’s usually enough to get him to give up and go lie down. I find I have to acknowledge what he wants or else he’ll just keep trying as if I’m too dumb to understand his canine communication skills!
At puppy class, I was taught to have my dog look at my face/eyes with the command “watch” while bringing a treat up to my face. I did this multiple repetitions daily. Now I can ask for a “watch” and my dog will look to my eyes. It instantly focuses her and we both connect.
Now we do it lots just to enjoy, she totally gets it. So fun. Although she is also very selective when she is distracted or disinterested…some things never change.
All three of my dogs make eye contact with me when they want something. One has very pale blue eyes… his intense stare can be somewhat disconcerting. My girl will make eye contact, then run halfway to the door and then back for another urgent look. The best is my giant boy who is so anxious for our morning walk that he stares, whines, goes and noses his leash, the back to holding my eyes. I’m sure he thinks that the reason we go for a walk every morning is only because he so relentlessly begs.
I teach agility classes and when teaching outdoors, I tell people not to run in sunglasses. And not to run in them at trials. It interferes with their communication with their dog.
Fantastic point! Dogs can’t see the direction of your eyes, an important cue about where to go next for sure.
happy autumn! paco and i both go dormant in the summer and come out of hibernation in the fall and winter! :o)
since day one, paco has watched me like a hawk, and makes eye contact all the time. his light brown eyes are very expressive, and after 9 years, i think i can read his eyes (and body language) very well. at first it was a little intense and nerve-wracking, as i thought he needed something from me, but now i think it is just his way of staying in touch with me…even on hikes, he will always look back at me and make eye contact to check in before trotting a bit ahead of me. i remember our vet in brooklyn commenting on how much eye contact paco made with me during our routine visits–that it was “unusual,” but i think it was just reassurance paco needed from me there! did i mention he has some border collie in him? and i think we both get comfort and oxytocin from making eye contact with each other. i am convinced he reads my eyes as much as i read his. <3
Chris from Boise says
I agree with Katja, Our Rowan is like your Luna in sound sensitivity, so I feel for both of you. If I were in your place, I’d immediately look for another trainer – one who knows how to use encouragement and positive behavioral modification techniques rather than force to help Luna out of her predicament. If your gut is saying “no, no, no! to a training technique, your gut is probably correct.
If there are no good positive reinforcement trainers in your area, you might look online. One excellent online school (if it’s OK to put in a plug, Trisha?) is the Fenzi Dog Sports Academy (which offers far more than dog sport classes). I’ve taken several classes through them, including ones on sound sensitivity and empowerment for sensitive dogs.
I love looking at my dogs eyes. And they don’t have to be looking at me. I love looking at the reactions in them as they go about their day. I have one who sits on the couch and watches TV from time to time. I don’t want to digress too much, but one of my Bostons is battling glaucoma in both eyes and we found out early this year that the pressure in his left eye was no longer being controlled by medications and eventually would have to be removed. We haven’t gotten to that point yet…something that my veterinary ophthalmologist can’t explain, but we’re running with it and as long as he has sight in the eye and isn’t in pain we’re medicating and hoping for as much time as we can get. My point about this, is that when I found out he was going to lose his eye I cried…it almost felt like we were losing a primary part of who he is. My Mom wisely stated “he’ll still be with us”, which of course he will be even if he loses both of his eyes, that is not a deal breaker for us. But I still feel as if by losing his eye I’m experiencing a loss, a loss of who Eli is. And of course this is my Boston who hunts bugs out of the air and is the one who “watches” TV. On a slightly off topic note I watched a DVD last night titled “Buddy” by Heddy Honigmann. It’s a Dutch film (it has subtitles) about the relationship of a group of service dogs with their owners. I highly recommend watching it, I don’t know what the training is for service dogs there, but to watch the behaviors of these dogs with their owners…and how they adjust their behavior based on where they are i.e. in the home vs. out in public was fascinating.
I have partnered Border Collies with heterochromia (brown and blue eyes, brown and green eyes). Also, one of my Border Collies, Rose, has strange looking eyes due to complications secondary to IMR/SARDS combined with nuclear sclerosis that started at age 5 (commonly appears around age 10 in dogs) and her third eyelids are quite prominent (idiopathic). She’s creeped out the occasional person in public.
I used to raise and race Siberian Huskies and most of my Sibes had china blue eyes. Many people were clearly uncomfortable to come near my blue-eyed dogs and had absolutely no reservations about walking up and petting the brown-eyed ones. Once in the show ring (conformation) I had a judge ask me to show him my dog’s teeth. My boy was calm and confidently standing for examination. That judge had taken the liberty of looking at the teeth of every other dog in the ring; and mine was the only one with blue eyes.
I presently have a brown-eyed Border Collie that will, of his own choice, make and hold eye contact with me. This is not a behaviour that I taught or encouraged, rather it is something that has evolved in our relationship. With other people he has the typical canine reaction to direct eye contact. He is my constant companion and people have told me “he never takes his eyes off you”.
I hadn’t really thought about it until I was reading your post. I’ll have to think more on this. Thanks for a thought-provoking read!
Geo Wilcox says
Our Greater Swiss Mountain Dog has one dark brown eye ans one ice blue eye. She is also deaf, born that way. I love her eyes, she is so unique and the smartest dog we’ve ever had.
JOAN L LINDBERG says
I have regular contact with my two collies’ eyes. I’ve always gazed into my foster dogs’ eyes as well. My “eye story” is about Reilly, a particularly challenging foster who was moved to another foster home (reluctantly as I lapsed my rescue group membership for one year) Reilly HATED shorter men with dark hair and had a couple run-ins while in subsequent foster homes. He was adopted by a couple who were also founding members (as was I). I went to a “collie frolic” near Scandia MN one year and brought four collies with me and parked the car in an area near the fenced runs for the collies. I was pre-occupied with getting the dogs out and safely into the paddock area. As usual, I was talking to them constantly the entire time. By the time I went back for collies number 3 and 4, I felt someone’s eyes on me. You know, the sensation that you are being watched. I turned and saw a gorgeous collie staring at me from his spot inside the paddock by the fence. It was Reilly! He remembered my voice and, when I got my dogs safely into the paddock, I went right over to talk with Reilly. That was over 15 years ago and all those collies are gone now. But, I will NEVER forget the moment and how well Reilly turned out as a faithful, loving, smart collie boy.
@Jenny: my heart dog had to have both of her eyes removed because pressure and pain couldn’t be controlled anymore, at that point she already was totally blind. The first time the bandage was removed I broke down, it was one of the hardest moments in my life. But I got used to it surprisingly quickly. She still would ‘gaze’ at me and was really good in actually ‘looking’ into my face. So while it is hard you’ll find other ways to communicate and to gaze into his soul.
I have Australian Shepherds and it’s very common in the breed, so I have in the past had dogs with all sorts of colors and speckled eyes with different colors in the same eye. It doesn’t bother me at all, I like variety. I love the blue eyes. Also, my grandfather had one blue eye and one brown.
I don’t spend long periods of time gazing into my dogs’ eyes. I think it makes them uncomfortable. We do have frequent eye contact, and exchange many messages together this way, but it’s not prolonged.
Jenny Haskins says
I find it depends on the dog. I believe that the flatter the face the more likely they are to ‘look into your eyes’.
What I do know is that my dogs in general have all hated other dogs ‘looking at them”.
I never teach’ look at my face’ for attention from my dogs — it is unnatural for them. We do look into each other’s eyes when we are smooching, though.
Jenny Haskins says
PS I suspect, too, that this is why dogs tend to hate people who are afraid of them. When people are afraid of dogs they tend to stare into the dog’s eyes.
Mary Ellen Hagenauer says
Tricia, I love the prairie photos that you included in this post. Would it be okay with you if I used them as photo references for a painting?
I would be honored! You made my day.
@Katja thank you for your kind words and encouragement:)
Carol Bolduc says
I have blue merle Aussie, and he has two split eyes – one about 1/3 blue, and the other just over 1/2 blue. While I love it and makes him totally unique – a lot of people find it disconcerting, others mystical and beautiful. For those it is disconcerting, it doesn’t help that he is a very high guy with a “What’s next?” and ever ready approach to life! As for eye contact, my recent dogs are herders (a BC mix and now 2 Aussies) and I find eye contact is SO much different with them – it is hypersensitive – like putting power steering on a tractor. Too much eye contact with them is pressure, and if my eye contact is one something else, then they are intense about that something else! I have had to learn to moderate my eye contact for them to moderate.