Have You Had Your Hug Today?

    These Hugging Border Collies Charm the Internet

    Photograph of three border collies laying together - black, brown & white, white fur

    Photography by Kelly BovePhotography by Kelly Bove»

    If you’re a lover of all things dog and have access to social media, you’ve probably come across the Hugging Border Collies—now a world-famous photograph of two adorable Border Collies in a heart-melting embrace, captured elegantly by their professional photographer mom Kelly Bove. With their many impressive tricks and cute antics, Envy and Zain stole the hearts of millions of people online, and have since become a powerful voice for rescue dogs all over the country. Their Instagram account (@Kelly_Bove), which features not only Envy and Zain but also their brother Trek, has 454,000 followers! Bored Panda, a widely known international website, is just one of many popular sites celebrating the captivating canines. Hailing from three very different backgrounds, these formerly homeless pups prove that rescue dogs are just as awesome as any dog you could ever buy.

    Kelly Bove has always had a passion for dogs, from training and photographing them to helping them find homes. “Dogs have always been a big part of my life—I can’t remember a time growing up when we didn’t have at least one or two. My passion for training actually developed when a close friend got a Border Collie puppy. Each time I visited, I’d spend time training with her, and it was so rewarding, I knew when I got a dog of my own, it would be a Border Collie.” But purchasing a border collie was never an option for Kelly. “Growing up, our dogs came from breeders or pet shops. But I knew when it was time to get my own dog, I wanted to rescue.”

    Photography by Kelly BovePhotography by Kelly Bove»

    With approximately 76 million dogs in the United States, an average 6 million a year enter animal shelters and rescues but, of these, only 1.6 million are adopted. Fortunately, there are devoted volunteers who contribute to the work of shelters and rescues by opening their homes to foster dogs. Fostering help save lives, by getting dogs out of the shelter where they may languish for far too long or even face euthanasia, in some cases.

    This is precisely what Kelly Bove did when she moved from the dorms into a house off campus during her college years. “I fostered dogs for a local rescue group while finishing college. I fostered a Labrador mix named Brady, who was ultimately adopted by one of my roommate’s close friends, and a Border Collie mix named Rowen. I really wanted to adopt a dog, specifically a Border Collie … but I wasn’t sure it was the right time. And so I chose to set some rather unrealistic expectations for the dog I would adopt—I think I was hoping that looking for a very specific dog would keep me from finding it and therefore adopting it. I decided I wanted a black and white Border Collie with a white face and at least one blue eye. I was very specific! But fast forward just a few weeks later, and I heard about a dog fitting that exact description down in Tennessee who needed a home. I couldn’t argue with kismet, so I drove 13 hours from Pennsylvania to Tennessee, with my roommate along for moral support. I figured even if the dog didn’t work out for me, I would foster her and find her a great home. Needless to say, once I picked up Envy, who absolutely matched my vision perfectly, she never left— her great home was with me!”Photography by Kelly BovePhotography by Kelly Bove»

    In 2014, Kelly, who by then was married, gave Envy a doggy sibling by the name of Zain. “My husband and I had just bought our first home. Envy had always been around other dogs, and moving into our own house meant she would be spending a lot of time alone while we were both at work. We decided to foster a young Border Collie from a rescue in New York with the intention of adopting him if things worked out. His first day home, we noticed Zain was very grabby (being a herding breed, it wasn’t unusual), but Envy helped set some boundaries and teach him what was acceptable behavior and what wasn’t. A few days in, Zain ate my husband’s $300 textbook …. oops! I really didn’t think he was going to be able to stay with us, but after a few weeks, he’d learned a lot and adapted well, and it was clear that he wasn’t going anywhere. Envy and Zain became close friends—sleeping together, playing together—they really hit it off.”

    Envy Photography by Kelly Bove
    Envy Photography by Kelly Bove»

    It was around this time that Kelly got serious about learning to use her professional camera and started taking lots of shots of her photogenic dogs. As she became more adept at capturing the essence of these natural-born entertainers, she started posting the photos to her Instagram account. The response was overwhelmingly positive, and she ultimately surrendered her account to the dogs, making it their official Instagram account. The number of followers grew into the thousands, with people from all around the world responding with messages of happiness, support and gratitude for the bond these two fetching border collies shared.

    Often, the iconic images she posts require training and preparation on Kelly’s part. Is it difficult? “No, I wouldn’t say difficult,” she replies. “But it’s very interesting to see how they all learn differently. I may teach one of them a trick one way and another a completely different way. They always keep me on my toes, that’s for sure! I do love training, though, and I’m always learning.” There is a saying that every dog that comes into your life does so with a purpose. Even with the differences between Envy and Zain, Kelly believes the two had a similar, valuable lesson to teach. “Envy and Zain taught me the patience required when bringing a new dog into your home. They take time to settle in and get comfortable before they really show their true selves. If I hadn’t given them that time and had made quick decisions based on a single day or two, I’m not sure they would still be here. Dogs take time to feel comfortable and safe in their new homes—and we owe it to them to allow them that!”

    Zain Photography by Kelly Bove
    Zain Photography by Kelly Bove»


    “Just because you see a dog you love online doesn’t mean they will be the best fit for your home. Research breeds and know what you’re getting into to make sure you’re able to provide an appropriate home.”


    In 2016, Envy and Zain excitedly went from being a Border Collie duo to a Border Collie trio, with the addition of new puppy Trek. “Trek was adopted at 8 weeks old from the same rescue as Zain. I reached out to them early November 2016, asking them to keep us in mind if they happened to have any puppies come into rescue. About a week later, I got an email saying they had a litter of puppies being born. The mom had been surrendered, and they didn’t even know she was pregnant until just a couple days before she gave birth. I was so fortunate to be able to visit and interact with the puppies at both 3-1/2 and 7 weeks, before ultimately bringing Trek home at 8 weeks old.”

    Trek Photography by Kelly Bove
    Trek Photography by Kelly Bove»

    Kelly says, “Trek has taught me a new level of patience in training. He is so, so smart. And he’ll give everything 110% effort … but sometimes we need to take a step back and look at things from a different perspective. He’s the most impulsive of the three and usually the reason I need to take more than one photo to get ‘the perfect shot.’ But he keeps us laughing with his antics, and I wouldn’t change that about him.”

    Trek’s addition to the pack only made the Instagram photos even more charming and irresistible. When Trek was little, many followers wanted to know if Trek was Envy and Zain’s puppy. “We still occasionally get that question,” Kelly says, “but it’s slowed down now that he’s no longer a little puppy. We’re also asked how long it took to train them and what kind of food we feed them, when people comment on their shiny coats!”

    Photography by Kelly BovePhotography by Kelly Bove»

    Each with their own delightful personality, the dogs are clearly distinct individuals. “Envy is definitely the queen bee in the house—-the boys know she’s the boss! Zain is totally a “people” dog. He will play with the other two from time to time, but really, he would rather be smothered with attention from just about any person he meets. He lives to please and will literally do anything you want, no questions asked,” Kelly explains. “Envy, on the other hand, always wants to know ‘what’s in it for me?’ Trek is exactly how he’s portrayed on our Instagram. He’s a comical, excitable dog who does everything with extraordinary commitment … including sleeping. That is one thing I’m unable to demonstrate, outside of the occasional story on Instagram. As hard as he plays, he sleeps even harder and is the absolute best cuddler!”

    Kelly’s creative eye for photography— paired with Envy, Zain, and Trek’s obedience— made for the perfect combination to garner a quarter of a million fans on Instagram. And that gave them a powerful platform for spreading the word about dog adoption and rescue organizations. Working with a slew of different brands, interviewed on ABC News in Los Angeles, and appearing in a Google commercial, these pups are becoming influential ambassadors for rescue and adoption. Kelly loves supporting rescue efforts by offering popular “merch,” such as an Envy and Zain calendar, the proceeds of which are donated to New York’s Glen Highland Farm Border Collie Rescue and Sanctuary, as well as to organizations that transport homeless dogs to rescues.

    Photography by Kelly BovePhotography by Kelly Bove»

    For those looking to bring home a new family member from a local shelter or rescue, Kelly has this advice: “Take your time, do your research, and be patient. There are so many great dogs out there, but that doesn’t mean you’ll find the perfect dog tomorrow. Also, just because you see a dog you love online doesn’t mean they will be the best fit for your home. Research breeds and know what you’re getting into to make sure you’re able to provide an appropriate home.”

    Check out Envy, Zain and Trek on Instagram @kelly_bove, or drop them a line to say hello at kellybovephoto@gmail.comPhotography by Kelly Bove
    Photography by Kelly Bove»

    Photography by Kelly Bove
    Photography by Kelly Bove»