• ... home of Ontario's premier pet photographer. This is where the photos of scruffy dog photography meet the heart and soul behind all of those fun and wacky photo shoots and the long hours in the digital darkroom ... a behind-the scenes peek into the zany life of a pet-exclusive photographer and her two ... now THREE trusty sidekicks. For more details on illona and the mcscruffies and the newest mcruffles cat, check out the "about" section.

    What you will find here is the past several years of blog entries -- selected client shoots, sneak peeks, facebook recaps, news and announcements, promos and specials, as well as info on canine health and general dog chat. (NOTE: previous years of blog entries have been archived.)

    So, grab a cup of jo, give your scruffnut a beef tendon to gnaw on, and enjoy the photos and ramblin's.

Basil ~ DOGS WE’VE LOVED ~ Cambridge pet photographer

Meet Basil … another entry in the special Dogs We’ve Loved series — a series that pays tribute to those dogs whom we’ve loved in life and continue to love beyond, who live on in our memories, in our hearts, our souls, and through the very important photos we create of them.

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Basil was the sweet, quiet older sister to Sprocket and was 12 years of age when we shot their scruffy session.  At the time, we all believed that this was Basil’s Honor Session™ … little did we know that it was Sprocket who would be so suddenly and sadly lost three weeks after our session.

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Basil went on almost another three years, passing at the age of almost 15.   In the words of her guardian Jayne: “Basil died peacefully and beautifully at home from what we believe was a brain tumor. Our friend who is a vet, came to the house and we fed her cheese in the sun while she passed away on her bed, surrounded by people she loved. We should all be so lucky…”

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Shot almost five years ago, and I can still remember details of that beautiful November afternoon and the wonderful company I was in with Jayne and David and Basil and Sprocket … watching these two scruffies enjoy their usual hiking trail and then the park … laughing as Basil found her giddy-up …
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… and posing like a princes.

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As Jayne writes:

“Our session continues to be a wonderful memory for David and I. We have large portraits of both dogs that still hang in our living room and I look at them often and smile. It was difficult (as you may remember) picking out the pictures of Sprocket as he died shortly before, but I am so glad we have these wonderful memories.  We were honoured to have both of these wonderful dogs in our lives…even for a short time.”

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Thank you, Jayne and David, for sharing these two beautiful souls with me, for letting them touch my heart even if only for a brief moment in their lives, for trusting me to capture these important images for you.  It has been such an honour to play this very small part in the amazing relationship you shared with Sprocket and Basil.

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Caroline Conley - Beautiful pic if beautiful lives touched …. Sprocket and Basil RIP.
Thank you for sharing

Sprocket ~ DOGS WE’VE LOVED ~ Cambridge pet photographer

This large shaggy muppet is Sprocket … another entry in the special Dogs We’ve Loved series — a series that pays tribute to those dogs whom we’ve loved in life and continue to love today, who live on in our memories, in our hearts, our souls, and through the very important photos we create of them.

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Sprocket’s session was actually an Honor Session™ … it just was not actually intended for him.  The Honor Session™ was booked for older sister Basil.  During their session Sprocket was so full of life and energy … seemingly in his prime at only nine years of age, and running circles around his sister.
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As such, I was utterly shocked when I received guardian-Jayne’s phone call only three weeks after our session from the vet college moments after they had to make the difficult decision to let Sprocket go.  The sudden discovery of a splenic tumor which ruptured had landed him in the OVC’s emergency, and there was no saving the vibrant, otherwise strong, brave boy.

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Jayne and I cried together over the phone … both of us in disbelief and shock.

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In regards to their session, Jayne states:

“Our session continues to be a wonderful memory for David and I. We have large portraits of both dogs that still hang in our living room and I look at them often and smile. It was difficult picking out the pictures of Sprocket as his passing was so sudden, but I am so glad we have these wonderful memories. I also have the slideshow you made as a tribute to Sprocket and I look at it every once in awhile and smile.”

Here is Sprocket’s tribute video…

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I will never forget this fabulous animal and his utterly charming energy.

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As Jayne writes: “I believe in kismet. I think it was very fitting that one of the last images you took that day was one of Sprocket, taken from behind, as he was going over a bridge…..was that foreshadowing?”

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Dog-speed, Sprocket.  I know wherever you are, you are having a blast and still running circles around Basil … but I feel confident that your spirit continues to reside in the hearts of Jayne and David.

  

Laurie Arnold - Sprocket reminds me so much of my Vern. My heart goes out to this family!!

Emma ~ DOGS WE’VE LOVED ~ Guelph pet photographer

Meet Emma … a.k.a. Emmie, E-dog, Emma Bear … another entry n the special Dogs We’ve Loved series — a series that pays tribute to those dogs whom we’ve loved in life and continue to love beyond, who live on in our memories, in our hearts, our souls, and through the very important photos we create of them.  This stubborn, princess diva was the heart and soul of Dr. Renee Fleming of the Guelph Animal Hospital.

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Emma was 12 yrs old at the time of her scruffy Honor Session™ in February 2013.  Renee had been managing Emma’s chronic arthritis for years, but that winter was particularly frigid and icy, making it exceedingly difficult for Emma to get around.  Renee writes:

“I remember looking at her laying near the fireplace and thinking that I wouldn’t always have her beside me, and that prompted me to call Illona – I wanted to have her photographed so I would always remember what a beautiful spirit she was.”

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Like every Honor Session™, Emma’s was completely memorable.  Renee and Emma and I piled into the scruffy dog mobile, along with my equipment and the SDP settee; in fact, I had only just purchased the antique settee after a three-year search for the piece, and Emma was the first scruffy to use it.  First, though, we started by exploring the forest, complete with a costume change part way through so that Emma could show off her very pretty faux-fur shawl.

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Emma was such a trooper.  But so was Renee!  I’m not sure how much this stout little girl weighed, but when we weren’t taking photos, Renee carried her girl down the trail so that Emma wouldn’t tire herself and her old joints out.

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As is typical of photographing older dogs, it is such an amazing honour to witness the deep bond between dog and guardian … and that certainly held true with Emma and Renee.

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Renee writes of her memories of the session:

“I’m so thankful that Illona was able to squeeze us in.  I was hoping to photograph Emma in the fall but I knew I couldn’t wait, even though she lived 5 months past her session.  I remember carrying her through the trees so that she wouldn’t hurt herself, and I also remember helping Illona drag her red chaise out into the snow and the back alley, and miss Princess Emma jumping up onto it like it was made for her!”

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Emma passed five months after her scruffy session.

“Emma was 12.5 years old.  I have photos of her that day.  She had been playing with a doggie friend the day before, and she seemed particularly sore that evening.  I gave her some extra pain medicine and a massage.  When I woke up in the morning she couldn’t get off the bed, nor could she walk very far without needing to sit down.  She needed help to go pee — and something about the way she looked at me that day made me realize that she was ready to say goodbye; even if I wasn’t.  It was a beautiful day — August 11 — and the weather was perfect.  My husband and I patted her and held her and let her eat as many timbits as she wanted.  I was able to say goodbye in our backyard and John and I held her paws and patted her until she was gone.  It was as beautiful as she deserved.”

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As for Emma’s photos and the artwork that Renee has…

“I am writing this as I’m sitting in my office, and the one large framed canvas of Emma hangs above my desk.  I also have large canvas at home and it is the highlight of our dining room .  I look at her often and the expression on her face is classic Emma – I can tell she’s looking at me off camera because I’m holding liver treats, but she’s patiently allowing Illona to photograph her because she’s been told to stay.  She knew she was spoiled and was old enough that she knew she could pretty much do what she wanted.  🙂  I love that I have albums and canvases to remind me what she looked like and all of the beautiful expressions she had. 🙂 

I will always have my dogs photographed as they are such an integral part of our family and lives.”

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If you’d like to see more images of Emma, you can check out her previous blog entry.

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Emma, I know you are pain-free now … and your spirit will forever be in Renee’s heart and with your family.  Dog speed, Emma.

 

  
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