• ... 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 (NOTE: previous years of blog entries have been archived.)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.

ay chihuahua! ~ {Kitchener dog photographer}

meet Bruiser …


just had to share a few images from a shoot the other evening of an extra sweet boy.  oh yeah, he looks innocent enough, doesn’t he?  just an absolutely, sweet, delicate chihuahua boy all tucked up in a lovely little nest of grass … soaking up the last rays of afternoon sun.  what a lovely, demure, little dog … or not!


am i the only one thinking of that crazy squirrel from Ice Age?



i had a blast with this whacky, wild boy who was often struck with zany bursts of the zoomies as he tore up the field.


of course, running was the only thing Bruiser had on his mind.  posing’s for sissy’s!


places to go. things to sniff.


thanks for a fun time, Sarah, Jeff and Bruiser.  see you soon at your studio consult.  i hope you enjoy Brusier’s gallery!


Sarah - Thanks everyone for the comments! Bruiser just LOVED Illona and wanted to show off for her 🙂 She’s a fabulous photographer and would love to do another shoot with her!! Thanks Illona!

Idil - What an absolute sweetheart! So full of life! Love the action shots – Bruiser’s exuberance is infectious.

Anda - Haha, yup, that’s him, the Ice Age squirrel 🙂 Awesome energy and enthusiasm, you captured him perfectly! What a great happy set!

alexa - He totally reminds me of Scrat from Ice Age! Lol! Those eyes are awesome! Love all the action shots.

Sherry in MT - GREAT shots! I love the actions shots especially of the little guys (which are near and dear to MY heart). Thanks for the smiles (the chi’s and mine)!

Frank Eaton - Cute as a button! Sammy does the same thing, running around making turns like a quarter horse! Great sneak peaks! Thnx, Illona!

Liz - OMG he TOTALLY looks like the squirrel from Ice Age!! hahaha. these are great! love the first one the best.

Holly Garner-Jackson - What a character! We call it getting “Happy Feet!”
You must have been laughing quite a bit during this shoot!
Great shots!!! I love #’s 2&4. And yes their is a definite resemblance to that wild squirrel from Ice Age!
Well done, illona!

Samantha - He is totally Scrat from Ice Age. I love it. LOVE IT! You need to shoot this little guy again with an oversized toy acorn. What a lovely coat on him as he runs!

Marcia Aguiar - The 4th one is my favorite! Love the squinty eyes and his lovely smile. This guy knows how to enjoy outdoors. And, yes, he IS the Ice Age crazy squirrel. :>)

Lisa Brencis - I like the 4th one, where he’s smiling!

Margaret - Who would think a chihuahua would be so very cool?!?! And you’re right about the Ice Age squirrel. 🙂 Bruiser is one action-packed guy!

Jennifer - What a cute little dog, and that fifth one down is truly hysterical!! What a nut!

bublynski - He may be little, but what a big personality and presence!!! The fifth one is my favorite, but all of these are great – what fun!

Lori - i love it when they get the zoomies!!! and you got great shots of high-speed pup (and those couple when he was forced to stop for a breath)
what a cutie 🙂

just a little privacy, please? ~ {daily life Ontario dog photographer}

anyone who knows me knows that there are three things which are rarely far from my side (and certainly never from my heart) … my two dogs and my camera.

and as such, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that i have company just about anywhere i go … no pun intended.  merrick — a.k.a. mr. what-are-you-doing-now?-are-you-gonna-throw-my-ball?-are-there-treats? — follows me relentlessly, and when i’m … er … otherwise disposed, he never fails to take full advantage.


needless to say, in this household, there is no privacy.


then again, they have to squat and poop while i hover over them impatiently with my hand thrust in a biodegradable bag as the whole world watches.  privacy schmivacy!


Sylvia - In my house, we call them potty pets and it’s the cat who demands them every morning in exchange for allowing us to feed her breakfast.

Susan Humphreys - This is so funny! I still cannot believe the difference in this little dog
from when you first brought him home. Miraculous.

amy b - Heh
Our dogs follow me into the bathroom, also. First it’s curiosity, then they figure out they have a captive audience. When they are feeling especially bondy, they will just come in and lay down on the floor to wait even though it’s only a couple of minutes. Sometimes I think they just like the excitement of going through doors. They seem to recognize the process of going from one place to another and it’s more fun with company.

ursula sooley - OMG Ilona, so funny. That is exactly how it is. I call Maggie my velcro dog. Follows me everywhere, she jumped in the tub once as I was having a bath!! Now she must wait in the hall.
Fabulous post!

JD - Where’s Matea? Hovering in the doorway?

Liz - Mine totally do that too 🙂 We have to leave the door to the bathroom open or they get upset that they can’t come in and check on us. haha

Holly Garner-Jackson - Getting to know you! Getting to know all about you!!!
Yup! turn about is fair play! I can just hear Merrick saying “Good girl! Good girl illona! Now wash your hands! Good girl!”

Kelly (Neptune) - Oh geez, he is just sinfully adorable!

kristina - he is just way to cute lol

Machonza - My dogs used to come and put their heads between my knees while I was on the toilet pan. I’d rub their ears, and everyone was happy. Sweet memories.

Jenn - Too FUNNY… I know exactly what your talking about:) Love those pups!!!

Margaret - Look how much he loves you! That face just glows with knowing how much you adore him, too. He’s finally got the home he should’ve had all along. 🙂

Lisa Brencis - LOL! Love it!

this is why … ~ {Toronto dog photographer}

i’m often asked why it is i do what i do, especially after a pretty successful, twenty-year career as a novelist.  i guess there are a number of reasons, the bulk of which i won’t bore you with … but the main reason for scruffy dog photography, the purpose behind it, the passion and the mission, is dogs like Bridie …


it was touch and go whether i’d even get to meet sweet Bridie, a Cushings dog currently in renal failure.  her shoot was postponed while she was in hospital, and even once she was released i wasn’t quite sure what to expect.  i should never have doubted a terrier heart.  Bridie was a trooper throughout our extremely long shoot yesterday and last night.  with special shoots like this, i never take any chances, and since the mission of scruffy dog has always been to capture as many unique image in a variety of locations, especially with the special cases, when i know it is highly unlikely i will ever have the opportunity again, i go all out.

you will be seeing many more images from Bridie’s shoot, but she and owners Harriet and Tom have been on my mind during this difficult time (before and after the shoot) … so I wanted to share at least a couple of images for now.


you are in my hearts.  be strong for your little girl, as she is strong for you.


Harriet - Tom and I wanted to say thank you so much to all of you who posted comments in response to Illona’s amazing shots of our Bridie. Your words have been a huge comfort. Illona was so sensitive to Bridie and her needs – Bridie really responded to Illona. Just to let you all know Bridie is holding her own and we are enjoying every moment possible with her. We are incredibly grateful to Illona for capturing our sweet and feisty girl in photos.


Jerry Welch - Nice Photos!!

Sherry in MT - Yes to be sure, doG bless those strong little terriers! It brings tears to my eyes that she may not be with her owners long but I am thrilled they took the time to have the photos done by you. You have a special eye for your shots and these will be very near and dear to their hearts I am sure.

Mirjam Visser - Beautiful photos.
I lost my dog Spock through Cushing’s. I wish Birdie and her humans well.

Jean (allegrolhw) - Both images are so captivating. Looking forward to more of Birdie and thinking of her and her folks.

Liz - Beautiful images. Can’t wait for more.

Holly Garner-Jackson - So much love is portrayed here illona. You have captured so much emotion and power in these two shots I can’t wait to see the rest of them.
All my best to Harriet and Tom. A dog like Bridie can only bring joy and love to a family. I love the terrier heart, may it beat in your memories forever……

wendy - Oh… That second photo is so touching. I love the look “mom” is giving her. You really captured the love.

Linda - Wonderful shots! These will be memories captured and cherished forever.Heartfelt thoughts for all.

Susan Humphreys - These photos of Bridie are beautiful Illona. Terriers are the best aren’t they? I love the shot on the bench. So poignant. You do suffer for your art, rolling around in goose poop!!!Much love to Bridie and her guardians.

Stephanie - What you are doing for these folks is a precious gift……….If Only I had had this opportunity with my dear Maya…..

ursula sooley - Love Love Love the first shot. Such a beautiful little critter. My heart goes out to her guardians.

Vicki - I really love the photo of her on the bench, beautiful. Sending along my best wishes to Birdie 🙂

Vicky (tv writer) - I’m so glad you were there to capture this outing..and that she rebounded with enough energy for the shoot.
Sweet sweet dog.. I love that top one, and how your really low perspective makes her look like the queen she no doubt is!
Big dog slobbery kisses from my two boys to her humans Harriet and Tom.

kristina - i’m not a fan of those terrierist lol but what a sweetie good vibes for her owners

Margaret - Poor Bridie – the Cushings and the renal failure. 🙁 But having just spent a couple days with my aunt and uncle, and their Cairn Terrier, my thoughts and understanding of the terrier heart are rejuvenated. Theirs (Lucy) is 11 and doesn’t show any signs of aging, except a few gray hairs on her chin, and a slightly more calm demeanor than when she was a youngster. Otherwise, she’s as spunky and filled with Terrier-ness as ever! GREAT little dog!!! I hope Bridie and her people enjoy every minute they have together (as I suspect they will)!!!

bublynski - I love what you said about a terrier heart. Bridie’s got it, that’s for sure! My heart goes out to Harriet and Tom… I know what they’re going through.

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