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 (NOTE: previous years of blog entries have been archived.)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

lazy oakley ~ {Ontario dog photographer}

meet Oakley …


he’s a lazy, King Charles Cavalier spaniel … or so i was told.  i was also told that he wouldn’t run, and often needed to be prodded just to keep up on walks.  and sure, there were many times during our 3+ hour shoot when the O-man refused to do anything but lie down.  still, at scruffy dog, we have ways to motivate …


with family here in the K-W area, Oakley’s mom and dad decided to come here for their shoot, so i took them to one of my favorite shooting spots where we could take advantage of a variety of scenery.





the story behind Oakley is that he almost caused a divorce.  Cheryl wanted a dog, but Mike didn’t … one of those it’s-me-or-the-dog scenarios.  but guess whose dog Oakley ended up being?


we had a great afternoon … in the woods …


… by the water …



… and more running, in spite of the mosquitoes which you can actually see in the photo below, flying out of speedy Oakely’s way.


Oakley was a great subject …


… even though he lay down on the job a lot.



and i was so pleased to discover that my favorite purple flowers are now in full bloom, and should be for the rest of the summer.  they’re my absolute favorite as a backdrop so you’ll likely be seeing quite a lot of them over the summer in the blog.


we shot into the early evening when the light is the most spectacular … although Oakley would never have noticed in between his cat naps.


thanks, Chery and Mike and family, and thanks Oakley, for a fun afternoon.  i hope you enjoy your gallery of images, and i look forward to seeing you at your studio consult.



Jane - Love your photos. Really want my Cav to have a Scruffy Dog session!! Shame about the distance

Sydney - Such a cute dog! What a wonderful bunch of photographs, though my favorite is the last one. I absolutly love this shot and wish I had a similar one of me and Cody, the angel, the comp, everything is stunning and heartwarming. I also really love the low POV forest path shot, it is stunning. You always give such a wide variety of shots, it is beautiful to see.

Holly Garner-Jackson - When a dog can make you smile it’s a good thing. thanks for a great start to my day illona! These are great!……as usual 😉
BTW, FYI those flowers are Crown Vetch.

Idil - Love love love the second photo with the ears flying, but they are all fantastic photos! Looks like it was a beautiful day for a photo shoot and you chose perfect locations for this cutie. Very nice backgrounds in all of the photos. Oakley’s happy and excited face is just too cute 🙂

tee4tia - I’m in love with Oakley. Cavaliers are such love bugs, and your photos just make him shine through.

Joan DeMartin - Hi Illona!
Great shoot of Oakley! Love your work!!! Rachel just raves about how talented you are-and I agree!

Don’t know whether you’ve checked out my blog, Bocci’s Beefs or not, but take a look and become an official “Follower” if you will 🙂 http://www.boccibeefs.blogspot.com.
Also check out my sister’s photography website at: http://www.reneedemartinphotographyanddesign.com and let her know what you think. She a long-time, multi-media artist and has been doing photography for about 15-20 years, but just got this website up and running.
I’m about to list your website and blog on Bocci’s Beefs.
Joan and Bocci

Susan Humphreys - Gorgeous photographs as usual Illona. I love the ‘farewell’ shot at the
end. Super little dog!!

Marla - Loved this! That last shot is so fitting for the farewell 🙂

Lori - what a dramatic entry into the family~i’m glad he ended up bringing them together rather than the opposite! (and, really, as cute as he is, how could he have done otherwise 🙂
those purple flowers do have great photographic-element-potential, delicate and wild-looking at the same time!

Lainer - The best picture is the one in the woods. Nice job!

Anda - Oh, wow, Oakley’s set is marvelous!

Vicky (tv writer) - Incredible series, Illona…what a beautiful happy dog! My favorite is the one of him flying along, with his ears like propellers…!

I love how you tell stories with your words and images… you captured this day so perfectly.

Liz - Ooooh I love this shoot. So much coluor and so many yummy sun flares. I love the shot of Oakley running with his ears flapping in the breeze. Awesome!

tough collars for tough dogs with FREE tags! ~ {cool dog products}

… AND at unbeatable prices.  many of you have probably seen those biothane collars at your local pet-supply stores … those soft, rubbery-plastic collars that come in a myriad of colours, are extremely durable, easily cleaned by simply wiping off, and don’t hold odors.  the ones you get at your local pet-supply store are great, but they can be pricey.

so how about going to the original source of these kinds of collars.  although they seem new to your local pet store, these collars have actually been around for a long time in the hunting dog world, and they don’t cost a fortune.  what’s more, Steve Snell of gun dog supply sells all of his collars with an awesome FREE brass plate ID tag.  these are definitely one of my favorite dog things and matea — my crazy, muddy, puddle-loving wirehaired pointer — has always worn one of these collars.


of course, she doesn’t normally wear it in the house.  this is her ‘field’ collar.  these TufFlex collars resist mildew and bacteria, and, as such, are odor-free.  they’re soft and flexible, even in our canadian winters; and even after years of abuse, this collar shows no sign of wear.  i have always preferred the “centre-ring” style, pictured above.  i never understood why this style of collar isn’t more popular.  (A) the centre-ring collar is a “rollover design” that aids in your dog’s safety in case it gets snagged on something in the field, and (B) when it comes to clipping on the leash quickly, bam! the ring is right there.  no struggling to find the ring under your Rover’s chin.

i prefer the 3/4″ collar but it also comes in a 1″ sizenote: you want to be sure to buy the right length (sometimes a little small) so that the centre ring stays at the centre of the neck.

AND, you can get a leash to match …


… luxuriously soft, won’t burn your hands, and far more ‘grippy’ than any other leash (other than my super dooper rubber leash which i’ll share with you in another “things we love” entry).

and as i said, the tag is FREE if you order from gun dog supply.


and these plate tags are awesome.  no dangling, dingling, clinking, clanging … and no lost ID!

now, admittedly, gun dog supply is a US-based site, so you’ll end up paying shipping, but you won’t get hit with duty if your order is under $20 or so … and these collars are UNDER $10!!

of course, the only thing matea cares about when it comes to a leash and collar, is whether she gets out for a walk.



Lainer - I purchased two collars for my french bulldog Ozzy. Red and blue. They were cheap. I got free brass nameplates. I did what they suggested on the website, to put my name and number with “reward if found”, and “needs meds”, in the event that Ozzy gets lost or stolen. I almost fell into the trap of putting Ozzy’s name. I’ve always done it that way, but now realize it just isn’t safe. Thanks for the collar information.

Sydney - This is the a collar I need!! I relized this yesterday when we went to my best friends farm and Cody decided once again to roll in horse poop. His collar, though I scrubbed a lot, it stained. He also goes in the bush and swimming a lot probably help. I have one question, do you let her wear it during winter? I thought maybe the ring would get to cold on their necks during Canadian winters, especialy. I am defintly going to consider purchasing one of these for Cody’s more adventurous walks.

Susan Humphreys - Matea makes a great model! Your photographs rock!

Liz - What a good little model!

Holly Garner-Jackson - I just loved the one you gave Maggie as a gift a few years ago! The ID tag is the best! Thank you!

amy b - These look great! And it would be nice to have the integrated tag instead of loud hanging ones at night. Though we may not be able to function in such a deafening silence….

Angela - Wow, these look awesome! Thanks for sharing. Off to check out the gundog site and pick on of these up for my Koda boy. 🙂

Stephanie Horner - LOVE Gun Dog Supply and LOVE these collars and leashes!

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 🙂

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