• ... 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 scruffy sidekicks. For more details on illona and the mcscruffies, 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 (NOTE: previous years of blog entries have been archived.)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 scruffy a beef tendon to gnaw on, and enjoy the photos and ramblin's.

what goes on at a scruffy dog photo shoot …

we all have a pretty miserable time …

… and then we check your teeth.

just had to add the next two … i’m still sorting through Oxford’s shoot from Sunday … these may not even be the best shots from this group.  they just happen to be the first three …

have a great tuesday, everyone.  i’m off to meet another four wagging clients this afternoon … hoping that the weather gods don’t conspire against us.


Jackie - He’s totally impersonating a gremlin in the first shot :)Very excellent!

Karen - If these aren’t even the best, I’m very curious how the rest of those pictures are.
They are amazing.
His bosses must be thrilled with those kind of shots.

Ciao ciao

Poochie Freak - Oh wow, a kung fu dog! Amazing photos!!


donna - omg, these are just the best and i can sooo relate to this wee boy’s air time 🙂

Anda - These three images are amazing, Illona! Look at this cutie get some serious air! Love them, can’t wait to see more!

Holly Garner-Jackson - Wild thing! Think I love you! Awesome action illona!

allison f. - SUPER photos.

Jean (allegrolhw) - Crazzzzy LOL!

The Burrows - That second one has me thinking Bruce Lee 😉

alexa - Haha! These are so awesome Ilona!

Timorous Beastie - Excellent action shots. He does look like the bad gremlin in the first photo 🙂

Lisa Brencis - The first one is hilarious! Does anyone feed him after midnight? LOL! But the 3rd one is the one I’d actually frame.

jennifer metzger - on wood floors, no less! my dog would have killed himself! what a character he is!

Margaret - He truly defies gravity. Did he ever have all 4 feet on the ground at the same time? OUTSTANDING pictures, Illona!!!

the most beautiful thing i’ve seen in a long time

i just have to share a video by fellow dog photographer Anja Zaharanski from Germany.  it is easily the most visually beautiful piece i’ve seen in as long as i can remember … touching me so deeply i seriously almost wept.  it captures the essence of all the shared walks and hikes, the connection you share with your dog when out in the elements, the bond and the magic.

with so many clients and so many photos, i haven’t taken any time to teach myself video editing.  this magical piece by Anja reminds me of how much I need to get some video of my girl Matea while she still possesses some of her vibrancy and power.  this is the kind of artwork i can only dream of, one day, making of my girl.

enjoy …

and if the embedded video stutters or acts funky, you can go watch it on youtube or on Anja’s dogscanbark website.


pet caskets - Oh, that’s a very beautiful pet video.. it made me cried too..

Tamara - I cried. Made my heart ache for my dog. It’s beautiful.

Sweetpea - Oh yes, THANK YOU for this lovely reminder…I need to do this, too, a video…something live, while my sweet girl still lives on this earth. That vid was so lovely – please tell your friend how much it was enjoyed!

andrea - i absolutely loved this!! thank you for sharing! 🙂

jennifer metzger - Really lovely. I take loads of video but have no idea how to do anything artistic like this. Ultimately, when Blue is gone, I won’t care if it is artisitic or not. Learned this the hard way with my first dog and don’t plan on making the same mistake again. Videos show stuff photos just can’t capture – can vice versa. This is really great, thanks for sharing.

Roger - That … was … beautiful.

Linda - Just beautiful. I was truly overwhelmed watching it.

Rachel - wow! amazing, so so beautiful. I’ve done some video work in the past. I need to do more…

marlesghillie - Just lovely… I really miss my walks with Ghillie. The endless curiosity of dogs and their ‘living for the moment’ outlook always makes you realise what life is actually for.

Margaret - Beautiful dog! Beautiful video!

Poochie Freak - Saw your link on facebook. Wow that is beautiful, thanks for sharing. A reminder for me to video the dogs in the woods this afternoon too 🙂


hello gorgeous - absolutely stunning!! pulls at your heart strings……what a beautiful dog also….looking so lovingly at her owner, wanting her to play…..checking back to see if she’s still there…..beautiful! ;o)


hello gorgeous xxx

bublynski - Stunning!! How did she DO this?! It is pure magic – I could watch it over and over, all day long.

we interrupt our regularly scheduled clients … ~ {Ontario dog photographer}

… to bring you a scruffy interlude.  it’s not often these days that i have the time to shoot my own scruffies, much less have the opportunity to share them with you here on the blog, but i thought it was high time to share some Merrick-le cuteness.

so this past week we headed up north … to the shores of Georgian Bay where i grew up.  just a quick day visit, but no trip would be complete for these two water dogs without a trip to the beach.

this was Merrick’s second trip to the “big water” … the first was back in May, and those who know Georgian Bay know it’s damn cold in May.  well, it’s a different story in September … the water is soft and warm, and i think Merrick believed he’d died and gone to heaven.

Matea, too, was pretty thrilled to be dipping her achy spine into the warmer waves.

but i’m getting ahead of myself.   before the lake, there’s always a hike first … and this time of year, it’s a muddy one.  and with a little white fluffy dog, flying through puddles on 3″ legs, his fine, flowing hair attracting burrs and seeds like flypaper does flies in a horse-stable, well, we wondered if the lake would even take care of this mess!

of course, it’s no wonder he hits every puddle he sees … this former puppymill stud dog learns about the world through his big sister Matea … and no dog does mud like Matea.

so …

can you believe this is the same little goobernuts that sleeps in our bed with us?

the big orange band Matea is sporting is just a slip-on collar i keep in the car for such occasions.  i couldn’t remember if hunting season had started for turkey or anything else, so better safe than sorry.

then, off to the lake to get clean … and to fetch, of course.  throw it! throw it! throwitthrowitthrowit!!!

we used Merrick’s new fetching toy … the West Paw Design Hurley.  unfortunately, you won’t be seeing a blog entry of this toy in the “things we love” series.  yes, Merrick loves this toy, but it’s not very suited for what it was recommended to us for — a water retrieving toy.  the thing is so heavy that it sinks quite deep with each throw, and is excruciatingly slow to come to the surface … meanwhile, my dog is circling and dunking and circling and dunking.  and if i dare to use this in even a slow moving river, Merrick can’t find it in time  … the Hurley is headed downstream and i’m having to send Matea in after it.

now i see online that West Paw recommends it as a “chew toy”.  well, my dogs chew on venison necks or other big hunks of dinner, treats in a kong maybe … but not just some hunk of “zogoflex” rubber.  so, although Merrick might give the Hurley two paws up, sadly, it’s two thumbs down for us.

and the more Merrick has to dunk for the ever-sinking Hurley, the more his hair ends up in his eyes.  it’s a wonder he can even find the shore sometimes!

of course, he’d have no clue what to do with all of this water or a tossed toy without his main girl, Matea.  she taught him everything he knows.

and man, does this boy need a trim.  his hair just keeps growing and growing.  i actually took the thinning shears to him today, but i need some better ones.  his coat is difficult to maintain if he’s to be a trail dog … and i can’t even imagine how winter will treat him with snow balls sticking to his fine hair.

i hope you enjoyed this scruffy interlude.  i’d also like to take this opportunity to thank all of my awesome clients who have spent a little time with this gooberhead during their studio consults.  every little bit has helped this boy come out his shell and become the dog he is today in the short six months he’s been with us … learning to trust the world, to be a dog, and to love people.  thanks, everyone!


Penny - These are so fantastic. You’ve got a gorgeous doggie family.

Jean (allegrolhw) - love love love it!

Jackie - Great post! The shot of Merrick shaking out his fur is priceless!

Holly Garner-Jackson - So glad you got yourself and the kids out to Georgian Bay. It’s great to see Matea in action again. And Merrick….. what’s not to love about that goobernut. Your photos tell the story! Fun, fun, fun!!!!

As for the orange collar, Ralph now wears the one you sent Maggie and though it isn’t hunting season yet, it is dark when we have our evening walks. The fact that this collar is reversible and reflective on the other side is so important to us! Thanks, from Ralph and I !

Love this shoot!!!

illona - jennifer, that is exactly what merrick’s butt is going to look like! i’m going to look into “pawpro” … and am considering dressing him in morley’s old “Star Trek” suit when when we do trails in the snow … http://www.flickr.com/photos/illonahaus/148270988/

tamela, thanks! glad you enjoy it.

katy, when you come to pick up your order, remind me. I think i’ve got an extra one. i got it from gundogsupply.com … i’m pretty sure.

toxeh - Ahaha, I love the shaking pictures. His coat is hilarious. We have a blue Hurley and I agree – it’s a rather boring toy! Glad you got to spend some time shooting your pooches!

kelli (alice's mama) - as always, great shots… i feel like i was right there in the action! love the set, second to last, with the long hair doing the shake-shake. look at the centrifugal force on that first one! awesome.

Katy Brunkard - Oh Illona, these pictures are just too great!!! They really look just so blissful! Where abouts did you pick up that orange collar? We’ve looked for one, as we too have our concerns when we’re hiking during hunting season. This cooler weather is PERFECT for long, muddy hikes!! If only Bentley would like the bathtub as much as he likes the mud puddles!

Truly enjoyed looking at these photos!!

tamela haley - i can’t tell you how much i enjoy your photos. especially your two scruffies! your website adds a ray of sunshine to my day:)

jennifer metzger - oh, the fun! Some comments – don’t buy the Ruffdawg flying fish either if you don’t like the sink and float toys. Blue actually loves them, he is pretty intrigued by their sudden appearance! Have you tried Loopies water toys? I bet Merrick would love one. Regarding his coat in the winter – look up a product called “pawpro” – I sell it like crazy in the store, and have used it on Blue’s paws and butt hair to keep snowball build up. It does not protect agaisn’t cold like booties, but it is a lanolin based spray that repels the buildup of snowballs on your dog (and keeps pads nice and moist). This is what happens when you DON’T use pawpro:

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