• ... 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 trusty 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 (NOTE: previous years of blog entries have been archived.)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 scruffnut a beef tendon to gnaw on, and enjoy the photos and ramblin's.

thinking about a unique, one-of-a-kind gift?

it’s not too late to add a piece of scruffy dog under the tree this year for your favorite family member, your closest friend, or even your best friend — Rover himself … and Fi-fi too.


sessions can be paid for in full, or dollar amounts can be purchased to be applied to a session … whatever fits your budget and situation.

of course, gift certificates are available year round, but for those looking for something different to make their loved ones’ Christmas morning a little more exciting …


… a scruffy dog gift certificate is a great option.  just contact me via the website to get yours!


diesel and jake

meet diesel and jake …


… reddog sidekicks of trainer Diane Holmes of  Holmes on Hounds.   That’s Diesel girl on the left whispering sweet nothings into younger brother Jake’s ear.






the thing about Diesel and Jake is that they know how to have fun … especially with Jake as the instigator …



Diane is a Certified Educator Trainer, taking her classes to the streets of Toronto and teaching people how to manage their dogs in the real world — Street Safety Training — something i’ve always been a huge advocate of, seven years ago starting up my own training-in-the-park group that met weekly to expose our dogs to various challenges and obstacles outside of a controlled (and often boring for the dog) training facility.  anyone with a challenging dog or seeking an avenue to deepen their bond with their dog should definitely try out this kind of group class.


so, inkeeping with Diane’s approach we thoroughly enjoyed the park on one of the last warm days of November.


if Diesel is the sweetheart …


… Jake is the goofball of the family …


and a consummate athlete.


although Diesel-girl had a few moves of her own …



fortunately these guys also knew how to chill out.



and check out Jake’s form … he actually lies like this.  part cat, perhaps? :)





then back home for a few indoor shots … don’t take Jake’s expression as any kind of statement on his part.  he enjoyed the attention.


and Diesel was simply gorgeous no matter what the light …


i loved Jake’s twisty feet …


… and Diesel’s eyes …


thanks, Diesel and Jake, and thanks, Diane, for a wonderful afternoon.  see you soon at your add-on shoot!



diane - Illona is right – the second set of shots are spectacular. It truly is a testament to the quality of Illona’s work. I was thrilled with the first set, the second set are STUNNING – now I have to CHOOSE!! Thanks for making it a difficult task! :-)

Liz - and by post these on FB, I meant a link to your blog :)

Liz - I saw Diane post these on Facebook after the shoot and she was so thrilled!

illona - thanks again, everyone, for your visits and comments. i’ll admit that i honestly wasn’t pleased with this shoot … the light was harsh, the park was crowded … nowhere near the kinds of shots i’d hoped for.

mind you, after doing lots of processing, i think it turned out better than i’d originally thought, but still, i’m all about “getting the best”, not just “good enough” … i live by high standards. SO, in spite of Diane’s excitement over these images, i had her come out to scruffy dog territory a week later for a make-up shoot … and THOSE images rock. i’ll post them very soon.

of course, this leaves Diane with an incredibly difficult task of choosing from TWO full galleries of images. :)

diane - marci – they’re both rescues (unrelated to each other) and we were told they were each some kind of hound mix. But I see RR in them as well! Well, mostly just around the head – they have long bodies and short legs! They have so much fun together – we couldn’t have found 2 dogs who are better matched.

Marci - Loved this! Are they RR mixes? Looks like they have a wonderful life together. Gorgeous photos.

Jean - Absolutely spectacular session of these two who are so full of character.

Hey I’m glad to see I’m not the only one who wears a leash instead of holding on with hands. The freedom to have two free hands is amazing and so is the control. When I see people who can barely hang on to their lunging, snarling dogs it freaks me out.

Lesley Sullivan - Super cool pics! I wish you were closer to my neck of the woods. Dogs are not easy o photograph coz they move so quick. Keep the great work up! :)

illona - thanks, guys. glad you like ‘em, diane. see you tomorrow!

nick, ALL my sessions are long. i’ve yet to have a single session under three hours. well, one not-so-cooperative cat had me leaving after two hours … but dogs, no way.

nick - Whoa looks like it was a long session :D Awesome job with those two indeed/

diane - I’m so thrilled with Illona’s work, and these shots are beautiful! I can’t wait to see them up on my walls! Illona – I loved your passion, your commitment to quality and attention to detail. Thank you so much!

Margaret - Gorgeous red dogs!!! and lovely, lovely pictures of them, Illona!!!

she had me at ‘woof’

i totally and completely fell in love with a dog today.  don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of dogs who touch me … client dogs … whom i enjoy every moment with, and a small part of me wishes i could take them home.

but today’s client has them all beat. when this girl flew out the front door to greet me, i think i actually gasped.  and i’m pretty sure Karen,  her owner, lost count of the number of times i told sweet Kiera she was the most gorgeous dog on the planet.  totally my kinda dog … stunningly scruffy, joyful and buoyant, free-spirited, and pretty darn smart.

i’ll have more photos to share soon, but thought i’d share at least one for now …


if you crossed my departed murph with my serious girl matea, i imagine Kiera is pretty close to what you’d get.  a lovely, spirited girl whose photos i can’t wait to work on.


karen - This shot is beautiful. Can’t wait to see the rest.

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