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 (NOTE: previous years of blog entries have been archived.)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

sweet girl maddie ~ {Waterloo, Ontario pet photographer}

meet sweet Maddie …

no year at scruffy dog would be complete without at least one (or several) yellow labs … and we have Maddie to thank for fulfilling part of this year’s quota.  and why are yellow labs an important staple? because they’re so gosh-darn photogenic!  just look at this girl … in any environment!
Maddie came to the studio area for her scruffy Starter session – a shorter session which incorporates one location but still provides a strong gallery of unique images.  Maddie wasn’t the easiest model … typical of senior dogs, she was antsy … eager to explore the new environments and scents. sometimes i think these seniors realize that their time is a little more limited, and there are still too many things to do, smells to smell, pee-mail to leave.  Maddie was no different … she was ready to rock and roll …
… and unless you put her in a ‘sit’, she really was just ready to go!
still, we got lots of smiles from this sweet girl …
thanks, Suzanne, for introducing me to your wonderful girl.  since it’s taken me so long to ‘publish’ this blog entry, i know you’re already enjoying her custom-framed pints and all of the other goodies in your package!

  

Joni A Solis - Wonderful yellow lab in enchanting backgrounds. Love these photos.

Gary Zemaitis - Great pictures!

Michelle Bradshaw - wow, she is beautiful. Gorgeous shots illona!

lola & stella ~ {Oakville, Ontario pet photographer}

meet Lola and Stella…

they had a little a lotta fun at their scruffy session.  running in the woods …

…running in the fields.
…and doing a little posing.
the younger Stella had lots to say during our session, but this many years in the business, quite frankly, i’ve heard it all before, Stella.
Lola was such a great model …
… even if some of the time she wasn’t quite sure which way to look.
for Lola and Stella’s session we chose to shoot around the scruffy studio, using the forest, fields and – for these water-loving retrievers – the river!
how beautiful are these two girls?
thanks, Jen and Kev, for introducing me to your two gorgeous girls, and for entrusting me with capturing their images.

  

Vicky (tv writer on Flickr) - These are absolutely stunning, Illona. I feel like I’m following right next to you, watching these two gorgeous girls, frolicking through their fun afternoon.
Amazing work, as always!

Jaqueline Damstra-Saadeldin - Fantastic work! I love, love, love the pics!

Andrea Hayes - Can never get enough of your work – gorgeous dogs and stunningly preserved memories yet again!!!

Laura - I love your work!! :) Stella and Lola are beautiful dogs!!

goodbye, lovely maya ~ {Toronto dog photographer}

this blog entry has been a while coming.  but — knowing guardians Corinne and Phi as well as i do after three sessions with them, and now a fourth with their boy Blitz — i knew they needed some time for the loss of their amazing girl to not feel like such a raw wound.

the bond that Corinne and Phil had with their girl was unmistakable … and the bond that she had with her brother Blitz was just as deep.   in fact, during their last session with both dogs and me, Corinne and Phil and i — knowing that Maya may have very little time due to a recent turn for the worse with her health — discussed Blitz’s future as well, what kinds of things could be done to help him in Maya’s impending absence, what kind of dog could possibly be adopted to fill the void, if any dog could fill that void?

since Maya’s passing a few weeks ago, Corinne has written me that Blitz is benefiting from the activities and diversion of daycare, which i think is a fabulous idea.  still, the loss of their girl Maya has hit this very tight pack hard and they are often on my mind.  two evenings ago i had the incredible pleasure of spending another evening with Corinne and Phil and their amazing boy Blitz … i will share images from that solo session at a later date, but a few sneak peeks can be found on the scruffy dog facebook page.  they’re moving on, but not easily … and Maya’s absence is still very, very noticeable.

i met this fabulous pack first back in February for the winter portion of their Seasons Session
… where we had loads of fun on the trails around the studio.
our next session was their summer segment.  it was hot, and a little buggy …
… and Corinne and Phil came an hour early to really run the dogs before their session.  however, the trail they used was a packed-gravel trail, and it seemed that these two ran a little too much, resulting in raw, sensitive paws!  so when it came time for our session, neither of them were really up for running.  we were joking about Blitz being a princess, not wanting to run on the rougher gravel areas, until i spotted the sore paws, and we realized that we really weren’t going to be able to get a lot of summer running shots.
and then Maya’s health took a turn for the worse.  one weekend evening she very quickly became weak and lethargic, and was rushed to the ER vet’s, where it was discovered that she had a large amount of blood pooled around her heart.  having this accumulated blood removed did wonders, but getting any kind of a certain diagnosis wasn’t going to be as easy.  diagnosing her condition would require extremely invasive procedures, and at almost 10 years of age, that obviously wasn’t the right decision.

Corinne contacted me almost immediately, concerned that Maya would not make it to our fall session where we had the tunnel-of-trees location on the books.  and i agreed that there was no waiting.  so that week, i fit this fantastic pack in for an Honor Session™.

yeah, it was slotted as a Starter session, but of course i shot it as a Standard, spending a good three hours with this family in order to ensure we captured as many photos of Maya, with Blitz, as possible, in several locations.
i say it again and again: it is so absolutely important to capture photos of your four-leggers.  whether you hire a professional to create artwork and an incredible keepsake album, whether you take photos yourself and make up some kind of online consumer photobook, or even use your cell phone to create a digital album, it doesn’t matter!  just make sure you capture those photos to remember them by.  scruffy dog photography is a business that was born from the loss of a dog named Murph — the original scruffy dog.  i lost him very suddenly at only 4 years of age to vaccine-induced lymphoma.  with only four rolls film — two of those taken in those final days when he was dying — i learned the hardest way possible how utterly meaningful even a small handful of photos can be … and i would do anything to have more and better photos of him today.

again, it was so incredibly wonderful to see Corinne and Phil and Blitz again the other afternoon, to spend some time these wonderful people, and witness and share their deep bond.  i look forward to the day when they add a new member to their pack, but i know that Maya’s spirit will always be with them, in their hearts, and following the spirit of their pack wherever they go.

  

Noneya O'Sullivan - Bless your heart for bringing them early to capture their beautiful girl. This thread choked me up a bit as I have an 11 year old boy and I don’t want to think of the day I have to say goodbye :(

Diane - What a touching tribute to an amazing girl. Illona – these pictures are so beautiful I can’t pic a favourite. Every time I see one that captures Maya’s spirit, I see another breathtaking photo. I’m so glad that Corinne and Phil have these beautiful pictures to remember her by. So many amazing shots of Blitz too!

Kelly Anne Beal - Wonderful post.

Melody Henkel - The last picture of Maya is breathtaking and heartbreaking.

Anne Keller Saulter - These are beautiful photos and a wonderful tribute to a very loved family member. Thank you for sharing your blog and reminding everyone of capturing these moments and memories, before it’s too late.

Lisa Copland - We had the most wonderful Border Collie named Taz, whom we adopted from the Humane Society at 11 months of age. When he died almost 3 years ago at the age of 14 it broke our hearts. While we took many photos of him, I wish I’d known about your business back then. These images of Maya are beautiful and I’m sure bring her pack a lot of comfort and happy memories. I would have loved to have beautiful portraits of Taz to keep for all time. What a gift you have given them!

Maddy Pretty Scanlon - Awwwwwww that is so beautiful I too am an animal lover I have four birds two dogs and two cats and I lost my one bird last Nov :’( he was a dove and his name was Elvis I saved him when I got him he was sick so I took him to the vets and he got medication and I took care of him and he got better he followed me everywhere in the house slept on my chest cooed to me and he was my bestfriend for 8 yrs and then last Nov he died I am truly heartbroken :”( an animals love is unconditionaly and I miss him everyday until we meet again always in my Heart and Memmorries oxox

Joni Solis - I recently loss my large, male, GSD and these photos have me crying. Lovely photos of wonderful GSDs!

S e a r c h
F a c e b o o k
S u b s c r i b e
M e r r i c k