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 (NOTE: previous years of blog entries have been archived.)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

the annual SDP Holiday Tribute gift ~ {Ontario pet photographer}

back for another year, i’m pleased to offer the annual SDP Holiday Tribute GiftSDP gives back throughout the year in regards to raising funds and awareness for pet rescue groups and taking photos of foster dogs.  but i also strive to give back to individuals.

it’s without question that, in my chosen line of work, i meet a lot of awesome scruffnuts …4-leggers for whom it is my deep and absolute honour to capture their noble souls, their joy, their strength, the love and bond they share with their guardians, their courage and heroism, their vitality…

bozely harron-212

but equally as meaningful to me is the opportunity to meet the many truly amazing pet guardians who share their lives … people who love not only their own animals, but anything with four legs … people who move heaven and earth to truly fulfill their pet’s needs and lives … people who love their scruffies unconditionally … people who give tirelessly to the welfare of all pets … people who rescue or adopt.  i’ve also seen my share of loss over the years that i’ve been photographing other peoples’ pets … so i know, not only first-hand but also through SDP, how meaningful those captured images of our pets end up being.


with all of that in mind, it has often left me wondering about the pet guardians i haven’t had the opportunity to meet yet … people who wouldn’t dream of booking their own photo session for their pet, or who can’t afford it, or who selflessly spend their money on anything but themselves because they are too busy giving themselves, their time or their funds to rescuing, fostering, or helping in any way they can and don’t have an ounce left for themselves.  well, this is what the SDP Holiday Tribute Gift is for — this is my way to help you give a scruffy dog session to someone just like that!

yes, a scruffy dog session giveaway! … no voting, no facebook ‘likes’ … not some online popularity contest.  this is about hearing your heartfelt stories and giving back in the best way i know how:  capturing meaningful and moving images of the special pet in someone’s life because it would mean the world to them. one very special session to a well-deserving, extraordinary person who perhaps can’t invest in a custom photo session, or someone who would be more likely to give an SDP gift certificate than purchase one for themselves, maybe someone who works tirelessly for the welfare of our companion animals, or someone going through a tough time and whose pet is the only thing getting them through … whatever the story, i want to hear it!


and since i would like to present this Tribute Gift in time for the holiday season, you don’t have much time to get your nominations in!  the submission period will run right up until midnight, December 22nd, and my hope is to announce the recipient of the SDP Holiday Tribute gift on the 23rd or 24th.

here’s what you need to submit:

1. your name

2. nominee’s name

3. nominee’s email address (we’re obviously going to have to email them their gift certificate!)

4. nominee’s location/city

5. nominee’s story: what makes them deserving? their situation special? tell me about their bond with their 4-legger and what their 4-legger means to them … maybe even what an SDP session would mean to them.  (there is no limit to the word count, but please bear in mind that i’ll have a number of submissions to read through.)

6. a photo of the nominee’s 4-legger or a link to a posted photo of the 4-legger  (why? because i’ll need something to post on the blog and facebook when i announce the winner.)

7. and perhaps a little about the nominee’s pet … but remember, this is more about the nominee and the reasons you are nominating them.

… and yes, you are allowed to nominate multiple people.

please submit all of the above information to: illona@scruffydogphotography.com … and please title your email: “SDP Holiday Tribute Gift”

please know that the SDP Holiday Tribute Gift is a scruffy dog Starter session, and will be shot here in the Kitchener-Waterloo area in one of our awesome locations … however, this session can be upgraded and/or travel can be purchased.  also, this is intended for one pet — that one special pet in one special person’s life — but adding pets is always possible.

if you don’t already follow the SDP facebook page, you might want to start, as this is where i will be announcing the recipient first.


so, please think about the deserving, selfless, pet-loving people you know in your life who you think would truly cherish some photographic memories of their 4-legger, and send me their stories now!  you have until December 22nd!  i look forward to reading all of your nominations!


Norma Rowley - I look forward to learning about the nominees….

Robyn Elizabeth - I can’t wait to hear all the stories :) Like Michelle this is one of my favourite parts of the Christmas season. I love that someone is going to receive something so amazing that they otherwise wouldn’t because I know how much my photos of Bailey and Shelbs mean to me :)

Holly Garner-Jackson - Once more with feeling! You rock, illona!

Lisa Collins - This is great! I don’t have anyone to nominate, but also can’t wait to hear the stories. :)

Michelle Bradshaw - I’m looking forward to hearing the stories. …it’s become part of my Christmas tradition!

chewy & jethro ~ {Toronto pet photographer}

while the grip of an early winter starts to settle in around us, and our fall sessions have truly wound down to a finish for 2013, i thought it high time to finally share a few images from Chewy and Jethro’s session from this past spring…

meet the two boys who win for being the two scruffy clients with the most expressions!  SDP clients already curse me for giving them rather large galleries of their scruffnuts, but i think mom Liz might have gotten one just a wee bit bigger than most simply due to her boys’ constantly varying expressions.

case in point…
and in case you’re wondering just what kind of dog this handsome boy Chewy is … keep guessing!  because he’s totally anyone’s guess.  possibly Briard/Chow.
and Mr. Hypno-eyes himself, Jethro, is likely a Border Colliretraniel … that’s a border collie + retriever + spaniel, for the uninitiated.
if i’m reading their booking form properly, they’re both adopted through Ugly Mutts … in fact, Jethro was a foster failure for Liz.
Chewy and Jethro’s session was this past May when the buds were starting to pop, and the grasses were bright …
…and lots of fresh smells to roll in.
after a good deal of running and posing, we headed down to the river for even more fun …
and that Jethro can be SO demanding if you don’t throw his stick right away!
while Chewy, well, Chewy preferred to show off his water ballet moves…
thanks for sharing your boys with me, Liz.  i’m looking forward to our next session next May with your newest foster failure Joker!!


Susan Humphreys@msn.com - Sorry, me again! I just had a look on your facebook page for
the first time as I’m a complete novice at social networking, but
I saw that beautiful photo of the dogs paw on the ladies hand,it
is so poignant, it made me cry.!! I’ll have to try and keep up to
date with your blog on facebook in the future. I miss your pics
on flickr too.

Susan Humphreys

Susan Humphreys - Love these Illona, the ones with the focus on the dogs eyes are
just gorgeous! Hope the two goobers are well.I love your solution
to the desk problem. Genius!

Susan Humphreys

Valerie Beyer - Thanks for enabling me to start my day with big smiles. You’ve captured their love of life and joy of “just being” so well.

Holly Garner-Jackson - Wow! Such great photos as usual! I really love Chewy, and we coincidentally are watching Star Wars as I type this!! LOL I thought these were large dogs until that last shot! Obviously they are small but mighty! Such great presence!

Sarah Renee Stevenson - Such beautiful photos! And very lucky Ugly Mutts… ;)

Nancy Haslam - Aw-w-w, my heart is joyful. Wonderful pics!

Bev Pickard - I have a couple of the Ugly Mutts . Your photographs make me very happy. Thank you

Darlene Girard - Mutts are the greatest! Your photos bring me so much joy.. you really capture the light in their eyes, and the light within too ..Thank you for sharing .. I look forward to seeing your latest adventures everyday.

a few adjustments to the work station ~ {Ontario pet photographer}

with as many hours as a busy photographer puts behind the computer — editing, prepping images for print, designing albums, and responding to emails and inquiries of all kinds — well, it doesn’t matter how ergonomic and carefully laid out your work station is, how high-end the chair is that you plant your butt in, day in and day out … pulling those long hours takes its toll on your body.  in fact, even during my 20-year career of writing novels, often burning the midnight oil, i never put in these kinds of hours … and my body never experienced this kind of pain.

so, i’ve been looking into alternatives.  i’ve tried kneeling chairs over the years… they’re okay.  the big balls … well, the problem is, my workstation is very high to begin with, so i’d need a SUPER big ball and have not been able to find one.

and then … there’s standing!  of course, you can spend hundreds and thousands of dollars on a “standing desk” with hydraulics … and perhaps one is in my future.  but with the way my station is set up, with long side tables, it’s not an ideal fit anyway.

so … with a little ingenuity, a little thinking outside the box, a few measurements, and a little online searching for the right components, i’ve added a new ‘position’ to my work environment!

standing desk-2
with the platform or “sub-table” bringing my keyboard and mouse to a comfortable level of elbow-height, all i have to do is raise my display and tilt it.  honestly, setting myself up to be ready to work in a standing position takes seconds … no doubt, far less time than it would be to wait for an adjustable ‘standing desk’s’ hydraulics to get me to the correct position!

standing desk-3

this little stand is a $25 remedy.  it is a combination of Ikea’s Ekby Bjarnum’s aluminum brackets and the Ekby Viktor 29 1/2″ shelf.  it took me maybe 15 mins to drill the holes and screw on the legs, and bam.  yeah, the goober helped … only sorta, kinda.

standing desk-5

standing desk-6

the idea, obviously, isn’t to stand all day!  gah!  my lower back could never manage that, nor could my feet.  the aim, of course, is to just offer more variety of positions, to keep moving, and not be sedentary … because the bottom line is: the work’s gotta get done!

of course, i’m not suggesting that this particular combination will work for everyone.  as mentioned, my workstation is already quite high, and well, i’m kinda short.  so making up the difference in height didn’t require more than 7-8″.  if you’re considering doing something similar, you may need a higher “sub-table”.  take measurements!

i hope you’ve enjoyed this behind-the-scenes peek into scruffy dog … more than that, i hope it’s inspired and maybe helped you consider your own desk situation!


Monica Schwartz - Brilliant! And it’s a great suggestion for me, too, as my work station is ok but certainly not optimal. Once I have completed my move and I’m set up on the other side of the ocean, I will start optimizing, and your post couldn’t have happened at a better time. So, thank you! Lots of fuss to Merrick & Miss Matea!

Paula Weir - I have created something similar for myself, but much more rugged and cheap. I bought a $3.99 rubbermaid step stool, took a piece of plywood and covered it with polar fleece and laid it over the step stool. Place my laptop and external mouse on top and I instantly can stand to work at the perfect level. I too find it difficult to work from a chair all day. ps. your photo’s are out of this world. I have a whippet that I would love you to capture at his full speed.

Pamela Dobbs - love it I mean!

Pamela Dobbs - thanks! I lone it!

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