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Internationally-renowned, award-winning animal photographer Illona Haus is the province's premier pet photographer, serving clients across Ontario, the US and the world. Photographing exclusively animals, both commercially and for private clients, since 2007, scruffy dog photography inc. -- based in Kitchener, Ontario -- is considered one of the world's leading and most influential pet photographers.


To learn more about the scruffy dog experience, its creator and history, as well as how YOUR scruffy can become a part of the SDP family, feel free to browse through the menu above, and scroll through a decade's worth of blog entries below!


Please drop us a line! We'd love the opportunity to capture stunning, creative, one-of-a-kind photographic memories of your 4-legged loved ones to treasure in artwork for a lifetime, and show you just what makes the scruffy dog experience second to none.

goldens on pond

take the Grand River in the late afternoon, add one golden retriever and — besides the aroma of wet dog — you get one might happy dog and a pretty decent opportunity for some fabulous shots.  take the Grand River in the late afternoon, add TWO golden retrievers and, well, that’s like leaving an unsupervised five-year-old with a sweet tooth in a candy store overnight.  but give that late afternoon Grand River to THREE golden retrievers and we’re talking sheer mayhem.

meet the Thompson goldens …


Tyson, front and centre, Muskoka to the left, and Marley back right. oh yeah, the look calm enough, don’t they?  😉

in fact, Marley was unbearably shy with the camera, desperately trying to scrabble out of  the room as soon as i started clicking.  this is why i always prefer to start shoots outdoors, where the sound of the shutter is diffused and the great outdoors serves to distract dogs enough to warm them to the camera gradually, so that by the time we return from our walk or hike or even from the back yard, they are more relaxed with the concept of the big cameras.

so, we went to the backyard …


… where Marley warmed up to the camera quickly.  in fact, he warmed up almost too quickly!


most of the time it was only Marley i was seeing through the viewer!

but older brother Tyson waited patiently for his turn …


and Muskoka was always such a doll … even though she wasn’t supposed to go into the pool.


unfortunately i didn’t manage to catch her in the pool since shooting three dogs doesn’t make it possible to catch every moment of the action.  did i already use the word mayhem?

but they were all great foodhounds … er … subjects, especially in the back yard where i was able to maintain their attention …


even Marley’s closest, rapt attention …


and then it was down to the river.


and there’s no keeping a retriever out of water.




Muskoka wasn’t as crazy as the boys … rather enjoying just standing in the cool water.



and later taking a short wander into the higher grasses for some variety …





but you can never keep a retriever out of water long …




and you certainly can’t keep yourself dry for very long either …


thank you, Thompsons, for a lovely afternoon and for introducing me to your wonderful pack.  i hope you love your triple-wide gallery.  i know i haven’t made your job easy … it’s a huge gallery and my own job of narrowing down the selection certainly wasn’t an easy one.  you have some fine-looking goldens.


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  • Jay HermanHi Illona, I’m a new pet photographer based in Austin, TX and have been searching the web for fine pet photography of my peers work. I love your work! I instantly connected on multiple levels. Luv the reflections you get in their eyes and l look forward to all of your updates!!ReplyCancel

  • TeresaI truly enjoy how you capture each animal. You have a wonderful eye. I find that any subject in their environment with natural lighting is so much more interesting to view. Thank you for a “day in the life”!ReplyCancel

  • andreaa fantastic series!! i loved each and every one…your gift with a lens never ceases to amaze me!!! 🙂ReplyCancel

  • karenWell done. Well done. Well done. The 4th last is great and the head shot of marley cooling it in the water. I’m sure they will be very happy with these photos.ReplyCancel

  • MarciWOW – I haven’t been to your website in awhile! These photos of the Golden’s are fantastic (although “fantastic” isn’t quite a good enough word)! I feel like I was there with you guys on this shoot. So wonderful!ReplyCancel

  • nickLove this retreiver series! Lovely mix of action and portraits.ReplyCancel

this boy bauer

yeah, i’m behind on blog entries … in fact, i’m not even posting all my client sneak peeks.  sorry, guys.  for those of you with blogs of your own, i think you’ll understand how hard it is to keep up, especially during these late summer months leading into fall when we’re at our busiest here at scruffy dog.  i promise to try harder …

in the meantime, i have to share with you all one of my favorite clients, bauer.


if you’re thinking he looks familiar, you’d be correct.  bauer had his first shoot last winter. now it was time for some summer shots … time for wheat fields, green grass and sunsets … and the Cuz ball that bauer has coveted since i gave it to him at our last shoot … bad mommy and daddy for removing the squeaker!! 😉


camera-shy, sometimes-skittish, and terrified of skiers during our shoot last winter, bauer’s my boy.  he’s work, don’t get me wrong … a careful balance between treats and building confidence, pushing him past his fears vs. pushing too far.  this is where experience with dogs is a must, and this is where i thrill at the results … when we can be out walking on a trail and i simply call bauer’s name and he spins around to come running back to me and the scary camera where only an hour ago he was desperate to find his dad’s legs to hide behind. brave bauer.

of course, even the wheat fields seemed a little daunting for this boy at first …


but a short course of tossed-in treats quickly helped to overcome bauer’s fear of the wall of wheat, and he was diving in like a pro.



and with the high wheat conquered, enough treats to bolster him, it seemed that nothing could quash bauer’s new-found courage, even when staring down the previously terrifying lens …


in fact,  he became a downright ham.


then it was back to the playing field for some frisbee.  of course, i should have believed R.J. when he told me i needed to back up more…


so i did.  i only wish bauer had been a little more energized.  i’ve seen this boy run and leap, and that afternoon, he just didn’t seem to have much in him and i know R.J. was really after some great leap shots.  then again, none of us is getting younger.  🙂


so we took another short walk in an adjoining field for a few more shots …


caught the last of the rays …


and because he’s a shy boy, i always like to leave ’em with their tails held high … one of the last shots out of the camera …


thanks, bauer, for yet another great shoot.  you’re the grooviest little black dude i know.  and thanks Karen and R.J. for all your support over the months, and mostly for loving your boy so much.  i look forward to your studio consult.


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  • karenWe couldn’t be happier! Your photos capture Bauer perfectly. Thanks for taking the time to win him over. And you wheat field suggestion was right on. Your the best, we can’t thank you enough.ReplyCancel

  • nickAwesome location shoot 🙂 I love the second last one with the tail up ahha 😀ReplyCancel

get your free scruffy dog mini-shoot!

in keeping with our continued efforts to give back,  this year scruffy dog photography will be shooting the Kitchener-Waterloo Humane Society calendar.  this is your opportunity to win a free mini-shoot and a place in the KWHS calendar.


how cool would that be? but time is limited!  submissions have to be in by SEPTEMBER 1st.4859

so here are the GUIDELINES as posted by the K-W Humane Society on their website:

Calendar Contest
Kitchener-Waterloo Humane Society’s 1st Annual Photo Contest will consist of 30 pre-chosen photos to be voted on.
These pictures can be a themed, captioned or funny pet photo that you have taken. The top 30 submissions will be selected by the KWHS Staff and then you will be able to vote on which photo you like the best!
The top 12 pet photos will win a place in our Annual Fundraising Calendar and a private mini photo shoot with Scruffy Dog Photography (valued at $75). Dates for the photo shoot will be arranged with winners and Scruffy Dog Photography (to be completed before Nov 7th). In addition, one lucky winner will become the KWHS mascot and win an Animazing Pet Bath Package (up to a $75 value), free admission to all KWHS events in 2010, and a KWHS gift package.
Remember to submit your photos before the deadline!
Rules & Guidelines- Submitting Photos

  1. All photos must be submitted in .JPG file format via email only.
  2. All photos must be submitted to by the deadline: September 1st, 2009. Please include your name, address, phone number, pet’s name, photo description, and photo caption with your emailed submission.
  3. There is no fee to submit a photo.
  4. One photo per household/family can be submitted.
  5. Photos without vulgarities are preferred.
  6. Photos must be in landscape format and in focus.
  7. Submitted photographs become property of the Kitchener-Waterloo Humane Society (KWHS) and will not be returned. By submitting your photo, you are granting permission for the picture to be published in KWHS written, online, and media publications.
  8. Prizes will be awarded for the best entries.

Rules & Guidelines- Voting on Photos

  1. Vote for your favourite photos between September 7th and October 15th.
  2. You can vote via our website, Facebook Fan Page, or by coming into the Centre.
  3. There is no cost for voting- but donations are welcome!


so get those photos in and let’s see some fantastic faces on this year’s calendar!


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