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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.

saying goodbye

most shoots are fun. some are wild. others are downright zany (stay tuned for the crazy bulldogs and pugs photos coming soon!).

but there are other shoots that i know will stay with me forever … the dog i will never forget, no matter how many wild, zany, fun or scruffy faces i meet every week as a dog photographer.  Beowulf — a.k.a. Woofie — from his Honor Session™  is, indeed, one of those incredible and utterly unforgettable souls.

Woofie’s owner called me after her boy was diagnosed with heart disease … anxious to get photos of the big guy, as well as some shots of the two of them together.  in the three hours i spent with Alma and Woofie in their back yard and on a short but splendid afternoon walk through the neighborhood, the bond these two shared was amply evident as they moved around each other with a fluidity only a married couple of many years eventually finds.

shooting Woofie was an incredible honor, but at the same time not an easy task.  i admit i cried a little on the drive down, knowing what i was getting myself into, but i managed to contain myself during the shoot.  i learned through the loss of my own boy murph that tears weren’t an option until he was gone.  besides, Beowulf was all about nobility and i was determined to capture that, to not let any sadness creep into my approach as i was working.

most of all, Woofie was a dog who reminded me of why i do what i do … the very reason i started scruffy dog photography — to capture for owners those visual memories that i don’t have of my murph.  i hope i have done justice to Woofie … that i have captured his noble spirit and his magnificence..

i received word this morning that Woofie passed peacefully in Alma’s arms at 1 a.m. this morning.  this magnificent, gentle boy was taken far too soon.  my heart goes out to Alma today … the bond between her and Woofie was extraordinarily evident and they shared a deep and tender history.

although he is gone, i still can’t speak of him in past tense.  like my murph and so many dogs before him, i can’t think of Beowulf as gone.  surely their spirits are still with us.  for me, i see murph’s spirit every day in matea and morley.  i hope one day Alma will see Woofie’s in another …

i had full intentions of seeing Woofie again — his vets originally giving him another couple of months– i’d imagined scratching that scruffy chin again, and putting my arms around that deep chest one more time.   this world is certainly far less without this wonderful creature in it, and i know that Alma’s world is definitely much emptier.  Alma, my thoughts are with you on this day, and many more days to come.

Beowulf, i know you are greatly and forever missed on this earth.

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  • Jess KampYou defienetly captured his spirit in these shots, he looks like a real gentlman. I must say it was your words that made it real, I almost cried at work.ReplyCancel

  • Susan StanfordBeautiful photos – a wonderful keepsake for his mom too. ReplyCancel

  • illonathank you, everyone, for your visits and warm comments. i hope they are of some solance to Alma.ReplyCancel

  • clairei looked at woofie’s photos with tears in my eyes and was truly moved by the compassionate way you treated his owner and how completely wonderful the pictures are.

    i lost my lurcher on valentines day this year, and he had a very similar look to woofie. i was lucky enough to be with my boy for 12 and a half years and wouldn’t change any of it.

    my thoughts go to his owner.ReplyCancel

  • SuzieThis big, sweet boy (and you illona) have inspired me to get some pictures taken of me with my cat who is dying. The last picture I have of him and I and together was over 10 years ago. I don’t know how much time I have left with him, but I want some more tangible memories while I can make/take them.

    Thank you for sharing him with us here.

    My thoughts are with Alma.ReplyCancel

  • KKARB – too sad for words; he was such a gentle, beautiful soul. Gorgeous photos that do him justice and will live forever.ReplyCancel

  • IdilThis entry made me cry. I send my deepest sympathies to this sweet dog’s owner. The photos are just wonderful to remember Beowulf by – I know she must be grieving now, but I hope one day she can smile when she looks at them.ReplyCancel

  • LizThe photos are just wonderful. His story has brought tears to my eyes, it is so hard to say goodbye, and especially when taken too soon.ReplyCancel

  • Susan StrongmanMy heart goes out to Alma at the news of Woofie’s death.
    He was a wonderful dog, so kind, soulful, and he was certainly a gentle giant.
    He always wagged his tail fiercly when he saw my children and I, and greeted us with loving eyes over our fence whenever he heard us playing outside.
    Even though he is gone, we will always remember our friend Woofie with fondness.
    Writing this note brings tears to my eyes at the thought of Alma’s pain at this time…
    Your photos are certainly beautiful, and you can be proud that you did capture the essence of Woofie’s loving spririt.
    Thomas, Audrey, Sean and myself (Susan) will miss our friend dearly.ReplyCancel

  • arturWhat a wonderful dog and sad news 🙁
    You have captured them amazingly!ReplyCancel

  • Holly Garner-JacksonAlma,
    I am so sorry to hear that you have lost your magnificent companion, Beowulf. It is never easy to lose such a friend. Though we haven’t met I can see through the photos that illona has taken, what a wonderful being he is. His essence and soul have been captured so well. I know you will cherish these last photos of him. So sorry for your loss.

  • Sarahtouching photos. you’ve captured every emotion. wonderful.

    i have done the same thing for a couple friends, i took their dogs last photos, it was hard and i teared up, but at the same time it brought me peace, and i too was honoured i was able to capture their friends in the way they wanted them remembered. i know i would want the same for any of my dogs.

    to this day they are some of my favourite photos. bitter sweet. but treasured photos.
    on my flickr, they are of Bo, Lukas and recently Sam.

    thanks for sharing these, they are truly, truly amazing.ReplyCancel

  • allison f.Gorgeous images of the gentle giant. I know that hurt of losing a lovely bearded friend too, and my heart goes out to those owners. I’m so glad you were able to get a shoot in considering how the time wasn’t as much as expected or hoped for. Beautiful dog.ReplyCancel

  • Marciyou done good. I’m sure she will cherish these gorgeous photos as much as her beautiful Woofie.ReplyCancel

  • Mariwoof.ReplyCancel

  • » saying goodbye »Digital Photography[…] Digital photography by illona […]ReplyCancel

sweet, blind fox

meet fox …

… a thirteen-year-old jack russell firecracker who divides his time between guelph and georgian bay.  formerly a wild little man, his recent blindness has slowed him down somewhat and perhaps given him a fraction more sense, but certainly not put a damper on this little guy’s spirit.

he negotiates the obstacles of his new loft condo with great skill, moving with much more caution than your typical JRT for sure, but at least not slamming into walls full force.  … and always looking to dad for direction.

it was an honor to spend some time with this brave little guy and experience the deep love and respect his owners have for him.

thanks for everything you do for this super terrier, Denis and Rachel.

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  • Allison FOh Illona…. what a sweet little guy! I love the images you’ve captured. Really gorgeous.ReplyCancel

  • Sarahthese are just so beautiful, you captured these perfect, perfect terrier photos. what a brave little 13 year old, heres to many more years!ReplyCancel

  • donnaseriously, these are AMAZING!!! i love them ALL. really some of my fave images ever.ReplyCancel

  • Pucki especially love the flat butt shots.ReplyCancel

when the scruffy dogs take a little time off

with absolutely no summer vacation this year, and not a single trip up north for our traditional forays to my childhood Georgian Bay, it was time to take a few days and let loose with the scruffies.  last week i deliberately booked no sessions (even though i could still be found at my desk tending to plenty of scruffy dog business) and took a few day trips with matea and morley to kick up our heels … hit the old logging trails that i used to ride my horses on years ago, riding for whole days along the escarpment. 

i admit, however, that my plan was a little scruffy dog’ish and built around an ulterior motive.  having added a new action lens AND a new camera body to the SDP arsenal, it was time for some heavy-duty equipment testing.  and there’s no better model on which to test an action lens than my crazy wirehaired, mud-loving matea.

from Georgian Bay, we headed over to Kettle Point, Grand Bend way.  there’s nothing like the sun reflected off the sand to give a photographer some optimal lighting situations.  and as an added bonus, i could have never anticipated morley’s joy on the sand.  i’ve never had this old man — adopted at 9 years of age — on a sand beach.  usually misery-on-four-paws when we’re at the rocky shores of Georgian Bay, on the sand he was pure joy.

we absolutely must go again.  as for matea, she has a blast no matter wherever we go …

… so we stayed as long as we could, catching some of the warm, late afternoon sun that i always encourage clients to book for.

all in all, a good and productive vacation.  the scruffies don’t realize theirs was a working-vacation … as long as they come home with dirt between their toes and dreams of bunnies (or in this case dead, beached fish) in their heads, every day is a vacation to them.

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  • illonathanks, guys.

    barb, it’s a good idea … something i need to look into.

    grace, if we lived closer to each other … we’d have to hire each other. 🙂ReplyCancel

  • GraceOh I adore your shots. If only you lived closer to me.ReplyCancel

  • JennGreat shots! Your two scruffies are the most perfect models! Guess your new action lens is working out pretty well!ReplyCancel

  • Barb LI keep coming back to look at the photo of Matea running along the wooded trail. It takes my mind back to so many wonderful days in the woods with all the dogs I’ve had the privilege to love. Have you considered offering some of the images of your own dogs for sale on this site? I for one would be very interested in that print. I can understand if you would find it too personal for other people to have some pictures of your dogs, but that image in particular has an “every dog” element of joy I sure a lot of people could relate to from their own dogs. Just a thought.ReplyCancel

  • MariI love this blog. Extra views of your photos and ways that you size them. Shouldn’t “Bark and Gardens” be calling? I admire your talent and your dedication to your craft. That is a lot of hard work, no doubt. But you make it all look so effortless. Bravo.ReplyCancel

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