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scruffy dog’s 2014 Holiday Tribute Gift ~ {Ontario pet photographer, giving back}

as 2014 fades in my rear-view and a shiny new year lies ahead, it’s high time i make some decisions on the annual scruffy dog Holiday Tribute Session Gift so that those who have generously given their time to nominate these deserving individuals are able to pass on their goodwill.

we received a bounty of touching and heart-felt nominations, making the decision excruciatingly difficult. many times i teared up while reading each submission, and to be completely honest, i would love to offer every single one of the nominees a session.  sadly, however, the SDP schedule won’t allow for this kind of output.  still, instead of choosing the promised one recipient of the SDP Holiday Tribute Gift, i have once again ended up choosing multiple recipients … and even then, it was no easy decision!

as i said, i only wish my schedule, my energy and my health would allow me to grant sessions for everyone nominated.  i highly encourage those for whom i can’t offer a session to send the amazing words from your submission to the person you so graciously and passionately nominated this holiday season. i know they will cherish them.

Dec hike 2014-75

so, without further ado, and in no particular order, from the mcscruffies and me, here are the recipients of SDP’s 2014 Holiday Tribute Gift…


 first up we have Margaret Blackman, who is part of Tiny Paws Dog Rescue, nominated by Yvonne Richard.  having been loosely involved with Helping Homeless Pets since its early days, i am certainly familiar with Margaret’s name and her involvement in rescue.

in Yvonne’s words:  “Margaret has been fostering the most vulnerable little dogs: disabled ones.  She is very involved with Tiny Paws Dog Rescue, traveling to Montreal and probably other places regularly, never counting her time and efforts.  Here is a story with a bit about her and something she wrote about her foster: ”


it would be my honor to work with you, Margaret, to capture some photographic memories of your wheely-girl Heidi.


sometimes a nomination isn’t just about the magnitude of what a nominee has done, like Margaret with Tiny Paws Dog Rescue … sometimes it’s a nominee’s story that touches me (although it’s an understatement when i say they all touch me).

in this case, Polina Radtchenko‘s nomination of her husband Stas and his standard poodle Archie made me have to meet this couple and their amazing boy who has spent a lifetime battling epilepsy.  with Archie’s epilepsy taking a toll as he gets older now, with increasing seizures, blindness in one eye, and organs struggling with the barrage of epilepsy meds, i feel a great urgency in regards to meeting this very important and life-loving boy with the scruffy dog cameras in order to capture some stellar memories for Stas.

in Polina’s words:

“Archie was very loved by Stas’s father. They had a special bond, sharing everything and having lots of playtime. But on a rainy day in 2011, that all changed after a tragic accident on the road. Stas’s father never returned home since that night. After weeks, Archie stopped waiting at the door. He became closer than ever with Stas, because he reminded him the most of his father.

… We have been fans of SDP for a while. Before Stas’s father passed, we reminisced that it would be a great gift for him and Archie. Sadly, we didn’t make it in time. Even though Archie’s spirits are high, the illness does take its toll, as he began showing signs of aging earlier than a normal pooch. He is almost blind in one eye and his kidney is doing it’s best to deal with the meds.  That is why Scruffy Dog Photography would be a very special gift for Stas, Archie and his family this Christmas. Even that would be an understatement!”

photography by

photography by

i would love to meet Archie … and Stas and Polina … and create some fabulous photographic memories of this much-loved dog.


and finally, i would love to meet Julia and Lisa DeZoete  who run a Barrie-based rescue called Finding Them Homes, and their dog Oakley (and/or their other rescued dogs Jax and Winston … nominated by Diane Holmes of My Dog Rocks.  according to Diane, these twins are a force to be reckoned with … having brought over 400 dogs from Northern reservations and finding them deserving and permanent homes in just over two years!

in Diane’s words:  “They liase with people in the northern communities, help to find transport, secure foster homes, and then work to get the dogs adopted – and every potential adopter has a home visit. So it is no small task to coordinate all of this. These ladies both have full time jobs, do fundraising for the rescue as often the dogs come down injured and need more involved vet care. They make sure that every dog is vetted, vaccinated and microchipped, and fixed if they are over 6 months. Their adoptions fees cover the vet bills, as they will not charge more to make money. Donations are always appreciated, and these donations go to help the dogs that need more vet care – demodex is very common, as are injuries from being hit by cars.

…  These ladies spend so much time giving that they take no time for themselves. I can’t imagine how gut wrenching it is to run a rescue and all of the things they have to deal with, but these girls do it with class. They do get donations of food, crates, etc, but I also know that these girls spend some of their own money on the rescue to do what’s best for the dogs.

A photo session isn’t something that they would ever get for themselves, but the special photos of their dogs from Scruffy Dog would mean so much to them. They would absolutely love a photo session with their dogs, and I think they deserve it!”

oakley tribute

i would love to meet this amazing duo behind Finding Them Homes, as well as Oakley, and Jax and Winston as well if they choose.




i hope these stories have touched you as much as they did me, and perhaps inspire you to consider nominating someone deserving for next year!  i am very much looking forward to meeting this year’s recipients and their 4-leggers … or in Heidi’s case, wheeled-wonders!  as described in the original Holiday Tribute Gift announcement, please know that the SDP Holiday Tribute Gift is a scruffy dog Fine Focus session, and will be shot here in the Kitchener-Waterloo area in one of our awesome locations … however, your session can be upgraded and/or travel can be purchased. it is intended for one animal, but adding animals is always possible. ALSO, because of SDP’s intense shooting schedule, these sessions should be booked soon, as they need to be shot this year before September (when the heavy fall shooting commences).

again, i hope you can appreciate that choosing the recipients of the SDP Holiday Tribute Gift(s) was not an easy task.  let me wish a prosperous and healthy new year to all those who took the time to write their incredible and passionate nominations … and to those who were nominated, giving selflessly to their companion animals, the pet community, rescue, and every other aspect.

thank you, ALL!

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  • Holly Garner-JacksonAll very deserving winners. You are so very generous, illona. Giving back is so very important and you do it with style and grace.ReplyCancel

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