Where’s the DOG?! What to do when your pup disappears

Where’s the DOG?! What to do when your pup disappears

Last Week was a crazy roller coaster of emotions.

I kid you not, it was awful. I spent a large portion of the week helping in the hunt for a friend’s 13-year old, Border Terrier, Lucy, in Dunnville. She went missing on Tuesday afternoon – maybe you saw some of the posts on Facebook.

With new windows being installed, Lucy got her nose out of joint and went on an unexpected walkabout. My friend didn’t clock that she’d pulled a Houdini until the early evening.

When we learned in the morning that she was missing, a group of Niagara-based friends (who also happen to be dog lovers) kicked into high gear. We combed the area, cut back undergrowth and pulled away vines from hydro poles and other bushes on the perimeter of her property. In that sweltering heat we were in jeans,  rain boots, and long sleeve shirts and doused in bug spray,  trying to get into the brush and down in the ditches to see if Lucy was hiding there, or worse, hurt. At one point, someone pointed out that I was standing in the midst of poison ivy and stinging nettles, mamma mia! It was brutal.

Despite the above, plus a failed drone attempt, and our inability to find tracker dogs, we didn’t give up. Finally, on Friday, just as we were planning a big search party, Lucy came home on her own!

This ordeal made me realize how unprepared many of us are for such situations. So, here’s a checklist to use as a resource, in the event your dog (god forbid) ever goes missing:

Pre-emptive actions:

Microchip Your Pet: Ensure your dog is microchipped and the information is up-to-date.

Keep a Clear Photo Ready: Have a recent, clear photo of your dog showing its full face and body without any people in it. This will be crucial for posters and social media.

Secure Your Dog During Home Repairs: If there’s work being done at your home, keep your dogs secured to prevent them from bolting.

Use a GPS Tracker: In rural areas, at a cottage or if you like to hike with your dog, a GPS tracker can be a lifesaver. AirTags are also an option in more populated areas. Just remember that AirTags are bluetooth trackers, not live GPS and only only compatible with Apple products. The tag has to connect to a nearby iDevice to show location. Here’s a link to an interesting article that goes through the pros and cons of both.

When you realize your dog is missing:

Organize a Search Party Immediately: Do not wait! The quicker you act, the better your chances of finding your dog. Usually dogs are found in a range of 5 square kms from their home. Start right away before they can get far.

Create and Distribute Flyers: Use your clear photo (see above) for flyers. Here’s a google doc flyer template. Keep to the basics and ask people to check around their property. (to use the template, make a copy of the file and start editing, or download in a different format). Print at least 50 -100 and give your flyer to anyone who’ll take it.

Post Flyers in Plastic Sleeves: To protect them from rain, slide flyers upside down into plastic sleeves before stapling them to poles.

Give your flyer to anyone who’ll take it: postal workers, municipal workers, delivery men, kids in the neighbourhood, grocery stores, pet stores etc. Have tape handy to post in shops and a staple gun to get them up at intersections. Put it in mailboxes around your area.

Inform Local Authorities: Let vets, the Humane Society, and SPCA know immediately, check in daily with Humane Society/SPCA.

Use Social Media: Have a point person to manage posts to Lost and Found groups on Facebook, and to keep checking comments for any info.

Seek Local Resources: Ask about available dog trackers, drone operators, and other resources.

Stay Positive: Dogs are resilient and resourceful, do not give up your you pup.

Take Care of Yourself: Remember to eat and rest, even if you don’t feel like it. You need your strength to stay focused and positive.

To sum it up – be prepared!

Having a pet go missing is a gut-wrenching experience, but being prepared can make a big difference. Keep this checklist handy and remember to act quickly, stay organized, and keep the faith. Your best friend is counting on you.

We got lucky with Lucy, I hope that you never have to go through this experience. And a quick note, she was fine, her ears were a little torn up and her paws were a bit sore, but other than that she was A-OK.

Cheers and wags,


Thanks to my awesome newsletter VIPs, I have a couple of additional tips for you!

From Krista M: Also post a large version of the flyer with a photo in front of your house. Many people who find a dog will walk or drive around the immediate area looking for someone who is searching for a dog, or someone who knows the dog.

From Rosemary C: I would also suggest to contact places that you visit with your pet. E.g. pet food stores (yes, Bruce walks to Two pet food stores and knows how to drag me there), parks, friends’ homes. Anywhere they get treats.


Top 10 Barrel Room Session Posers

Top 10 Barrel Room Session Posers

Dang these dawgs are cute!

I’m still working on my 10th Anniversary top 10 series and it wouldn’t be complete with out my Barrel Room Sessions. The Muddy Paws Wine Festival began back in 2015! I started with the Barrel Room Sessions in 2016 and never looked back. I absolutely love being in the barrel room capturing these distinctive portraits for wine loving dog lovers!

Unfortunately there was no 2020 or 2021 event, but the break gave the organizers time to refresh the event and include more wineries!

8 years later, the pawty is now called the Muddy Paws Wine Trail and consists of great wine and food, doggie games and live music that’ll have your toes tapping and your dog’s tail wagging. We’re now at Featherstone Winery, Sue-Ann Staff Esate Winery and Westcott Vineyards.

I have to say, it was tough to stop at 10! There were so many other amazing pups that I’d have loved to include. But you have to have a cut off, and mine is… eleven. LOL!

Barrel Room sessions are über popular with wine lovers who also happen to have a love affair with their dogs. Decorating your walls with your best friend is next level bragging rights! Don’t miss out, there are limited places for 2024 Barrel Room Sessions.

2016 Dexter

2017 Ariel

2018: Triggs

Collage of 2021 Winery Dogs of Ontario

2018: Logan

Embark challenge submissions

2019: Rye

various dog images in Toronto and NOTL

2019: Toffee

2022: Sherlock

2022: Gunther

2023: Clooney

2023: Cooper the Sheepadoodle

BONUS 2023: Indy and Lucca

There you have it, a selection of 11 of my favourite Barrel Room captures over the years.

I hope you enjoyed the compilation. There’s still more to come including a wacky look at outtakes! Stay tuned, and please sign up for my newsletter if you’d like all the dirt, the minute it’s dug up cool

Interested in a Barrel Room Session of your own, check it out here ›.

Let’s create something that makes your wine loving, dog-lover friends green with envy!

Photographing Pets is a Celebration of Life

Photographing Pets is a Celebration of Life

On April 16th, 2012 my heart shattered. I had to let my Sam, my heart and soul, go. It still hurts like it was yesterday. Samantha got me through the toughest times I’ve ever faced. She had a knack for making every day worth getting up for.

To say I miss her is the greatest understatement of all time. I think of her every day—how she would curl into the crook of my knee on the sofa when we’d watch TV, how she’d navigate on the console beside me in the car (I swear she rode a motorcycle in a previous life) leaning into the curves, and me.

Endearing quirks and tough times

She had the most endearing quirks. The muscles in her front legs never grew properly, so she resembled a ballerina in a perma-plié. She’d rest her front paws on her back legs when sitting, it was distinctive and adorable – and probably evened her out a little. She would tap dance for treats and that never failed to make me laugh.

Sam unfortunately had to wear the mantle of Frankendog more than once. First, after a devastating dog attack at a park in Toronto and then post surgery to remove a tumor on her thyroid. She was a trooper though, she never gave up and inspired me.

I honestly don’t know how I would have handled my own losses without her pressed close and giving me reassuring licks as I cried into her fur.

From loss to inspiration

Sam led me to Indy and to pet photography. I had tons of phone shots of her, and I even printed a bunch of them out at a big box store after she was gone – they’ve yellowed and faded now. It killed me that I rarely had broken out my camera to capture “proper” photos of her, but I never imagined she wouldn’t be there. I have no special portraits of my best girl.

A couple of months after she was gone, the house felt too quiet, and was still filled with sadness. I started looking at rescue web sites for another calm, adult female. Well, the joke was on me. Sam’s comedic timing was always good…she sent me Indy instead.

A new purpose

Indy needed me, and I needed him. He needed to build his confidence and required a whole new level of energy from me. I had to learn much more about dog behaviour to help him with his demons. He was a personality-packed, troubled, one-year-old. I had to focus all my attention on him, and I did. While he wormed his way into my heart, I felt compelled to break out the camera and capture his antics. He became my muse, and I started to up my photography game.

Preserving precious memories

Eventually, I photographed other dogs, and it felt like I was connecting with the essence of each of their souls. It was too late for me to have the portraits of Sam that I wanted, but I wondered if this could be something I could do for others… as a way to preserve that special quality of a beloved best friend.

Celebrating our heart dogs

This is why I’m so passionate about what I do. I wish I had big, beautiful portraits of the dog that stole my heart on my walls, making my heart sing every time I look at them. I’ve long since forgotten the man who broke my heart, but Sam will be with me forever.

I’d like to help you celebrate your heart dog. When you’re ready, let’s celebrate their inimitable spirit together and create memories that make your heart sing. Take a peek through my website and see the many ways we can capture this for you. Then book a discovery call and I can answer any questions you have.

Top 10 Aerodynamically Inclined: 2014-2024

Top 10 Aerodynamically Inclined: 2014-2024

Pet Photography to the The Power of Ten

We’re celebrating big time around here my friends. I can’t believe it but… 2024 is a HUGE milestone for this girl!

I’m celebrating the 10th anniversary of Indigo Pet Photography and my journey to become Niagara’s favourite pet photographer. Photographing dogs, and more recently horses, has been the most incredible experience of my life. It’s opened new doors to understanding who I am, and introduced me to amazing new friends. I adore every pet that has honoured me with their presence over the years and am grateful that their humans chose me to capture their spirit.

I am kicking the pawty off with a series of blogs featuring a Top 10 category, 10 years, top 10, get it? Choosing just 10 images is insanely difficult, as every session is so unique and fun, but here we go. Ten of my favourites action images from 2014 to 2024. Buckle up and prepare to be launched into the world of the Aerodynamically Inclined.

2014: Angus, The Great Dane

Such a gorgeous soul he was. So handsome and sweet. He and his mom and I went to Port Dalhousie and had a blast on the beach and the pier on a gorgeous fall evening.

Sadly Angus crossed the rainbow bridge not long after our second photo session, 7 years later, in 2021. I’m so thankful his mom and dad have their Storyboards and prints to keep their gentle giant’s spirit alive.

2015: Lucca , my Texas Mystery Mix

Okay I just had to include my Lucca in this list, I love this photo. He had just come to me as a foster from Texas through Jack Russell Terrier Rescue Ontario, and I caved in in a matter of days and adopted him.

He came with the name Astro, which was cute, but I wanted the happiest dog I ever met to be named after my happy place. (Lucca is a town in Tuscany that I spent 7 years travelling back and forth to. My passion for photography was ignited there.) Once I saw this bouncy scruffy puppy, I knew he wasn’t going anywhere.

I took this photo probably a week after he arrived, you can see that he was loving his new life. I left Indy in the background because it has meaning to me that he be there. He really was flying around that day and this one really captures his aerodynamic qualities best.

Collage of 2021 Winery Dogs of Ontario

2016: Versace the Viszla

Beautiful Versace has really pale colouring for a Viszla, which makes her extra special. This girl comes from Chicago to Canada with her family each year for their holidays. She had a Barrel Room session one year and we had another Signature Session with her 2 little humans in 2022.

This shot of her running across the little bridge over the pond up by the escarpment reminds me how full of personality she is. It might have been a hot summer day, but we had a lot of fun.

From the oodles of images we captured at Cave Spring Vineyard, Her family now have a beautiful Storybook to remember the day by. I love catching up with her antics (mostly snoozing now) on Instagram! 

Embark challenge submissions

2017: Millie the Basset Hound

We had a fabulous evening for this session with Millie. We were somewhere out near Paris, at the farm where she lived. The skies were dark and menacing to the north but the sun was setting beautifully in the west and the light was truly epic.

The corn had recently been cut down and Millie started to collect stalks and bring them back to us. She was amazing! I loved the images that we got really showing off her sassy personality and sweet demeanour.

various dog images in Toronto and NOTL

2018: Beatrice the Mini Sausage… er Dachshund!

Beatrice and her brother Otis were a last minute booking before Christmas in 2018. This shot of Beatrice hydroplaning through the air makes me smile every single time I look at it. The ears, the flower she wore and those little feets reaching out ahead. She nailed it.

My very first dog (I was 5 when I got her) was a dachshund, so they hold a special place in my heart. I’ll tell you this much though, my little Fritzy never pulled off a move like this one!

2019: Walter the Springer Spaniel

I loved working with Walter in the Blossoms. I got some fabulous photos of him and his humans as well as fun ones, like this where he’s rocketing. He’s got tongue out Tuesday down pat.

Sadly a lot of the peach trees have been cut down now, and it’s challenging to connect with a farmer who’ll agree to let you use their orchard. I’m partial to the pink peach blossom but they are really tough to find! If you know any peach farmers that will let me have sessions in their orchard, I’m all ears!

2020: Sophie and Samson the International Shelties

This one takes me back to Covid. Yikes, what a time that was. Fortunately I was able to have sessions in the great outdoors and use my long lens to keep the required distance that we were told we needed.

This shot is so memorable for me. Tammy and I became friends and would get together for wine and dinner down in Port Dalhousie every so often. But not long after her photo session Tammy up and moved, lock, stock and barrel to Lisbon, Portugal with her two shelties, Samson and Sophie. Talk about ballsie!

I had the opportunity to visit with them in 2022 when I visited Lisbon for a day. More on that later!  Alas, Samson passed away last year at 16 years old. He enjoyed the royal treatment being pushed in his stroller through Lisbon and The Algarve to the delight of all who saw them.

I loved capturing the joy Tammy and her pups felt that day in the vineyard and we created some gorgeous wall art memories for her.

2022: Rosie the Rescue Jack Russell Mix

Rosie was one of the pups featured in my Hardcover book called “Bedheads and other irresistible scruffy faces”. This might give you an idea why. She sports the wildest doo and has sassy down to a fine art.

Amazing to think this little rescue almost never made it. She required open heart surgery when she came in to the shelter and thankfully Jack Russell Network Canada sponsored her and covered her surgery. She’s all that and a bag o’ chips.

She and her brother Billy came all the way from Toronto for their photo session in Beamsville, and I’m so glad they did. 

2023: Evil (aka Paragon’s Queen of Darkness) the name says it all

I simply could not end this list without this image of Evil in the Tulips at TASC Tulip Farm last year. We were there at sunrise, hoping to capture amazing photos of her amongst the beautiful blooms.

Evil is an extremely well trained girl, but every so often you reach “that” point, when all bets are off, she loses all common sense, and epic zoomies prevail. She’d had one of those prior to this shot and managed to face plant and slide through the dust and dirt on her face and shoulder, she’s a nut haha. We cleaned her off best we could and carried on, as one does!

I won a bronze medal with this photo in the 2023 International Pet Photographer of the Year awards, in the Action Category! Thanks Rob and Evil for another wild and crazy session!

P.S. here’s a link to a page with details about the 2024 Flower Power Tulip Sessions

There you have it, a selection of 10 of my favourite action shots from the last decade.

Like I said before, it was really tough to narrow this down, especially to one per year! But it’s a fun assortment and I hope you enjoyed it. There’s lots more to come including a wacky look at outtakes! Stay tuned, and please sign up for my newsletter if you’d like all the good dirt, the minute it’s dug up cool

If you’re interested in a session of your own, please explore my website and book a no-obligation consultation call. Let’s create something memorable for you and your best friend – be they dog or horse!

Saddle Up for a Literary Ride: My 7 Must Reads for Niagara’s Dog and Horse Lovers

Saddle Up for a Literary Ride: My 7 Must Reads for Niagara’s Dog and Horse Lovers

Welcome to the end of 2023! Man that went fast, didn’t it?

Once the Christmas madness is over, you deserve to take some time for yourself and relax. Any of these books would be an excellent excuse to curl up with your best friend over the winter.

It’s an eclectic collection of books that have stuck in my brain from years gone by, are recommendations from friends and clients, and even a recent random find that will be my holiday read, as I put the camera down and take a little break! When the new year starts I want to be refreshed and ready to capture pet portraits for Niagara dogs, equines and their humans!

1. The Art of Racing in the Rain
Written by Garth Stein. An all time great storyline  that is both gut wrenching and uplifting. Told through the eyes of an aging dog named Enzo, telling the story of his life with an up and coming race car driver. I read it a number of years ago and have decided to get another copy and read it again… it was that good.
2. Waiting for Gertrude
Written by Stephen Leacock “Medal for Humour”  winning Canadian author Bill Richardson. Truly delightful, it’s set in Paris’s famed cemetery “Père-Lachaise Cemetery” the final resting place of many famous artists including Maria Callas, Jim Morrison and Proust. The twist in the story is that the feral cats in the cemetery have been inhabited by the spirits of the souls interred there. It’s  charming and fun.
3. Horse Brain, Human Brain: The Neuroscience Of Horsemanship
This book is a real eye-opener, written by brain scientist and horsewoman, Janet L. Jones. The book shines a light on how horses think, feel and perceive, and explains how to work WITH your horse’s brain instead of against it. So much to learn. I’ve got this on audio book but would love to get the hard copy  as well. This book comes highly recommended by a number of horsewomen in my world, and me!
Available at Chapters Indigo  and I spied a copy at Beamville Greenhawk too! 
4. All Creatures Great and Small
I absolutely adore the series on PBS and it got me remembering how much joy these books brought me when I was young. I voraciously read each and every one. They were surprising, funny, charming and heartwarming. The perfect gift for any person, young or old, enamoured with our four-legged friends. I highly recommend these beautiful stories, from a time gone by!
5. Sea Biscuit. An American Legend.

Lauren Hillebrand documents the story of a onetime bicycle repairman who becomes an overnight millionaire, hires as his trainer – a mysterious mustang breaker from the Colorado plains – and purchases Seabiscuit for a bargain-basement price. The trainer hires as a jockey, a failed boxer who was blind in one eye, half-crippled, and prone to quoting passages from Ralph Waldo Emerson. I mean, what could go wrong? Or what could go right! It’s an incredible story of ups and downs to legendary.

Seabiscuit an American Legend, book cover
6. The Eighty-Dollar Champion: Snowman, The Horse That Inspired a Nation

Elizabeth Letts tells the legendary story involving what could be categorized as misfits!  Against all odds and some of the most expensive thoroughbreds alive, a horse rescued from a truck heading to the slaughterhouse, and a Dutch immigrant ascended to the apex of the sport of show jumping. This one was emphatically recommended to me by one of my equine portrait clients.

Available at Chapters Indigo , at Greenhawk Beamsville, as well as Amazon
The Eighty Dollar Champion book cover
7. Lily and the Octopus

My winter read is Lily and the Octopus by Stephen Rowley. I was sold by this review by the Washing Post: A national bestseller combining the emotional depth of The Art of Racing in the Rain with the magical spirit of The Life of Pi, “Lily and the Octopus is the dog book you must read this summer”. I’m looking forward to curling up with the boys by the Christmas tree and diving in over the holidays!

The Eighty Dollar Champion book cover

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the books, and please let me know some of your favourites too, I’m always looking for another good read!

Cheers and wags,