The Canadian Tulip Connection

The Canadian Tulip Connection

Tulips, history and photography come together

This May I was thrilled to be able to photograph dogs and also horses in the tulip fields at TASC tulip farm in Fenwick. As Canadians we have a a fascinating history with the Netherlands. If you don’t know the story of why tulips are a such big deal in Canada (and also how my dad fits in to the picture) please read on!

Following the Nazi Invasion of the Netherlands in the second world war, Princess Juliana of the Netherlands took refuge in Ottawa with her two young daughters, Princess Beatrix and Princess Irene.

While in exile, Princess Juliana gave birth to her third daughter, Princess Margriet. In order that the new princess could hold Dutch nationality exclusively, a section of the Ottawa Civic Hospital was declared Dutch soil. Ottawa also helped to celebrate the princess’ birth by flying the Dutch flag at the top of the iconic Peace Tower. Ottawa ultimately played home and safe haven to the Dutch royal family until the liberation of the Netherlands in 1945.

When she returned to the Netherlands, Princess Juliana wanted to express her gratitute to Ottawa and the Canadian people. Among several gifts – the royals sent 100,000 tulip bulbs to Ottawa. Since that time, the Dutch royal family has sent tulip bulbs to our capital every year – the gift is known as the “Tulip Legacy”.

The black and white photo below was taken on May 6, 1945, in the town of Amersfoort, a day before the war ended. Skip forward to the 50th anniversary of VE Day (Victory in Europe), in 1995. The photo appeared on the front page of an Amsterdam newspaper. Dad had never seen the photo before, but a war buddy of his mailed a copy of it to him.

That’s my dad (she says, bursting with pride), Captain John Black of the Ontario Regiment, leaning over the “Scout Car” to offer the little Dutch girls candy. With him were his driver, and an “Oranjes”, a Dutch freedom fighter (bottom right).

So in a way, this is my delayed celebration of VE Day. I wanted to share this story with you along with a photo of lovely Dutch equestrienne Roos Dystra and her stunning throroughbred gelding, Quartz, among the tulips!

Hope you enjoyed discovering this “colourful” piece of Canadian history!



senior dog looking up at camera
Five top tips for snapping pawfect pet photos!

Five top tips for snapping pawfect pet photos!

Hey there, fellow dog lovers! Do you ever marvel at how easily our four leggers can brighten the day with a wag of the tails and those puppy dogs eyes? Plus their crazy antics are fodder for those of us who are snap-happy with our smartphones. 

If you wonder why your photos are a little meh, read on to find out how you can up your game.

Here are my top five tips to help you capture snaps that that will actually impress your dog’s fan club!

1. Laying Low

Get down to their level. With dogs that means either you get low… like, ground level low – which with some dogs is realllly low. Or you get them up higher, on a bench, a rock or a log. It’s easier on the old hips and knees by a long shot, and gives a totally different perspective to your photos!

2. Treat Me Right

You can’t seriously expect your sweet pup to work for free! Instead, have a pocket of your dog’s favorite treats on hand to keep them engaged. Unless you have a Lab. In which case definitely keep the treats out of sight until afterwards LOL, unless you like slobbery photos!

3. Light is Magic

The right light can make or break your photos. Don’t snap away in harsh midday sun as it casts ugly, hard shadows – if mid day is the time you want to take photos, then look for open shade, you’ll have far better results. Soft early morning or late afternoon light are the ideal times for capturing keepers that showcase your best friend’s star power.

4. The Sunflower Principle

Think about your subject as a sunflower – girasole in Italian, turns with the sun. You want to have your pet’s face facing the direction the light is coming from! Now that you know the best light to shoot in (see tip #3), don’t stick your pup with his back to the sun and expect to see that sweet little face shine in the photo. Turn him around to face the direction the light is coming from. Even on a cloudy day, you can make this work. (Make sure you aren’t making him squint into the light though, ouch!)

5. Safety in Numbers

Ever think you got the greatest shot and then later look at it and see that your dog’s eyes are closed, doh! In the days of digital, one is never enough and it costs you nuh-thing to overshoot! Take several photos so you don’t miss the über adorable moment that always comes 2.5 seconds after you put your phone down. Trust me it’ll increase your chances of capturing that insta-worthy moment!

Bonus tip
6. Focus on what’s most important

To use a way overused expression, the eyes are the windows to the soul. This definitely applies to our fur kids too! As long as the eyes are in focus, you’re golden, you’ve got a winner. You’ll get so much more satisfaction from seeing their little personality shine through those eyes. Most smartphones allow you to tap on the screen to focus on a specific area, so make those puppy-dog eyes sing!

senior dog looking up at camera

I hope that these tips will help you to create beautiful, insta-worthy photographs while you’re out and about in dog-friendly Niagara!

Cheers and wags,


Top 10 Gifts in my 2022 Holiday Gift Guide

Top 10 Gifts in my 2022 Holiday Gift Guide

My top 10 gift ideas for dogs and their humans: the 2022 edition.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year… because I get to head out to shops and boutiques, and comb the internet for my favourite things. All in order to bring you the top ten picks for my 2022 Pawliday Gift Guide!

My goal is to find things that are predominantly local, but I found a couple of things from further afield that particularly tickled my fancy, so I shared those too!

Hold on to your toques…


1. Vineland Estates: Wine Bottle Stuffy

How fun are these Vineland Wine Bottle stuffies! With one of these, your pup can be the new whine influencer in town. 

Bonus, these are eco-friendly toys with recycled filling, and are squeaker free. A portion of sales even goes to the SPCA! Yay Vineland. 

In addition to the Wine Bottle toys, there’s lots of other dog themed merch that you can splash out on for yourself or your friends (and wine!).

Available at the winery – $19.95

2. and 3. Little Chief & Co.

I found a couple of fabulous gift items from Little Chief on St. Paul in St. Catharines. Well, truth told, I could have done the whole guide with their fun products. 

2. My go-to gifting treats are the Bocce line. They aren’t new, but dogs love them. They are soft and chewy and irresistibly good. New this year though, is this fabulous Christmas cracker packaging. All my favourite four-legged friends are drooling in anticipation!

For the naughtier dogs on your list, go for the Lumps of (delicious) Coal. But follow it up with something more positive sounding, like Figgy Pudding treats, to encourage your pups to aspire to Santa’s “Nice” list! 😉

Bocce Treats

3. The Shark Snuffle Mat, by Injoya. I got one of these for my guys. It’s sure to provide loads of mental stimulation for them in the colder months, when walks are shorter and there’s less time for sniffs. Instead, they’ll be rooting around in the mat for goodies stuffed into the folds and the shark’s teeth.

Fabulously helpful tip from knowledgeable staffer, Grace! I was worried my guys would cut to the chase and chew their way through to the treats. She suggested that I start them off by sprinkling the treats on top in plain sight. Then, gradually move them into more challenging places to snorf them out.

Lucca is at camp today, so I pulled out the mat to see how Indy would do. I can see this is going to be fun. He caught on fast, but I definitely started with Grace’s advice!

Treats range from $8.99 to $12.99
Snuffle Mat is $38.99

dog exploring snuffle mat

4. Pet Portraits by Desirea Stodart

I stumbled across local artist, Desirea Stodart’s work at Little Chief and fell in love with her work. These adorable acrylic portraits are painted from your photograph onto a wood slice. They are incredibly realistic and absolutely fabulous! It may be too late for Christmas, but this is something to definitely keep on your radar. In fact, you can follow her on instagram so you don’t forget! @desireastodartartist

I just adore these little portraits. In the new year I plan to have one painted of my heart dog, Sammy, who passed in 2012.

Contact Desirea for a quote. 

Examples of paintings by Desirea on wood slices

5. Mo’ Greens

One screaming hot day last July, I ran into a founder of Mo’Greens outside a local pet store. I had to admit, his story piqued my curiousity and I wanted to know more. Based in St. Catharines, Mo’ Greens food and treats are all Canadian sourced ingredients and produced in Toronto. They’re the first pet food company in Canada to embrace plant proteins and use them in every recipe.

For the guide, I’m focusing on their yummy, crunchy, bite size treats. They come in 3 formulas, Energize, Longevity and Calm. I buy the Calm and Longevity for the boys (because terriers are not particularly known for needing extra energy LOL). The formulas are plant based, use only 5 ingredients, and are sustainably made. Calm treats are made with Chamomile and Valerian Root to calm and soothe. Longevity contains anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory and joint supporting ingredients, cinnamon and tumeric. I use them for quick rewards and the boys love the crunch.

$10.99 a bag, available on line and in some retailers.

Examples of paintings by Desirea on wood slices

6. 2023 Winery Dogs of Ontario Calendar

Winery Dogs of Ontario Calendar

A shameless plug for my pet project. 

2023 is the fifth edition of the Winery Dogs Calendar! In case you have been under a rock, this calendar features dogs that are bosom buddies with Ontario’s winemakers, vintners, and winery top dogs – each month is guaranteed to bring a smile. 

Need a hostess gift and want to be original? The calendar is 12×12 inches with gorgeous full page images, and lots of space to write on the calendar dates. Dog friendly policies are included for each winery too. This year, a portion of proceeds are donated to Jack Russell Network Canada rescue.

Calendars are available online at They can also be purchased at the wineries listed on the website.

Calendars are $24.95 each

7. BowzerBox

I’ve often though about getting a subscription box, but didn’t want to deal with exchange and duty when ordering from the US. I did a little research and landed on BowzerBox. They’re a Canadian company and have plenty of options for shipments – that’s two big plusses in my books. 

I ordered quarterly shipments and chose the Tough Chew box for the boys. I opted to add an extra toy to each box. That way there will be no disappointed noodles on delivery day. It’ll be arriving any day now!

All treats included are made in Canada or the US, and toys are sourced in North America as well.  (Occasionally they’ll include products or toys from another country if they’re top quality). They strive to support Canadian businesses. So that makes it a home run for BowzerBox!

Different prices. I missed out on this deal, but you can save 25% off the first box with this code when getting a 3 or 6 pack: xmas2022

8. Dog Threads

Forgive me if I’m late to the Dog Threads party, but this Minneapolis company is giving me ALL the feels. Their website is packed with outrageously adorable things for your best friend to wear. And, if you are so inclined, you can match your little (or big!) buddy. I love that they are cool-looking threads, not cheap kitschy stuff.

I adore seeing people have fun with their fur friends and these matching outfits are da bomb! Everything from sweaters and hoodies to flannels, PJs and Hawaiian shirts. Best of all a portion of their sales are donated to rescues!  I’m thinking the boys and I could do matching flannel shirts, or maybe the thermal jammies, and I am not joking LOL.

Different prices. Currently 30% off sitewide. Ships internationally.

Photo is borrowed from website.

9. Modern Dog Mom

Created by a friend and fellow dogtog, Kristy Trick,  Modern Dog Mom offers specially curated, limited edition collections. They’re filled with themed activities for dog moms and their dogs. Each collection includes at least one dog friendly activity. That could be an enrichment game, outdoor adventure idea, crafts, baking, even relaxation activities!

The collections are for dog moms who’d rather share a spa day with their dog than go to a party. Fun, creative, fabulous and, sadly for us, currently only available in the US (but that may change, she’s looking into it). I’m including it here regardless, in case you have a best friend or sister in the US that you‘d love to spoil. It’s an adorable idea that any dog mom would love to receive! 

Holiday Edition Collection $69.95 US

Kristy’s pup Freddy with the fruits of his labour!

10. Canines of London

Canines of London on

If you saw any of my travel images from the UK in May, or Italy in October, you’ll recognize this photographer, Bridget Davey. She’s a hugely talented UK based pet photographer and also a good friend of mine. The images are taken all around the parks, neighbourhoods and landmarks of London. It’s a tour de force of dog photography in this ancient, dog loving city! This page turner will definitely bring a smile on a blustery winter day!

Hardcover edition: $26.99

Canines of London Book cover

I hope the guide provides you with some fresh gift giving ideas for all your four-legged friends (and their two legged companions too) this year.

From my dog house to yours, have a safe, warm, happy Christmas, filled with the pitter patter of paws. I’m truly looking foward to all that 2023 will bring. I hope, for us all, that will include health, happiness and prosperity. Merry Christmas, cheers, and wags from Karen, Indy and Lucca!

2021 is a wrap! Onwards and upwards!

2021 is a wrap! Onwards and upwards!

It’s a wrap on 2021!

What a year! But, before I recap, I want to thank all of my clients for making 2021 such an epic year!
I’m starting 2022 with this very upbeat image of Indy because I think it will be that much better than the one we just kicked to the curb LOL.
Here are a few highlights from my 2021:

It was a year in the making and delivery came in right under the wire LOL. I published my very first coffee table book, “Bed Heads and other irresistible furry faces”. It was worth all the rescheduling due to weather and pandemic concerns – we now have this fabulous record of dogs (and a couple of adorable sheep) with Covid hair, and all manner of other “doos”. I’m thrilled with the outcome and so proud of every dog, and their humans, who supported the project. The book has raised $2000 so far for local rescue Pets Alive Niagara through registration fees and book sales. $10 from each book sold goes to the rescue. It’s a limited edition printing but are still a few copies available for sale ($85 + tax for the next few days). 

Bed Heads book flanked by scruffy dog paws

The Winery Dogs of Ontario Calendar was resurrected (in no small part due to the up front support of Malivoire Wine) and raised an additional $2000 for Pet Alive Niagara! A few wineries still have copies, let me know if you did NOT get a copy and I’ll help you source one. Also let me know if you HAVE a copy and loved opening it up to Gunner from Fielding Estate Winery this morning.

Collage of 2021 Winery Dogs of Ontario

I participated in a challenge as well this year with an international group of pet photographers, this pushed me to be more adventurous and creative in my work and I had an amazing time. I managed to place in the top 20 in 8 of 12 challenges, including a few top 10s and a category win! In fact my category win of Evil the standard poodle in front of the Hard Rock sign with her skate board actually captured the attention of Drake — he had his people track her dad down to book her for a music video. I had a had in launching her career as actor and model 😁

Embark challenge submissions
2021 was a year of camaraderie with other pet photographers, even managing a few live meet ups including one with my friend Bridget Davey from the UK whom I met in 2017 at a workshop in the south of France! We had a blast in and around Niagara and Toronto doing what we do, photographing dogs LOL. These connections have all inspired me and helped me to propel my business forward in the most wonderfully positive ways!


various dog images in Toronto and NOTL

So many new puppies came into my orbit, who doesn’t live for puppy kisses and needle sharp teeth! Unfortunately, several dear four-legged friends left us as well. They each take a piece of my heart with them. It never gets easier when we lose our best friends, but we are so blessed to have had them in our lives.

I’m incredibly grateful to all of the delightful new clients that I worked with in 2021. It feels like I’ve made so many new friends. To those past clients who came for a return session with me, I can’t thank you enough for your continued support! I imagine the animals helped by the funds we raised would be most grateful to you as well!

Cheers to the new year, an opportunity to start afresh. I am hopeful that Covid will play far less of a role in our lives and that we all remain healthy, happy and enjoy good fortune. Happy New Year!


2021 Pawliday Gift Guide

2021 Pawliday Gift Guide

Okay my friends! Here it is… my first ever “curated” gift guide.

These are a few things I  discovered this past year that I think would make pawome gifts for animal lovers!  If you’re like me be sure to follow the one for you, one for me shopping rule!

These suggestions support small, local businesses. Heaven knows, the big stores can fend for themselves! If you like this idea, I’ll start earlier next year and make it a little more comprehensive! Soooo, with no further ado, let’s get this pawty started!


Olive & Co handmade collars and bandanas
Instagram: @olive_and_company

I literally have dozens of bandanas from Olive & Company. Indy and Lucca have several each and I have all different sizes for my Deck the Dogs holiday sessions.

They’re so well made, wash nicely and always look snazzy. They have oodles  of patterns that change frequently, I never have trouble finding something to match each of my guys’ individual personalities!

13th Street Winery

Be sure to go to 13th Street Winery (on 4th Avenue) and check out their retail space. It’s chock full of cute pet owners’ items including ornaments and tea towels. These tea towels clearly win the best tea towels in the world award!

I also highly recommend their Pinot Gris for an evening of lying with the pets watching Christmas movies! If you’re lucky you might score some butter tarts too!

The Meadow

I can’t wait to go here with Indy and Lucca.

The Meadow is a private rental, by-appointment, off-lead, dog exercise area on 10 acres of fully-fenced meadow land in Niagara-on-the-Lake. You can rent by the hour ($25) and you and you dog have the place to yourselves. Perfect for a reactive dog who would love to just get out and play with you. Or you and your dog’s best friends can have their own play party in the great outdoors. With a 6 foot chain link fence around the property and a 21 x 41 foot dock diving pool, this is puppy paradise.


Indy modelling with Boreal Treats

Boreal Pet Foods

Indy looooves Boreal treats. Next to freeze dried lung and liverm these are his favourites, the duck & blueberry. They are a little soft which is nice and smell divine everytime you open the bag. Boreal was born and raised locally in Beamsville and continues to branch out taking the world by storm. I really like the owners’ philosophy on pet nutrition and ingredients.

Locally Boreal products are sold at Global Pet Foods, Ruffins, Paul Mac, Maggie’s Pet Boutique and The Dog Spot to name a few!


Mutts are Limited Editions

Redemption Paws

One of my favourite t-shirts is from Toronto’s Redemption Paws, an awesome foster-based rescue that has a secondary web-site that sells merch. Apparel, accessories and drinkware are among their products, and I love the designs. The sayings rotate around through the products so my t-shirt, “Mutts are Limited Editions”, is currently on a coffee mug, but I see a new favourite on the site that I’ll be ordering!  My understanding is that proceeds go to the rescue. Can’t beat that!

Available at The Dog Spot on Main St. in Grimsby.

Carole-Ann Mercuri painstakingly hand crafts these absolutely adorable neck pieces. Bandanas for all, and bow ties for the boys but, I LOVE that she creates pieces especially for the girl canines on your list. Her little collars are the epitome of charming and the little poinsettia velcros onto a collar. It just sent me over the edge, LOL, I adore them!

Winery Dogs of Ontario 2022 cover

2022 Winery Dogs of Ontario Calendar
Available on this website and at participating wineries

The 4th edition of the Winery Dogs Calendar, featuring the companions to winemakers and vignerons at Niagara and Prince Edward County wineries! Twelve glorious months of dogs, plus dog-friendly policies of the wineries included. Lots of space to write on the dates in the calendar too. 

My stock is very low, which is awesome news, as $2 from the sale of every calendar is donated to local rescue, Pets Alive Niagara. Get yours before they’re all gone! Check the link for wineries that carry it too.

windyridge ornament
Windyridge Designs

Windyridge Designs is a family owned laser cut wood designs located right here in St. Catharines.  All designs are made with premium Baltic Birch wood. I gave several of their ornaments last year with dog names on them and they were so well received that I had to mention them here!

There are dog, cat and equine inspired pieces, well, technically there are quite a few more, but these are the only ones that interest little only animal crazy me LOL. Alas it’s too late to take advantage of their awesome products this year, but they have new designs coming out in 2022 including some for home decor!

windyridge ornament

Cards by Christine

Adorable handmade cards made by a local dog mom. Her themes run the full gamut of card sending occassions and, of course, my favourites involve animals! She does custom work as well!