Paying it forward: Brutus’ story

Paying it forward: Brutus’ story

Paying it forward – for Brutus

This is not something I normally do, but every once in a while something really smacks me in the face and I think, yup, this here is an opportunity to pay it forward. You see, once upon I time, I was stretched pretty thin financially and my heart dog Samantha needed emergency surgery. I had absolutely no idea how on earth I would be able to afford the surgery but somehow the universe conspired to come to my aid. My vet took her without asking for payment up front and a couple of people came to my assistance with lifeline loans. I couldn’t have done it without their help and I’m eternally grateful.

But this isn’t about me, it’s about gorgeous Brutus! A big, lovable galoot of a Mastiff. Brutus was adopted just about a week ago from sketchy circumstances by one of the young guys who manages the farm that I live on. He and his wife were in search of a low energy, adorable pooch that would be low maintenance and grow with their young family. They went to see him and were unsettled by how thin he was and by what appeared to be an untreated eye infection.


mmmmm treats
Brutus sitting so pretty
His charms in combination with his situation made their decision a no-brainer. They wanted to get him home, love him up, put some weight on him and get that eye taken care of. Unfortunately, what they quickly discovered is that their newest family member has a serious eye condition called Entropion, where the eye lid curls in. Worse still, in Brutus’ case, the vet said that it had obviously been left untreated for several months because of the terrible condition of his eye – his cornea has ulcerated.

I can’t imagine the pain this gentle giant has experienced in recent months. But his new family is committed to him. The specialty surgeries ahead and medicines will run into the several thousands. On top of that, his right eye is showing signs of deterioration as well.

First things first, his impending surgery to repair (or possibly remove) his eye is currently quoted at $3300. October 6th is his specialist consultation. Being the ipso facto “dog lady” in these parts, Scott called me to ask if I had any ideas for how they might navigate the waters and my first thought was to start a Go Fund Me campaign. Sarah got that set up immediately and people have shown extreme kindness and generosity by donating to Brutus’ cause already.


Belly rubs are the best for Brutus

Asking a “Mastiff” favour for Brutus

I’m a firm believer in “paying it forward” so I went to meet Brutus and took some images that I hope will help to get his story out there. He is a ridiculously adorable pooch and he is clearly in love with his new family. He’s already put on weight and I know that with help he will get through this and live a long and happy life full of belly rubs. The universe has a way working magic when we most need it and I’m hoping that it will help Brutus to get all the medical attention he needs.

If you would like to help Brutus, please consider donating to his Go Fund Me campaign. Even a $5 donation can make a world of difference to a daunting bottom line. (See it’s not really that big of a favour after all!) If you already have donated, there is a special place in heaven waiting for you!

Thanks for reading this and please feel free to share the blog or directly from the Go Fund Me campaign to help raise awareness. Brutus says thank you from the bottom of his furry little heart. Yes really, that’s what the slobbery bubbles are all about. (well that, or the liver treats in my pocket!)

Brutus wants to say thank you
Barkjour: An out of this world pet photography adventure

Barkjour: An out of this world pet photography adventure

This is me, on fire

Ever since I was 6 years old I knew I wanted to work with animals in some way, shape or form. And yes, it would appear that I am a little slow, as it has taken me a lifetime to finally find a way to make that happen. This pet photography adventure was originally greeted by many as a lark and a hobby. Pfft I say, I’m happier than I’ve ever been and I’m going to live my wildest dreams.

My passion for pet photography gets stronger with each dog or cat I photograph… so too does my desire to hone my craft.

The most important investment you can make is in yourself.” – Warren Buffet

A few months ago, I had desperately wanted to apply for a pet photography retreat I learned of through a group on Facebook. It wasn’t cheap though and I couldn’t see myself raising the money. One day I noticed a post in a facebook group I belong to: Only one space left. The retreat was only 5 weeks away. Shortly after, I saw a quote by Warren Buffet, “the most important investment you can make is in yourself”. It was an “aha” moment. I decided it was time to invest in myself, big time.

Barkjour: An out of this world pet photography adventure

I applied for and was accepted to join a group of phenomenal international pet photographers in the south of France. Yes the location is exciting, but the small number of participants – just 14 – from Australia, New Zealand, England, Germany and the US appealed. The caliber of the Instructors leading the retreat was the deciding factor for me. Kaylee Greer of Dog Breath Photography. Charlotte Reeves of Charlotte Reeves Photography. Nicole Begley (I had already done one workshop with Nicole last fall) from Nicole Begley Photography. A fire ignited inside! I didn’t have a lot of time to drum up the money, but it was clearly meant to be… because I succeeded.

The first week of September, I will be soaking up 5 glorious days of learning, inspiration, hands on photography, and likely a glass of wine or two talking “shop” at night at our chateau.

Stay tuned, as I run like I’m on fire towards my wildest dreams! Au revoir!

(here are links to all of the parts of the story:  Part I – when I go to “les chiens”  | Part II – How pet photographers roll  |  Part III – Out of this world, every single day

Winery Dogs of Ontario Calendar

Winery Dogs of Ontario Calendar

My “Winery Dogs of Ontario” 2018 calendar just swooshed to the printer.

OH. MY. DOG. This has been a labour of love! A test of my stick-to-itiveness and a barometer for my level of risk aversion. This celebration of dogs in wine country has been simmering on the back burner for more than ten years, sometimes the flame even went out. I was never quite ready to take the leap. But when I launched my pet photography business in 2014, the winery dogs calendar idea naturally came percolating back up to the surface, and there it has been, bubbling away ever since.

Why a winery dogs calendar? Three reasons:

  1. I adore spending time with fur-kids. It soothes my (occasionally) savage soul.
  2. I love wine and live in the heart of Niagara’s wine country.
  3. Ontario is the last significant wine region in the new world (that I’m aware of) that is without a calendar that celebrates their magnificent canine mascots! (I know! crazy eh?)

I have to admit that my process was painfully slow – I suspect I was still dancing the edge of a knife as to whether I should do it or not. It could be hugely successful! But it could also be an expensive flop. However, one recent January morning, I woke up and thought to myself, good god woman! get your butt in gear and get this done before someone scoops you.

Full steam ahead

Time to map out my path to calendar completion. I lined up a shooting schedule to photography dogs for months I needed, determined the calendar size, designed the layout, and got quotes in. I also planned a launch/preview event to gauge interest. At the event, I pre-sold enough calendars to believe that there is actually a big old net at the bottom of the cliff I just launched myself off. (Note: all of this was accomplished with a whole lot of help from my friends, especially the launching off cliff part.)

It’s not about getting a chance… it’s about taking a chance.

Proofs will be ready for review this coming week – until then I’m on pins and needles! Excited? (um, yes… that is a serious understatement.) Suffice it to say that today marks a significant milestone in my life.

That being said, no time to stop and smell the roses, I need to start shooting for the 2019 calendar! My goal is to feature dogs from every wine region in Ontario, Niagara on the Lake, Prince Edward Country, Pelee Island, Collingwood… if you know a winery dog that should be included, please let me know!

Details, details:

The calendars are 12″x12″ and their gorgeous, glossy pages feature stunning portraits showcasing winery dogs from Niagara’s Twenty Valley wine region. As always, rescue is near and dear to my heart and a portion of the sales will go to Beamsville 4Paw Rescue and Jack Russell Terrier Rescue Ontario (JRTRO).

Currently the 2018 calendars will be available for sale at the following wineries in mid-late May:


EDITED JUNE 13, 2017: the calendar is also now available at the following locations


A big thank you goes out to Louise Engle and Meg McGrath for fanning the flames, consistently. Laurie Nadeau for all your help at the event and Carole Tothe-Gurgol of Tothe Photography for the event imagery. And to all the wineries and individuals who believed in this project enough to support it and me. I couldn’t have done it without you. You are all awesome!

Niagara Pet Photography: Saying good-bye to our pets

Niagara Pet Photography: Saying good-bye to our pets

It was a chilly Valentine’s weekend, this past weekend. One that held unexpected sadness for me. Early on Saturday morning I could see that my mountain lion of a cat Gus was definitely not feeling well. Since my vets at Grimsby Animal Hospital are open until noon on Saturdays, I quickly called to see if they could squeeze him in. They did and we went. (more…)

Toronto & Niagara Pet Photographer: Top 10 images of 2015

Toronto & Niagara Pet Photographer: Top 10 images of 2015

Happy New Year! Incredible that it’s already the beginning of another year. 2015 went by so quickly, yikes!

I think that 2016 is going to be a big year for Indigo Pet Photography. I’m off to Istanbul in February for 10 days, while there I hope to photograph street dogs and cats. With luck, I’ll also find a rescue that I can help by photographing some of their charges that are available for adoption.

This year, I’ll be adding a calendar of events to my website so that you will have plenty of notice for upcoming mini sessions and special dog events that Indigo will be a part of. I plan to join the Professional Photographers of Canada in 2016 and will aim to achieve my accreditation this year, a lofty goal… but you have to start somewhere! Also, if the dollar would only cooperate, I would like to take my photography to a new level and participate in a pet photography workshop in the States.

So I’ve been through last year’s sessions and I’ve selected 10 of my favourites images! It was tough as there were quite a few I would have liked to include, but I decided to keep it to 10.

If you are interested in booking a pet photography session, please contact me at 905.932.1042 or send me an email and I’ll get in touch with you directly. I’m happy to travel and frequently do! Hope to work with you and your best friend in this shiny, bright new year!


Meet Nuisance, she was found hanging around at Sue Ann Staff Estate Winery in Jordan and basically muscled her way in. It was a lovely warm light that she basked in and from her perch on the stool, she watch me work with the dog… with visible disdain. To me it’s like she’s channeling her inner Jimmy Cagney and her “cat”-itude was off the charts.

Matthew Benjamin stole my heart when I was photographing JRTRO foster dogs at his home north of Toronto. He was 17 at the time and unfortunately he crossed the Rainbow Bridge later last year. He was a great mentor to many foster dogs and is deeply missed by his mom and dad.

Of all the photos that I took in 2015 this one is hands down my favourite. It was a Life Well Lived session with Paikea, a 15 year old rescue. Her early life was an exceptionally sad story but once she met up with Shannon everything turned around. She even travelled across Canada three times.

The love that Shannon and Alex felt for her was palpable and I shed more than a few tears while I edited her session. She was a little fragile on the day of the shoot, but she rallied and seemed to enjoy the attention. She crossed the Rainbow Bridge a couple of months after her session. Paikea will live on in their hearts and the memories created at her session were a fitting tribute that will be cherished forever. 

Macy is a Toronto diva. Like most Havanese I’ve met, she has a lovely disposition. I love the colouring on her ears, her pink heart tag and her sweet little face. Makes me want to pinch those cheeks… or ruffle her ears anyway!

Blondes really do have more fun…this session with Lucy, a Golden Doodle, was in Beamer Park, Grimsby in the Fall. The colours were amazing and she was such a poser. The sun burst and gorgeous lighting really set this shot apart for me.

Blonde ambition. Isla was 8-weeks old when I met up with her in Toronto. We ended up in a parkette across the street and when I found the graffiti I knew that a potential great shot was in the cards. I loved the way she just stomped over Hello Kitty’s face on her quest to get to me.

Love this nightfall with moon silhouette shot of Bismark, the German Short-haired Pointer at Hidden Bench Estate Winery. This was shot late afternoon and I love the way the exposure and time of day allowed me to create a mood evocative of nightfall.

Jasmine is one of my favourite girlies. Her dad is the winemaker at Angels Gate Winery so we used that as our backdrop. She became very distracted when a bee appeared to want to steal the limelight. This was my favourite of the bee shots, it makes me smile whenever I see it.

My friend Lucy likes a little R&R and well, you just can’t beat a good bum shot, and helloooo…these paws… ♥️

Last but not least is this photo of the newest member of my pack, Lucca. He was meant to be a foster and ended up as Indy’s permanent wing man. This photo is how I see him everyday. In my face, big clownish mug, Scruffy McMuffy always ready for a game of chase, tug or fetch followed by a bowl of any one’s food that he can lay his paws on. He’s named for a place where I spent many happy years and I know that he’ll bring the same kind of happiness for many more.

So there you have it… my ten favourite portraits from 2015!