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National Kids and Pets Day 2022 - April 26

"My Dog & Me" Photography Project highlights the special bond between children and the family dog

What better way is there to celebrate National Kids and Pets Day on April 26 than sharing beautiful images of children having fun with their best furry friend? These images were taken by Canadian photographer Vicky Knowler for her photography project "My Dog & Me".
The bond between child and dog is like no other. There's something about the innocence of a young pup that draws in children more than any other pet can. The child sees their dog as a best friend, someone they can play with all day long without fear of judgment or rejection.

Best friend, brother, sister, playmate, guardian, partner in crime, confidant, shoulder to cry on, listener, safe place. These are all words that describe what a dog represents to a child. There is something truly special about this bond that is unlike anything else.

The relationship between a child and their dog is filled with endless beautiful memories. In times of stress or sadness, the dog can be an ally who offers comfort when they need it most.

Their relationship is one that the world needs more of. It's a bond that can't be broken by anything other than time, as they grow up together into adults.

Through her photography project, Vicky Knowler wanted to demonstrate just how strong that bond truly is. 

I love photographing children! I love telling stories with my images. I become a child myself and get completely immersed in an imaginary world of dreams and fantasy that I remember living in as a child… when life was my playground and anything was possible.

“Remember those days? I think I’m still living in that world! For this photography project, the children are thrilled when they find out the that story is about them and their best friend! 
I truly enjoyed learning about why their dog is so special to them. There is nothing like the bond between a child and a dog. In most cases, that relationship is unbreakable. These images are a testament to the power of that love.

I hope you enjoy these images as much as I enjoyed capturing them! said Vicky.

3-year-old Declan is a lucky boy who has the best of friends, his dog Bru! They love playing tug-of-war and fetch together, but what they really enjoy are cuddles. Bru makes a great warm cuddle pillow. Declan loves feeding him his favourite treats... when he’s not bossing around his furry friend! They are the best playmates! Declan loves to play with Bru and tell him all his secrets!

When his sister was born, Ethan got a new best friend - an English Mastiff named Bessy. She loves playing fetch with her brother! But what they both seem to agree on is that tackling each other always makes for great fun too, even if Bessie wins all the time. She’s highly food motivated, so Ethan normally gets her to do what he wants! One thing is for sure, she may only be 9 months old, but it is evident that that she has already swore to protect him always.

Kensington and Hadleigh are two very well behaved and polite little girls. They love their new baby brother they got last year! They really love doing girly things with him like dancing and playing mommy & baby time. They try to get Gunnar to play teatime with them by hiding treats in the teapot. But that only last so long. Gunnar is a hoot! He just wants to have fun and jump around. "Move over ladies. it's my time to shine!!!"

Maci is living her best life!! She lives with a wonderful family on a beautiful property with barn, pond, goats, kittens and 3 outstanding brother and sisters, Avery, Allie, and James! Maci is one energetic dog who loves playing just like the kids: running around, playing ball, jumping, sledding, and playing hockey. There is so much love to go around in this family. It's clear when you meet her that she's living her best life!

Ryker's best friend is his pup, Harvey. Whenever he feels sad, the pup will hug him and cuddle up to make sure that everything is okay again. It works every time; Harvey loves it and knows he can help his best friend this way. It's a mutual need. They love to play tag together and Harvey is always it! In the summer, he chases Ryker around and tries to steal his shoes. In the winter, he will always try and steal his skates! No matter what, Ryker's best friend will always be right by his side.

Best buds!! Zoe is nine months old but already has a favourite pal! Talon and Zoe quickly fell in love when they first met. They love playing Beyblades together. Zoe goes crazy to see them spinning around! They also love building snowmen. But most of all, they enjoy drinking hot chocolate after playing in the snow.   

3 Questions with Photographer Vicky Knowler

1. If you were to choose your favourite photo from the whole "My Dog & Me" project, which one would it be and why? 


All the photos have a special meaning to me but if I had to pick only one, it would have to be the one of Maci on the ice with her 3 siblings.  I spent an hour following them around, trying to capture what they are like as individuals and how close they all are with Maci.  But it wasn’t until we got out onto frozen pond that Maci’s personality and the relationship they have truly shined through!  This photo is an exact representation of Maci’s happiness and joy of life!


2. Where was this photo project shot?


All the photos in this project were shot outdoor in Central Ontario in frigid January weather, many of them were taken in -20°C temperature. All the kids and their dogs were real troopers! For them, it didn’t matter how cold and windy it was. They got to show me their dogs and how much they loved them. The kids focused on their puppy and not themselves. I decided to shoot outdoors in January as a challenge for myself and also because I wanted to achieve the raw winter look as much as possible. Then, I edited the images to give them a soft, storybook-like feel to convey the touching story as I had imagined it.


3. In showbusiness, W.C. Fields coined the phrase ‘never work with children or animals’ as they are completely unpredictable so how did you approach this project?


Working with small children alone can be challenging. Working with dogs alone is also difficult. Having to coordinate both at the same is pretty intense! Even though I have a pre-determined idea of what I’m looking for before each shoot, I let the kids and dogs tell the story. Before each photoshoot, I interview the parents to find out what the relationship is between their dog and child. This allows me to see the story I want to share before we start. That is the most important - What is the story? I tell the kids that we are going to role play based on that story and they love it! Believe it or not: most of the dogs in my photos were not trained!

To build further on this project’s success, Vicky is organizing three fundraising My Dog & Me shoots. Partial proceeds will be donated to Oakville (April 23) and Kawartha Lakes (May 7) humane societies. 

Find all the details for My Dog & Me events here.

When is the last time you took beautiful photos of your family?

A professional family photographer will have hundreds of hours of experience of photographing families, children and babies. This means they know how to choose the best setup and arrange the family group to create poses that are both natural and photogenic!

About the Photographer

Vicky Knowler
worked in the marketing, real estate and corporate relocation sectors up until five years ago when she decided to make her passion for photography a career in order to spend more time with her children.
Vicky is now an award winning, successful, full-time family photographer, located in Kawartha Lakes, Central Ontario, Canada.

You can discover more of her photography on the website

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