Mar 11 2013

For the past nine years I have worked at a dog daycare called Dogeden.

Here is my story of the greatest school I’ve attended.

While I was in high school I got a part time job at a very small daycare attached to a vet clinic called Hog N’ Dogs; the vet clinic had a resident pot bellied pig. Towards the end of high school, I debated what I was going to do with my life.  Everyone else was going to University, so I figured I should too.  I applied to different programs, got accepted and quit my job because I thought I’d be going to Uni. But it just didn’t feel right.  I hated school and the idea of going somewhere to read a lot and write essays and study and take exams was a nightmare.  But my friends all went.  One was studying to be a pilot, one was a history major and a bunch were working their way to become teachers.  Some stayed near home and some were across the country.  At this time I had a mild identity crisis, felt a bit like a lost soul and a failure.  I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life.

I dabbled in acting at one point.  Sorry, I should clarify that.  I dabbled in background acting.  I am in Mean Girls for 10 seconds and the back of my head is in every episode of Radio Free Roscoe Season 1, one of Toronto’s greatest pre teen shows in my opinion.  As much as I loved the fake talk acting, getting my face powdered every day and stealing snacks from the craft table, I didn’t want to do it forever.  At one point one of my extra friends told me to sign up with her talent agency AAT.  They signed me, surprisingly, and sent me to an audition.  When I showed up, the people looked at me strangely but allowed me to audition and subsequently make a fool out of myself.  I later found out that AAT stood for Asian Action Talent and the audition was for an Asian person.  I didn’t get the part.  It was then that I decided I needed to really figure out my shit.  I was only 18 but everyone else seemed to have a vague idea of what they wanted to do so I should too, right?  I handed my resume out all over town to restaurants.  Maybe I wanted to be a waitress? They make good money and it looks like fun, why not?  I got hired at a diner and after my first shift I decided to not go to the rest of my shifts and quit without telling them.  That was an asshole move, I know.  So once again, I was unemployed.   I thought long and hard about what I should do and remembered this dog daycare that I would drive by on a daily basis.  Hmmmm, I previously worked at a daycare and enjoyed it, maybe I should hand in my resume there?  So I did and I was hired a few days later.  It’s now been nine years.  NINE YEARS!  That’s a long time but I honestly can’t imagine spending the past nine years anywhere else.  Within this time I’ve gone to some different schools with the idea of possibly changing careers.  I am a graduate of the Toronto Institute of Bartending. Really Alex? That one still makes me laugh. I would win the award for Most Awkward and Timid Bartender if I followed through with it.  I also attended The Canadian School of Natural Nutrition.  How contradictory can you get?  Learning how to fix alcoholic drinks and then learning how to fix your body from the damage of said drinks.  Needless to say, I never followed through with either of those because I honestly couldn’t face leaving Dogeden and once again, it just didn’t feel right.  So I followed my gut.  I stayed and I learned, and boy did I learn.

I have learned all about dogs; the different breeds, behaviours and temperaments.  I have learned what it means to be patient, what it means to forgive and what unconditional love means.  I have learned how to communicate without using words, how to be a leader and how to gain respect.  I have learned what being present truly means and how to live in the moment. I have learned that yelling, anger and physical force gets you nowhere, but calmness, understanding and confidence does. I have learned how to block out sounds and how to ignore the most annoying behaviours.  I have learned to ignore the negative but praise the positive.  I have learned that I am better at communicating with animals and children than adults and that if I can be comfortable controlling a room of 60 dogs, I can handle anything that comes my way.

These animals are more than just dogs, they’ve been my teachers.  Some I have known the whole time, some for only a little while.  Some I have seen grow up from puppyhood and some I’ve met later in their lives.  Some I love more than anything in the world and some test my patience more than anything in the world.  But they’ve all impacted me in different ways and have taught me a lot about myself.

I truly believe that if I didn’t work here and learn what I have, I wouldn’t be the person that I am today and Wild Eyed Photography would have never happened.

Meet some of my friends.



The Sporting Group



Brittany Spaniel



Chesapeake Bay Retriever 



Golden Retriever



Labrador Retriever



Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever 


The Non-Sporting Group



American Eskimo



English Bulldog



French Bulldog



Boston Terrier






Standard Poodle

The Herding Group



Australian Shepherd 



German Shepherd



Shetland Sheepdog



Border Collie


The Toy Group



Coton de Tulear


Shih Tzu




Yorkshire Terrier



Chinese Crested Dog


The Terrier Group



Jack Russell Terrier


West Highland Terrier



Cairn Terrier



Another Jack Russell Terror, I mean Terrier


The Hound Group










The Working Group









Mo Chuisle

Portuguese Water Dog







Great Dane





Standard Schnauzer



Bernese Mountain Dog



Siberian Husky




The Mutts


 Ben I

Jack Russell + Pug = Jug



Chihuahua + Dachshund = Chiweenie



English Bulldog + Beagle = Bugle


Golden Retriever + Standard Poodle = Goldendoodle 


Mocha J

Pug + Beagle = Puggle 



English Bulldog + French Bulldog + Pug = ?



If you live or work in Markham, send your pooch to Dogeden so I can be friends with him/her!


These are all iPhone  images.



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  1. Jarvie says:

    Love the dogs!!! Can’t believe these are iPhone images. You should start a dog portrait business as well as weddings! : )

  2. Jessica says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading this story and all of your gorgeous doggy portraits! Each dog has such personality and your portraits show that so well :)

  3. This is so lovely! Made me all teary eyed! Your story and photos are beautiful. I wish we lived nearby–our pack of four dogs would love to come play :)

  4. Carly Kolbo says:

    I want to smoosh all their faces!!! Sensei looks like a boss. Love this post. :)

  5. I love your wedding photography (and really liked the baby/family photos you recently posted) – but being a major dog lover (i have 2 of mine with me in Kauai now for another month) i must say these are closely tied as my favs of yours to date. Plus i enjoyed reading a bit about you and your life. Your mom was a dear friend of mine – lost touch when they moved back east (worked together with her and your dad). When (and i guess “if”) those kids of mine decide to get married, i just may fly you out to photograph them as i think you have such talent and are very creative.

  6. krysta says:

    I think Mocha J is my favorite. So freaking adorable. And I feel like I don’t even know you after reading about your acting career. Eesh. You need to come to L.A. so I can get more juicy details! 😉

  7. Mandy says:

    alex these are amazing! such beautiful lighting, and those regal faces seem to know exactly what is going on. great job, but i hope we still see these portraits on instagram even though you’ve posted your blog!

  8. Lisa says:

    I love this project Alex! I really love how you captured the personality of these pups in these portraits. This post really made me smile.

  9. Carmen says:

    Oh my god! Such beautiful faces. I want to pet and squeeze every single one!

  10. I’m speechless and that says it all!