Black dog sitting in grass, Crowsnest Pass pet photography

Where Puppy Love Grew From

As a child I was terrified of dogs, and with good reason: I had been bitten on numerous occasions, knocked off my bicycle, and grew up with no real friendly exposure to them in our house of cats. Despite my fear, I still deeply loved all animals and wanted to be closer to them.

When I was in grade 2, my mother and I would walk by our local animal shelter. One day a skinny, big nosed dog named Duke got our attention. We visited him often and he always greeted us with excitement but my mom believed we didn’t need a dog. The shelter told us they could not find anyone to adopt him because he was “too ugly,” and seeing his terribly shot profile photo in the local newspaper only exaggerated that perceived ugliness.

My mom finally caved in one day. He had been at the shelter for too many months and faced death row, and on our walks we had grown to love him. When we first let him in the house, all of my bravery I had felt with him behind the wire cages of the shelter was gone and I saw him as another monster who could bite me at any moment. I sat on our kitchen table afraid to come down and greet him while he wagged his tail at me in confusion. For the first few weeks, we set up his new home outside with a dog house. He was not to be an indoor dog.

Let me tell you, over time THINGS CHANGED. Within a year he was my best friend, my fellow adventurer, and even my bed mate! This dog I had been afraid to touch now cuddled me in bed and watched over me when I was sick. We even made him home cooked meals.

Black dog with towel and toy barbell, Crowsnest Pass pet photography

The most profound change was that he stopped being ugly. People started commenting on how adorable and irresistible he was. Our love made him beautiful.

He lived a long, happy life with us and I still miss him profoundly. He taught me that all dogs are worthy of love and not to be feared, just understood.

I am forever disappointed that I don’t have more professional quality photos of Duke, but my large framed photo of him in the grass is one of my most treasured possessions. It was taken late in his life after I started studying photography and submitted to the SPCA calendar contest. They loved it so much that they chose it for their marketing materials in their lottery that year and we had the beautiful surprise of receiving it in the mail.

I want to make sure other people can have these beautiful mementos of their own pets; our pets’ time with us is much too short, but they make such a huge impact on our lives. They truly are family members and should be cherished as such. To book this special time with your own pets, please contact me and I will give your pet a beautiful tribute!



Through my main photography company, I offer photographic services to Lethbridge, the Crowsnest Pass, and Southern Alberta and BC with a specialty in weddings and portraiture. My business started in 2008 and I have loved every minute of it!

Photography by Tanya Plonka

Animal Rescues

Duke is also a huge reason why I donate my time to photographing animals for adoption. Too many animals risk missing out on their forever homes just because they don’t have any photos that show their true potential.

I have volunteered my photography services for the following rescues. Any financial support you can offer them is always greatly appreciated to allow them to continue to help animals.

Alberta Animal Rescue Crew Society (AARCS)

Last Chance Cat Ranch Lethbridge

Lethbridge PAW Society

Windy City Canine Rescue