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Photographer Captures The Heart & Soul Of “Perfectly Imperfect” Dogs

Growing up in the South Australia outback, Alex Cearns learned to love and care for all creatures great and small. Aside from her family’s own dogs, rabbits, horses, guinea pigs and sheep, she also helped her mother care for orphaned and injured wildlife.

As an adult, Cearns was inspired to combine her passion for animals with her love of photography.

Alex with one of her rescue dogs, Pixel.


She left her job as a police officer in 2010 to focus on photography full-time and started Houndstooth Studio, helping adoring pet parents capture the true spirit of their dogs on film. She noticed that many of the clients requesting her services were the proud owners of dogs with missing limbs, visible scars, wheelchairs and other disabilities.

 “I love every animal I have the privilege of photographing, but those perceived as ‘different’ hold a special place in my heart,” Cearns says. “These are the creatures who have lost a leg, been born without eyes, or are still showing the scars of former abuse.”

Reuben and Keisha don’t let their wheels slow them down!


Cearns was deeply touched by the fact that the dogs seemed to have no clue they were “imperfect” in any way. She began to see what their doting paw-rents saw – these dogs were stronger for their differences. They were “perfectly imperfect.”

Aryah was crushed in the womb before her birth.


Inspired by her incredible subjects, Cearns began working on her book, Perfect Imperfection: Dog Portraits Of Resilience And Love featuring many of her favorite muses. In honor of these special pups, a portion of the book’s proceeds will be donated to the Australian Animal Cancer Foundation.

The front cover features Vegemite, a 7-year-old Japanese Chin/Pekingese mix who lost his left eye when he was attacked by another dog. Despite his ordeal, Veggie is “a very happy boy,” and still loves to give high fives!

On the back cover is Bali Pip, photographed at 7-weeks-old after being rescued from the streets by the Bali Animal Welfare Association (BAWA). Poor little Pip was hairless from mange, but with the loving care of her rescuers, she became a healthy pooch with a full coat of shiny black hair!

Copies of Pip’s photo, donated by Cearns, helped raise $15,000 for BAWA!


Since founding Houndstooth Studio 11 years ago, Cearns has worked with over 100 animal rescue charities, shelters and sanctuaries all over the globe. Through her photography, she hopes to encourage love and support for animals by capturing and sharing their pure, innocent beauty.

Sweet Jakk was born with malformed front legs.


She hopes readers will take away the important messages within the pages of Perfect Imperfection

“Beauty is everywhere, the outside is only window dressing, overcoming adversity, inspiration, and that disabled pets give the same love as any other pet, they have value and they deserve the same chance to live full and happy lives.”

Bandit was the victim of an acid attack.


Check out more of Alex Cearns’ beautiful portraits below and visit her website or follow her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to see her other work, including stunning wildlife images.

To purchase your very own copy of Perfect Imperfection, click here.





Lady Bug




Thank you to Alex Cearns and all her special models for sharing their stories with us!

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Written by Dina Fantegrossi

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