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Portrait of a Corgi with his signature smile

After I had the pleasure of drawing portraits of a friend’s dogs last fall, another friend saw them and asked if I would create a portrait of her business partner’s dog, Gumby.

Rebekah wanted to give the portrait to her partner and his wife as a Christmas present, and I was so happy that she trusted me with the project. She sent a few photos of Gumby with different expressions. And she wanted to include elements of his favorite blanket (that went with him on a very special beach vacation) and the fern in their back yard that he likes to…”visit” several times a day ;)

To get started, I made sure we were on the same page with approach by creating initial sketches based on her concepts and photos.

Sketched concepts for portrait artwork of Gumby the Corgi

Rebekah picked the sketch on the left, saying that the goofy smile definitely feels like signature Gumby. 

I only took one in-progress picture of this one. It’s so fascinating to me to see how the drawings begin as flat contour sketches, and bit by bit develop into something so expressive.

in progress drawing of Gumby the Corgi

The final portrait really captures Gumby’s big smile and happy personality. And the sparkle in his eyes! I just want to give him a big bear hug. His blanket design is incorporated into the name banner, and his favorite fern frames him on the sides.

portrait of Gumby the Corgi

Rebekah had the portrait framed for gifting. I wasn’t there when she gave it to her partner and his wife, but she said they got tears in their eyes when they saw it. And they got it out again during dinner to look at it again. When she told me this story I teared up myself! It was so touching and I absolutely love that I was able to help them have a merry Christmas.

I’m so happy to be making these portraits for dog lovers! It’s something I’d like to be doing more of, so if you’d like to chat about a custom portrait of your dog, you can fill out this form:

Quirky dog portraits of a pair of beloved hounds

Last fall my friend, Libbie, saw one of my Instagram posts of Dachshund illustrations and asked if I could draw portraits of her two dogs as a Christmas gift to her wife, Lindsay.

Yes, please!

She wanted capture them in a quirky way and had fantastic concepts in mind. For Scout, their black and white hound mix with adorable spots, she wanted to reflect his aloofness by portraying him as a Frenchman with a beret and cigarette hanging out of his mouth. And for Tuck, their dark brown hound with sweet eyes, she wanted to feature a bib around his neck to reflect his food-motivated personality.

She was also hoping to include floral edging around the dogs with their names below, to frame them nicely on the paper. And with the quirky approach she was after, I recommended using hand-drawn techniques, with evidence of the imperfections and personality of the materials showing through rather than the digital look (which is more smooth and polished).

I hadn’t met her dogs before, so I loved seeing the photos she sent! I also asked if she had any favorite plants or flowers that I could consider for the frame.

 

To get started, I made sure we were on the same page with approach by creating initial sketches based on her concepts and photos.

Concept sketches of the illustration artwork for Scout and Tuck
Before moving on to the final paper and materials, I created these sketches to make sure the direction was approved.

Libbie loved the sketches and requested that I make the floral frame in a style like one of my watercolor wreaths that she spotted on my Instagram feed:

watercolor wreath

I remembered to take a few progress photos…that’s something I really want to do more of, but it’s so hard to remember!

 

I’m so happy with how the final portraits turned out. They’re made with colored pencil (all of the little fur details drawn stroke by stroke), with watercolor and gouache for the floral frame and banner. I used accent colors that would coordinate with the area of the house she wanted to hang them.

Colored pencil dog portraits of Scout and Tuck

And the best part: she was thrilled with them and couldn’t wait until Christmas to give them to her wife. Who picked right up on all of the details that we had worked so hard to include. It was an amazing project and I hope to do a lot more artwork like this!

“I love them so so much!! Gah. I’m literally so in love with these. I wouldn’t change a thing.”

Oh, and the best, best part! Lindsay pointed out an influence of Wes Anderson in them, whose classic-yet-quirky style I find so inspiring.

If you’d like to chat about a custom portrait of your dog, you can fill out this form:

Stickers featuring your pet

Custom Pet Portrait sticker sheets by Oxford Dogma

I’m excited to be offering a new companion product to the Custom Dog Portrait!

I don’t know about you, but I seem to always be out of gift tags when I’m wrapping a gift for someone. To solve this dilemma, I’ve been wanting to make my own gift tag stickers for so long. Well, earlier this year I bought a Silhouette Cameo and am able to cut out custom shapes from sticker paper. What a fun tool for a maker!

I make each sheet (7 1/2″ x 10″) of 18 stickers based on a Custom Dog Portrait, and now pet parents can have some labels with their very own fur baby on them. There are a variety of sizes and shapes, and I designed them with neutral colors so that they can be used on any occasion. In addition to gift labels, they can be used for addressing an envelope or to decorate a planner. I’m a total planner girl (Bullet Journal for me!) and would also love to design planner stickers like these.

CPP-gift-tag-stickers-product-image

If you’d like a custom portrait of your pup and matching stickers, send me a note on my contact page. I’m working on making this process easier, but in the mean time that will work best!

Safely adventuring with little dogs

Grand Tetons Yellowstone 2017 Pipsqueak and Bosco in their Adventure Harnesses

I finished the test versions of the Adventure Harness just in time for our trip to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. Bosco and Pipsqueak got tons of good use out of them! It was easy to wipe off dirt and mud, although they needed a deeper clean when we got back home.

Adventure Harnesses with leash and bag dispenser for Pipsqueak and Bosco

The harness is made from a water-resistant nylon fabric and features a cargo pocket — where we stash extra poop bags for when we accidentally run out of them in the Bag Dispenser — and clear plastic ID pocket in case you get separated from your fur baby. The strap on the back is made from reflective material, and the harness closes with sturdy hook and loop (which is like Velcro® if you’re not familiar with that term).

If your little dog could use a more rugged version of the Comfort Vest Harnessrequest a custom order in my Etsy shop and we’ll get your order in!

Designing an Adventure Harness for camping and hiking with small dogs

Pipsqueak and Bosco go adventuring along the Mogollon Rim in Arizona

We recently bought our first camper and have been taking our dogs, Pipsqueak and Bosco, with us on camping trips. They’re still getting used to the camper, but they LOVE going on walks in the woods with us!

We used their everyday harnesses for these walks but the paths are so dusty that the harnesses (and dogs) got a lot of dirt and grim embedded in them. So while relaxing around the table during a game of Gin Rummy we brainstormed how I could make a harness more compatible with outdoorsy activities. After all, the original Comfort Vest Harness is meant for city walking!

prototype of the Adventure Harness with cargo pocket and clear vinyl ID pocket
An early prototype of a Comfort Vest Harness – Adventure Edition

The features of the Adventure Harness that I’m most excited about

  • durable, waterproof fabric that’s easy to wipe off so it feels cleaner and less grimy
  • a little cargo pocket to hold some emergency poop bags
  • a pocket to hold an ID card, where the dog’s name, our contact information, and our camping location details are written in case they get separated from us

When we were packing up to leave during the last trip, we actually someone drive up and ask if we had lost an old dog. Apparently they found one in the woods and were driving around trying to locate the owner. It was incredibly thoughtful of them to do this, and I hope they were able to connect the poor dog with his mom and dad!

This experience drove home the importance of having clear ID right with the dog because even if he or she is microchipped, getting the dog to a vet to read the chip is really inconvenient if you’re in a remote location. And even if the collar tag has the owner’s phone number, there isn’t always cell service when camping.

I’m excited to get a couple of prototypes made for our dogs to see how they hold up on our next adventure! And if all goes well, I’ll be offering them for custom orders for parents of little dogs who like to go adventuring as well.

Silent ID tag for dogs that startle easily or get their claws caught

A few months after we adopted our Dachshund, Bosco, I noticed he would get his short and squatty front paw caught in his collar. It turns out, one of his toenails was getting stuck in the loop for his ID tag. I couldn’t stand to watch him limp around like that! So I came up with a simple solution: an ID tag that slips onto the collar like a sleeve.

Bosco wearing his new silent snag-free tag
Our dog’s silent dog tag that slips onto his collar prevents his toenails from getting caught in the metal loop on a traditional ID tag

It worked so much better for him and he hasn’t gotten his paw stuck up by his neck again. Plus it’s really cute to easily see his name on his collar.

I’ve made a few for a little Morkie named Maks (who you may have seen in the previous blog post about summer harnesses) in fabrics to coordinate with his handcrafted Oxford Dogma gear:

denim collar with personalized ID tag and green and navy bow tie for Maks
This classic denim collar features contrast stitching, so I continued that look with the slip-on ID tag
Maks bow tie and collar with personalized ID tag
A Ralph Lauren-inspired collar with matching silent ID tag that slips onto the collar like a sleeve

The outside features your dog’s name stitched in nice heavy thread, and the inside is printed with your contact information and optional county ID number. It’s machine washable just like the collar, and it’s best to lay flat to dry.

Each tag is made custom for you based on your collar size, dog’s name, and contact details for $12 each. If you’d like to treat your fur baby to a quiet and comfortable ID tag, simply Request a Custom Order in my Etsy shop with what you’d like made.

6 cute summer harness ideas for your small dog

When the weather warms, you want to help your small dog stay cool, while being safely held in their harness. For summer, I choose fabrics that are lighter in weight and feature brighter and lighter colors. And instead of using a double layer of fabric for the main body of the harness like in the cooler weather versions, there’s just one layer of fabric making it breath easier.

I recently finished a batch of these custom summer harness — with matching bow ties! — for a lucky little Morkie named Maks, who models one below.

Maks in his Oxford Dogma summer harness and collar with matching silent ID tag

 

“I really like the blue check fabric with the red plaid. It’s cuter than cute! I love the way you trimmed the neck with it…it’s a cute touch. Again, can’t thank you enough!!! Will be ordering more soon.”
— Missy, dog mom to Maks

 

custom Comfort Vest Harness for a small dog in red and blue plaid with matching bow tie
custom Comfort Vest Harness for a small dog in orange and white gingham with matching bow tie
custom Comfort Vest Harness for a small dog in blue plaid with matching bow tie
custom Comfort Vest Harness for a small dog in blue and yellow plaid with matching bow tie
custom Comfort Vest Harness for a small dog in blue and white seersucker with matching bow tie
custom Comfort Vest Harness for a small dog in green and navy gingham with melon pink accent

If you’d like a custom made harness sized for your small dog (under 20 lbs), you can request a custom order in my Etsy shop. Matching bow ties are also available for $10 each. Happy summer!

Celebrate National Pet Month

May is extra special for our furry friends as we celebrate all things pets!

There are lots of things you can do as a pet parent to participate:

  • share what you love most about pet ownership with your friends and family
  • support pet adoption by spreading the word of local rescue shelters or making a donation to your favorite shelter
  • take a moment each day to feel gratitude about the benefits of pets for people and people for pets
  • bring your favorite dog walker or pet nanny a goodie bag with homemade cookies or another special treat to say how much you appreciate their role in your pet’s life
  • learn more about working companion animals and see if you’d like to volunteer your time or your dog’s time, perhaps as a therapy dog

Special offer

If you’d like to show your fur kid some extra love this month, you can enjoy free standard shipping ($3.50 value) off your order from my shop between now and Wednesday, May 31, 2017.

Just use the code PETMONTH2017 when you check out.

Virtual pet hugs all around!

Classy summer fabrics for small dogs

I did a little materials shopping over the last few weeks that got me in the mood for some summer style creations.

new fabrics summer 2017

The Madras on top was intriguing to me because most of the other Madras plaid fabrics I’ve sewn with have been more pinks & purples in color. This one has a more masculine feel while still being breezy for summer. Pairing it with the light blue gingham fabric would be a fun and tasteful combination.

spring and summer 2017 fabrics for handcrafted dog accessories

I’d love to use the navy and green gingham with a coral pink and medium tan. Together they make a preppy summer set that reminds me of beachside relaxing. I think it has a Southern twist to it as well — a classy combo that Reese Witherspoon might like for her dog, Pepper!

spring and summer 2017 fabrics for handcrafted dog accessories

When I found these bright gold and orange gingham pieces I pictured the orange on my little blonde Pipsqueak, and the gold on my chocolate brown Bosco. You can’t go wrong with navy and white gingham, so I had to grab that one. And the tan and striped fabrics were a couple I had on my shelf that pair nicely with any of this set.

Can’t wait to get started on some of these projects!

Interested in a custom order?

If you see a fabric that would look great on your dog as a collar, harness, or bow tie let’s chat — you can contact me about a custom order with details about your dog’s sizing and what you’re interested in. Size adjustments to existing products are available, and there’s no additional cost for in-stock materials.

Safely walking your small dog

Pipsqueak and Bosco in their new custom harnesses by Oxford Dogma

Spring will be here before you know it! At home in Phoenix, we’re already enjoying our walks with Pipsqueak and Bosco in beautiful weather. Although this time of year always makes our allergies act up: Pipsqueak has episodes of reverse sneezing every year around this time, and I have general seasonal allergies. I learned a trick to gently blow air in the direction of her nose to help calm things down, which is typically effective. If nothing else she loves the one-on-one attention ;)

If you’ve been considering getting your small dog (20 lbs or less) a new harness, now’s a great time. The Comfort Vest Harness is custom-made to your dog’s dimensions and requires a few weeks of time for me to make it. Depending on where you live, that might be perfect timing for springtime walks with your pup!

I talk more about the design thinking behind the handcrafted Comfort Vest Harness in a previous blog post, but one of the primary things that pushed me to get it created was a request from the owner of Doolittle’s Doghouse.

Doolittle’s is a network of caring dog nannies based in Arizona. I initially met one of the nannies at a local dog event and was immediately impressed with her obvious love for dogs and ability to care for them well. And when I met the owner of Doolittle’s, Tori Levitt, I could tell that this is an organization who takes the care of their customers’ dogs to heart. She even calls herself the “Pack Leader & Canine Concierge”, which I love.

Bosco in his new harness
Bosco wearing his newest Comfort Vest Harness, handmade by Oxford Dogma (a.k.a. Mom)

Side story: It was one of the Doolittle’s nannies, Cori, who helped us find our Bosco. We had been taking Pipsqueak over to her place for playdates with a wonderful mid-sized Dachshund. This was the only dog Pipsqueak got along with. When we told Cori we were considering a brother or sister for her, she suggested a young, non-dominant, long-haired (because it may be more mellow) male Dachshund as a possible fit. And that’s exactly who we found in Bosco! 

Tori’s purpose is basically the same as Oxford Dogma’s: we live to make dogs happy, healthy, and safe. When she learned that I make accessories for dogs, the first thing she said was “Do you make harnesses?” At first I thought she was referring to the strappy, nylon webbing style of harness (which I’d struggled with on Pipsqueak), and wasn’t sure how I could contribute anything meaningful to that product. But it turns out she meant the fabric vest-style harnesses. With that little comment, I could see the possibilities and was totally inspired to get to work designing.

She writes on her blog about living with and caring for our dogs, and in this post shares recommendations for walking dogs with care:

“A simple leash is a better solution [than a retractable leash]. Add a harness for the safest way to walk your dog.”

— Tori Levitt, Doolittle’s Doghouse https://doolittlesdoghouse.com

I’m grateful for Tori’s professional input about harnesses because it helped me create a better solution both myself and other loving pet parents. The Comfort Vest Harness is a perfect fit for my collection of handcrafted products — it’s a balanced mix of function and style, with personalization mixed in.

If you’d like to place an order for a stylish, custom-sized, safe, and comfortable harness for your small dog, visit my shop and request a custom order. Please feel free to reach out with any questions! You can use my contact form or email me at amy@oxforddogma.com.