Blog

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.

Upgrading your Custom Pet Portrait with the digital artwork file

This post is a part of Custom Pet Portrait series, where I share an in-depth look and answer questions. The rest of the posts are linked at the end of this post.


In this Custom Pet Portraits blog series, I’ve shared some portraits of super cute dogs, answered frequently asked questions about ordering a portrait, and explained how I create them so that they capture the unique personality of each pet.

In this post, I want to show some of the other things that you could do with your pet’s portrait if you purchase the digital artwork file as well.

custom pet portrait product roundup

Digital artwork files explained

First, you may be thinking, “What is this ‘digital artwork file’?” Basically it’s the computer image I create of your pet. When you place your order, it automatically includes an 8×10 art print shipped to you. The digital artwork file is the file I create so that art print can be made.

I explain more about this file type in the previous post about my process. But to recap, it’s a type of file that can be scaled up or down without losing quality, making it versatile and applicable to lots of different uses besides the art print.

This digital artwork file is created for every order whether or not you’d like to upgrade your order to include it for yourself. So really there’s no pressure for you to buy it right away because I’ll always have it in my files.

The price to upgrade

If you’d like to purchase this digital artwork file, the cost is $35 per pet. Or, if you’ve opted to have multiple pets illustrated on the same page, it’s just $35 for the group as one image.

This upgrade allows you to use the illustration however you’d like. However, it doesn’t give you exclusive rights. As the creator, Oxford Dogma also retains the rights to use the artwork in marketing communications and printed pet products.

So what could you do with the digital file of your pet’s portrait?

An art print makes a thoughtful personalized gift for a pet lover, but there are a lot of other ways the illustration can be used.

Home accessories:

  • kitchen towel (I received a couple of kitchen towels recently with dog artwork on them and they add a special, personal touch to my kitchen)
  • napkins (Thinking of having a birthday party for your dog? This would be perfect!)
  • food or water bowl for your dog (No question whose bowl it is.)
  • mug
  • pillow (Your dog owns the couch anyway, right?)

Stationery:

  • notepad (Jotting notes gets a lot more fun with your pet’s illustration on each page)
  • greeting cards

Clothing and accessories:

custom pet portrait desktop wallpaper

And some things don’t cost any extra aside from the upgrade price:

  • desktop wallpaper
  • social media profile image (Does your dog have an Instagram account? You could use the illustration for the profile image!)

How to order your own Custom Pet Portrait

Do you know someone who’d love to receive a custom-illustrated art print of their pet? (Or is that someone you??) Send me a note with the form on my contact page and I’ll follow up with next steps.

And if you have any questions, please let me know! You can email me at amy@oxforddogma.com or fill out my contact form.

Want to read more about the Custom Pet Portrait? The other posts in this series can be found here:

A look at the Custom Pet Portrait creation process

sketching process for custom pet portrait of Archie the Chi mix


This post is a part of Custom Pet Portrait series, where I share an in-depth look and answer questions. The rest of the posts are linked at the end of this post.


Each Oxford Dogma Pet Portrait is custom made to order, meaning I have a process that I use to fulfill the order but each one is treated individually, with care. And I know it’s totally worth the care that goes into them when I get a response like this:

“I am obsessed with these. You nailed their expressions perfectly. I am amazed at how much personality you can see in these!”

—Danette, dog mom to Watson and Angie

Step 1: Gather the source images

Because I really want each illustration to reflect the unique personality of each pet, the project begins with you answering questions about your pet and sending me photos for visual reference. The photos show me things like the way your pet sits or stands, their facial expressions, coat and coloring, and even a special accessory or toy.

Step 2: Getting to know your pet

I start by spending some time looking over each photo and making notes about the key things the pet parent wants to incorporate. For example, some of the requests that people have made include:

  • the look their dog gives people when they walk by
  • their dog’s favorite chew toy
  • a signature collar
  • strawberries, to reference the way a dog likes to watch her parents garden

I also make note of key characteristics that the breed might have. My portraits are a clean and simple style, so picking up on iconic features allows me to simplify while still communicating the important traits.

Step 3: Sketching it out

Then I begin making pencil sketches of the pet. Even though the final artwork is a digital illustration, the sketching step helps me gain a deeper understanding of the lines of the pet and their physical character.

After I have enough sketches to draw from (usually 3-5), I snap pictures of the sketches and bring them into Adobe Illustrator.

Step 4: Digitizing the illustration

Here’s where I turn it into a clean, vector illustration. (Vector just means that it’s infinitely scalable without losing quality. As opposed to “raster” which is what you’d get if you had a .jpg or .png, and if you stretch them up in size they look grainy and uneven.) I love the powerful drawing tools in Illustrator and the flexibility of resizing the image without worry.

While drawing the illustration on the computer, I personalize it with colors picked up from the photos and add in the additional elements such as a collar or pillow. Since I have so much experience using this software (more than twenty years!) I’m able to express those little details that help make each portrait unique to the particular pet. For one dog, she had a collar with a particularly detailed pattern on it, and my familiarity with the software made it a piece of cake to create.

Step 5: Taking a final look

Once I’m happy with the illustration, I create a framed mockup image of it so you can see how it might actually look hung on a wall with a mat and frame. It can be really hard to mentally make that jump from computer screen to final printed product, so this step helps you see it in context rather than just a plain image on your screen.

This framed mockup is sent to the customer before creating the final art print. Because of my graphic design background, I tend to see a project like this as the intersection between art and design. So I like to give customers the opportunity to have a look at the artwork before making the final art print. Pet parents know their fur babies so well, and I would hate to accidentally miss one of those key characteristics they see in them! Typically there’s either no change needed, or something minor like a change to a color or an adjustment to a feature on the pet.

Step 6: The art print

Currently I use Society6 for printing the 8×10 art print. Their quality is fantastic and they use archival inks and papers. I place the order for the print and it’s delivered straight to whatever U.S. mailing address you provide.

Update: I’m excited to say that I’m now able to print these in-house! You’ll still get the archival inks and paper, but some time will be shaved off. And I’ll be able to sign each one, so you’ll get a print signed by the artist which adds to the art quality of them.

And if you choose to purchase the digital artwork file as a part of your order, you can use your choice of printing service to order accessories with your pet’s image.

The process I use to get to the final portrait has been very effective — the response is overwhelmingly positive, which is immensely satisfying as a creator! I’m so happy that people love their portraits. And one thing I wasn’t expecting when I added this item to my shop is how much people like giving them as gifts to family, friends, and clients. Being able to help them say “I know how much you love your pet!” is really special.

“This is SO cute! You really captured her perfectly. I love the blanket, the bully stick, the collar…it’s so Izzy!”

— Shaina, dog aunt to Izzy

Ordering your own Custom Pet Portrait

Do you know someone who’d love to receive a custom-illustrated art print of their pet? (Or is that someone you??) Send me a note with the form on my contact page and I’ll follow up with next steps.

And if you have any questions, please let me know! You can email me at amy@oxforddogma.com or fill out my contact form.


Want to read more about the Custom Pet Portrait? The other posts in this series can be found here: