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

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

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?)


  • 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 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 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:

Custom Pet Portrait FAQs

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.

Getting custom artwork commissioned can be a mysterious thing. In this post in my Custom Pet Portrait series, I’ll answer common questions about the product and process.

“How does this whole process work?”

  1. You’ll start by placing your order in my shop, just like you would with any other product.
  2. After I receive the order and process payment, I’ll email you with a link to a form to fill out that covers details about your pet (these questions are listed below). This form has space for you to provide anything else you’d like to share that I didn’t already ask about. It also includes instructions for providing photos of your pet that I’ll use as a reference when creating the artwork.
  3. When you submit the information I’ve requested, I’ll follow up to let you know any questions I have or that I’m good to get started and what you can expect next.
  4. Using the information and photos you’ve provided, I make my sketches, and illustrate a digital portrait that captures your pet’s unique personality.
  5. You’ll receive a mockup of the portrait to take a look at. Hopefully you’ll love what you see, but if something isn’t sitting quite right you’ll have an opportunity to request minor changes such as fur color, markings, or expression.
  6. Once the artwork is finalized, I print it and sign it, and ship it to whatever continental U.S. mailing address you provide, whether that’s your own address or the address of someone who’s receiving it as a gift.
  7. Then you can frame it and enjoy!

“I see a lot of dogs in the examples. Can you make portraits of other animals, too?”

Yes! The portraits grew out of a customer appreciation project I worked on in 2016, and since the accessories I make are primarily for dogs it worked out that the illustrations were of dogs. But it’s certainly not limited to our canine kids — any pet you’d like an art print of will work.

“What do you need from me in order to create the portrait of my pet?”

You’ll need to supply photos of your pet and responses to the questionnaire that I’ll email you. After you place your order, I’ll email you with this questionnaire which includes instructions for submitting photos.

Good reference photos are key. When taking pictures, aim for these things:

If you don’t have digital photos of your pet (say for example your ordering a gift for someone who’s old school), but have access to printed photos and a smartphone, you can snap clear pictures of the printed photos and email them to me.

“How long does it take to get my art print?”

The timing depends in part on your availability, but here’s how it breaks down:

  • When you place your order, I’ll email you about your pet’s details and photos in 1 business day or less.
  • When you provide the necessary details and photos, you’ll get a mockup of the portrait to review within a week.
  • After I receive your feedback, you’ll receive the final art print in about 5-10 days.

So if you’re able to reply to my messages quickly, the process takes a couple of weeks. If you’re busy with life (or snuggling your pet!) it will spread the process out.

“What exactly do I get with my order?”

When you order the Custom Pet Portrait, you’ll receive a signed, unframed 8×10-inch art print. The paper is 100% cotton fiber, acid-free, and archival. There’s enough white space around the portrait to look nice with a mat, or you can simply frame it without a mat.

The final artwork I’ll create for your print is a digital file, and you may purchase this digital file for an additional $35 per portrait*. The artwork is a scalable vector file, which means that you can enlarge it without compromising quality. With this file you can do a variety of things such as print stationery items like greeting cards, order a mug with your pet on it, create a t-shirt, and many other things.

*Intended for personal use only, not for resale.

“I have more than one pet. Can you make portraits of all of them?”

For some of us, it’s hard to stop at just one pet! I totally get it. If you have more than one pet you’d like a portrait of, that option is available on the product ordering page, and the price is determined by how many you’d like to include. They can be together in one print, or separate as their own prints.

“How will you know what my pet’s unique personality is so you can create the portrait?”

After I receive your order, I’ll email you with a link to a form where I cover all of the details that help me to create the portrait. The questions covered in the form include:

  • Does the pet belong to you?
  • Is this a gift for someone else?
  • What is the type and name for each pet?
  • Breed information? (if available)
  • Would you like the pets to be portrayed individually or together? (for multiple pets option)
  • Would you like the portraits to be of their whole body, or head only?
  • What are the pet’s trademark personality traits or behaviors?
  • Anything in particular you’d like to capture in their expressions or poses?
  • Are there any accessories you’d like to include with or on them?
  • Would you like to purchase the digital artwork files of your portraits?
  • Shipping address for the art print?
  • Anything else you’d like to share?

+ instructions for submitting photos of your pet

“I’m ready! How do I start?”

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 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:

How to put those pet photos filling up your smartphone to use

custom portrait of Archie the Chi-Minpin-Chinese Crested by Oxford Dogma

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.

Custom Pet Portrait collection - Archie

Put those pet photos collecting in your smartphone album to good use!

As a loving pet parent, you get a ton of joy every time you are around your pet. And if you’re anything like me, 90% of the photos you take are of your pet.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean you want to frame the photos to hang around your house. Maybe you don’t love the quality of them (a snapshot that’s too dark, grainy, and a weird angle), or the style doesn’t quite fit with your style of decor, or there are elements you don’t want included in the frame.

A thoughtful gift for pet-crazy friends and family

I’ve found that many people want a Custom Pet Portrait as a gift for a special pet parent in their life. It’s a way to show someone you understand how much they love their furry kid without worrying about choosing the right size and color, or whether the item works with their lifestyle. It’s a personal and distinctive gift that they won’t already have. And don’t we all know people who we have such a hard time shopping for??

Custom Pet Portrait collection - Izzy

Custom Pet Portrait collection - Angie

“Angie’s posture and facial expression are perfect. I love these so much!”

— Danette, dog mom to Watson and Angie

Custom Pet Portrait collection - Zanzi

“Love these! So cute!”

— Jessica, mom to Zanzi and Archie

Custom Pet Portrait collection - Bailey

“The illustration of Bailey is my favorite picture in the house.”

— Matt, dog dad to Bailey

What you get

The Custom Pet Portrait is an entirely custom product made to order. I create the illustration based on 2–4 photos that you provide of the pet, from different angles and showing any unique characteristics you’d like to include. (read more about how the process works in this post)

Each portrait includes an 8×10 inch unframed art print, printed with archival inks on matte archival paper.

Custom Pet Portrait collection - Fiona

Doing more with your portrait: upgrade option

Interested in having other items made with your pet’s portrait? For an additional $35 per pet you can purchase the digital artwork file as well. With this file, you can order things like greeting cards or other stationary items, or accessories like a t-shirttote bag, mug, or pillow. But this is totally optional — if you’re happy to simply get the 8×10 print, there’s no need to purchase the digital file. The file will be available for purchase in the future if you change your mind so it’s not something you need to decide right away.

What makes this illustration unique

My background as a graphic designer + my penchant for subtle details and order influence my illustration style. The result is a portrait with a clean, simple, and timeless style — a bit like a classic screen print. And based on the details you provide about your pet, I translate the photos into a single iconic portrait that sums up your pet and makes you smile.

Many pet portraits are painted, with brushstrokes and expressive style, but that’s not a fit for everyone’s decor or taste. Pet parents have expressed to me that it can be hard to find other options that fit their style. So the Oxford Dogma portrait might be a good option for you if you like understated, refined, or iconic art and design.

Custom Pet Portrait collection - Watson

Custom Pet Portrait collection - Scordato-Solomon-trio

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 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:

Holiday Collection dog collars

Holiday Collection dog collars by Oxford Dogma

Recently at Jackalope, an indie artisan market, a customer asked if I had a Christmas plaid collar. Actually, a few people asked for them! So I thought it would be fun to make a small batch of collars that are good for this time of year.

Made from a couple of cozy-looking upcycled button-down shirts, these dog collars are great for that time of year between Thanksgiving and the end of the year. But since they’re more subtle and classic, there’s no reason you can’t keep it on your dog beyond the holiday season.

The first chance to shop this collection will be at Crafeteria, the annual Phoenix indie craft festival, on December 2. If there are any left after the event, they’ll be found in my shop.