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By Lillian Boyd

As a pet owner, Tiffany Dnaka knows about the special bond between a dog and human. When her friend lost his furry companion, Dnaka wanted to find a way to memorialize the beloved dog.

“I tried searching for custom art on Etsy, and I realized I could use my own creative skills to illustrate his pet in a memorable way,” Dnaka said. “I did a digital watercolor rendering and became hooked.”

It was also around the time Dnaka had lost her 17-year-old Chihuahua, Moxey—so the gift and act of artistic expression came from empathy.

Using Adobe products, original photos of pets, as well as her own personal touches, Dnaka now creates custom pet portraits through her Etsy business and sets up vendor stands where she can, including the Dana Point Farmers Market.

Tiffany Dnaka holds her rescue mix Finn with her pet portraits, including one she created of Finn and her late dog Moxey. Photo: Courtesy of Tiffany Dnaka

In August, after moving to Dana Point for a new job, Dnaka received tough news. After graduating with a master’s degree and working in her field for two years advocating for college students with special needs, her employer let her go. Now Dnaka is fully embracing the circumstances to take on her passion full-time.

“I want my art to reflect the love shared between a pet and their owner,” Dnaka said. “The first time I met Moxey was on a Father’s Day after my grandpa brought him home. I know firsthand what a dog can bring to your life. It’s special. It’s indescribable.”

Seventeen years later, Moxey passed away on Father’s Day after serving as Dnaka’s companion from elementary school to graduate school.

“It was a strange coincidence, like his life came full circle. I looked at it like Moxey was joining my grandpa in heaven. It was time for both of them to be together again,” Dnaka said. “My grandpa was a big supporter of my artwork. Losing both of them was difficult, but in following my passion, I feel like I’m honoring them.”

Dnaka is now focused on using her medium to serve and expand local clientele and potentially partner with animal-oriented nonprofits. She’s also adopted a 2-year-old rescue dog named Finn, a Miniature Pinscher-Chihuahua-terrier mix.

To view Dnaka’s artwork or to place a custom order, visit etsy.com/shop/tiffanydnaka or follow her on Instagram at @tiffany_dnaka_.

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