Welcome to the Dog House

The best way to introduce myself is to introduce my dogs. If you were to check out my Instagram account, you’d find that about 85% of my photos of my two dogs, Sam and Finn. The dogs are such a huge part of our family, and not having any kiddos of our own yet only adds to that.

Meet Sammie, our 13-year old beautiful mutt. Don’t let the white around her eyes fool you; she hasn’t slowed down a bit. I’ve never met someone who just hasn’t fallen in love with her instantly and then threatened to take her home with them. She’s always the piece of peace in the middle of chaos.

I mean, really. It doesn't get any cuter than this.

I mean, really. It doesn’t get any cuter than this.

And then there’s Finn, a 5-year old Irish Wolfhound mix. It’s been really wonderful to see how good medical care and a loving home can transform a dog who was once so sick and sad, to a playful, healthy, gentle giant. He was quite the unknown when we brought him home, but over the past year he has carved out quite the place in my heart.

Not the easiest dog to snag a photo of, but he sure is handsome.

Not the easiest dog to snag a photo of, but he sure is handsome.

Being the mama of two furry pups, I’ve created quite the little bags of tips and tricks to pull out whenever we encounter a problem with one of them. Add in that they are rescue dogs with unsolved mysteries for background information and they have some unexplainable quirks.

As a seasoned parent may offer advice on how to keep a toddler happy, I think I’ve got some good stories and solutions to share on keeping your pup in tip top shape.

** I like to keep around a doggy first-aid kit. We mainly use it when camping, but it’s easily accessible at home as well. My kit is stored in a plastic pencil box and keeps everything contained nicely.

In my kit, we have:

–       This tick nipper that I really recommend. It is so much easier to use than regular tweezers and also nice to have one dedicated just to the dogs. In our area of VA ticks are ev.er.y.where. Sam got Lyme a couple years ago and dealing with a year’s worth of pills was not favorite.

–       A dose of tick and flea repellent just in case we need an extra.

–       Gauze and medical tape, in case they get a cut or injure a paw.

–       I don’t have Benadryl in my kit, but I need to add it ASAP. It can help a dog who is having an allergic reaction and it helps with general allergy pain. Finn has really sensitive paws due to his history, so our vet recommends giving him Benadryl whenever we notice that they’re bothering him.

–       Hand sanitizer for me to use after fixing up the dogs.

–       Other cottons like swabs, balls, etc.

–       Antibacterial cream to keep any infection clean.

Really, anything you would have in a typical first aid kit, you could have in a dog-friendly version. Well, they don’t need ibprofuen or Pepto.

It’s simple to put together, but definitely puts my mind at ease knowing I have everything they might need in case of an emergency.


** Dogs can be super expensive. We have two cats as well (indoor/outdoor types named Lexicon and Dewey Decimal), so vet bills are just part of our life. But let me recommend, your dog doesn’t always need everything that your little reminder postcard might indicate. Unless we feel there’s a problem with the dogs that we want to get checked out, we usually don’t do that “routine exam.” Obviously this is a personal preference, but we’re able to get them the necessary vaccines by scheduling only those and forgoing the vet visit.


** Sam and Finn choose weird things to stress them out. The warning signal that the battery is low from the fire alarm sends Sam into a shaking, dramatic frenzy. Sam is a pretty independent dog, but at those times, she will catapult herself into your arms until the noise stops. Obviously after my first late night run for batteries (after not being able to totally disconnect the damn fire alarm), I’m conscious of making sure that I have plenty of batteries around. I don’t cater to my dog’s every whim, but I don’t want her anxiety level any higher than it needs to be.

Finn needs access to his bed that is in my studio. If his bed is being washed or I have the door closed for some reason, he will pace the hallway until I let him in. Since he didn’t have a lot of stability in his past life, I think having “his space” is important for him. Sammie also loves her “dog caves,” basically any space around the house that she can cram her little body into. Think of under an end table, between the couch and the wall – anything like that.

What I’m getting at here, is just take note of what stresses your dog out. I try to give Sam little spaces to hide out in – we call them “dog caves” – because I know it makes her feel more secure. I make sure that Finn gets his “good morning” head scratches and knows that I’m there every morning.


Knowing that Sam and Finn feel secure and loved makes me feel like a good mama. I love that my dogs are so good with everyone we meet, playful, and are dogs that truly enrich our lives. Those moments where Sam plops her head down in my lap or when Finn acts like he hasn’t seen me in ages make all the crazy parts worth it. When people meet me, they almost immediately know about my dogs so it’s especially important to me that they show they’re well taken care of …. and I appreciate it when they’re on their best behavior.

xo, Mary Kate


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