Posted 2 months ago
(Image: Mackenzie Makatche/SWNS)
By Zoe Hu
These nine Newfoundlands wear fancy dress every season and have become celebrities after receiving more than 6.9 million likes for their quirky videos on TikTok.
Mackenzie Makatche, 30, dresses up her hounds – which she calls the Newf Crew – in different costumes throughout the year, including hats with bunny ears for Easter, heart-shaped sunglasses for Valentine’s Day and festive capes and hats for Christmas.
The eldest of her dogs, Guinness Fynn, 11, came to the family in 2010 when Mackenzie was leaving to study Communication Sciences and Disorders at Penn State University in Pennsylvania.
The family came to adopt Murphy, and then seven more after, before ending up with a pack of nine dogs: Guiness Fynn, 11, Murphy, 9, Storm, 6, Skyy, 6, Aisling, 5, Oliver, 5, Belle, 5, Duncan, 3, and Betty, 5 months.
Mackenzie, a full-time dog mum, from Glen Mills, Pennsylvania, US, said: “We are dog mad – we love our pack of hounds. Dressing them up and posing them for photos is always so much fun – but not as easy as you might think. I have posted all of the pictures I've taken of them online and they've gained a real following. I love that others are loving my pups as much as I do – they don't realise they're A-listers. As long as they're getting their favourite treats, belly rubs and a good walk - they're happy - no divas here."
Mackenzie with one of her nine dogs (Image: Mackenzie Makatche/SWNS)
Mackenzie and her family have always loved dogs. She said: "We've had eight Cavalier King Charles Spaniels over the years but my mum, Diedre, 58, and I both wanted a bigger dog – so we got Guinness as a puppy, the first one of the crew.
“Our second dog, Murphy, came along because my mum really wanted a boy and for my parents’ wedding anniversary, I convinced my dad, Wayne, 67, to get her that boy. My dad got cold feet right before so in the end my mum and I drove together and picked up Murphy from a breeder in November 2011."
Mackenzie said it was never her plan to get nine dogs but it spiralled after that. She had Storm, delivered and named by her fiancé, TJ Czapp, 29, ER/trauma nurse. Then she had Skyy, named after her mum’s favourite vodka, Aisling, Oliver and Belle.
“Duncan was the last dog my mum and I got together. My dad didn’t know and we kind of just stacked him in," she said.
“My mum said to me: ‘Just act natural, pretend you are dog sitting.’ In a couple weeks my dad asked: ‘Where did this one come from?’”
In 2016, Mackenzie’s mum decided that she really wanted to train her dogs to deliver therapy, but she was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer later that year. Mackenzie quit her job and became her mum’s carer and took her and the dogs to therapy training classes.
“It was 2018, a month after we got Duncan, my mum passed away. I continued taking him to training and it kind of gave me something to do," she said. “Going to training has been my way to work through the grief. Having all of these dogs definitely helped me stay connected with my mum and I want to help fulfil what she started.”
Five of her dogs have completed training and due to Covid restrictions, she couldn’t take the others to classes, but she has been training them on her own, using the tips and tricks she had learned previously.
Mackenzie started dressing up her dogs to take photos in 2015. She put some T-shirts on them and took a picture on St Patrick’s Day, then the tradition began.
The dogs enjoying Christmas festivities (Image: Mackenzie Makatche/SWNS)
She has been selling calendars with these snaps and lots of people are now requesting postcards.
Many say that they find it impressive how she manages to keep them posed in their positions.
“When setting them up, you kind of have to get used to things like who likes who, which dogs like to tease the other ones," Mackenzie said. “For example, Oliver is our smallest boy and has like a ‘little man complex’ so we won’t put him next to the bigger boys. They start to get what we are doing and almost get into position themselves.
"We just took a fourth of July picture, I was setting up the other dogs and Skyy came over and sat at her patio chair. I was like: ‘This is perfect, you stay right there.’
“My favourite holiday to do is probably Halloween because you have a lot of flexibility. You can pick a different costume every time and we did Harry Potter this year. It was really fun.
“My mum loved the holiday photos and whenever I take one, I imagine showing it to her and I can almost hear her laugh. That makes me happy.”
The dogs live in the family garage and have their own crates but they can be found around the house most of the time.
“They spend a lot of time outside when the weather is nice. I rotate them in bed with me every night, so they all get a turn," she said. “A lot of them really like their crates. We have this ‘night night cookie routine’ where I give them cookies before bedtime and say goodnight to them.”
Mackenzie is going to West Chester University to study Speech Pathology this Autumn and wants to find a dog sitter before she starts.
The Newfoundlands sporting a Harry Potter theme on Halloween (Image: Mackenzie Makatche/SWNS)
“I’m hoping I will take my dogs and work with children in the future, either in school or private practices. I also want to start my own non-profit therapy dog organisation one day," she said.
“I take them to sports games as mascots and the kids love them. I have noticed that the kids will open up to a dog before they’ll open up to a stranger, especially if it’s an adult. I’d love to train my dogs to do reading therapy – helping kids with autism.
“The Newfoundlands are so gentle and relaxed. I don’t think you can find a better therapy dog because they are so content to hang out and do whatever you want to do.
“In terms of dog sitter, I’m looking for someone who’s in tune with dogs."
The latest addition to the pack joined them in June this year. She's named Betty and is five months old. Mackenzie said she is not looking to have more for a while.
She said: “I’d always be open to more but I do think there’s a limit where you don’t know them personally. I think we’re at a point where getting more would risk my time with them. I made an agreement with my fiancé that we are not going to grow anymore. I don’t want to say downsize but as the years go, we are not going to replace dogs. This will probably be the most we have at one time.”
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