The first time Nicole Schmidt adopted a dog, it was an accident. The then high schooler was just going out to get some food with her boyfriend when she spotted a ‘Puppies for Sale’ sign and went to investigate. Immediately, she fell in love with a Boxer mix, named him Tank, and brought him home, without even alerting his mother to the major decision. “I was not allowed to have a dog that day,” she now recalls, though she certainly has no regrets.
A few years later, Schmidt was in college when a friend’s brother discovered an abandoned, flea-covered puppy in a box in the dorms. She took the German Shorthaired Pointer Mix home and named her Jo, but only planned to keep her temporarily. It didn’t quite work. “My plan was to put her in a good home. I did, it was my home,” she says. “So I just kept it.”
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A few years later, Schmidt went to the animal shelter after work and met Mama, an American Staffordshire Terrier with heartworm who had been one of the shelter’s longest residents. Despite the pup’s condition, Schmidt knew she had to bring her home because of her loving personality. “I was like, ‘Oh my god, that’s the cutest dog I’ve ever met,'” she recalled.
Realizing there were so many other loving dogs like Mama stuck in shelters waiting for families, Schmidt decided to start helping, volunteering at a local shelter to wash dishes, walk the dogs and organize events. of adoption. One afternoon, she looked out the window to see her husband, Sebastian, taking selfies with an American Bully named Simba, and it seemed possible the duo were about to add a fourth dog to their home. Still, Simba was adopted by someone else, and Schmidt and her husband were certain they made a mistake by not bringing the puppy home themselves, she recalls.
Then fate intervened, and two months later she received a text message asking if she was still interested in promoting Simba. the dog needed a new home after being kicked out of his owner’s apartment by the landlord for tearing up the carpet. “He came back to us and that same evening we said, ‘He’s our dog, he’s never going back again,'” Schmidt said.
While life with four energetic dogs turned out to be chaotic — “There really is never a dull moment,” she says — it was also completely normal for Schmidt and her husband. “Simba completed our pack,” she explains. “He felt like this weird little brother glue that held the rest of the pack together.” The four dogs have different personalities: Tank is the “grandpa diva”, Jo is a “boss girl”, Mama lives up to her nurturing name and Simba stands for fun. Together, they make a lovable, playful group of best friends or, as Schmidt likes to call them, a “potato bundle” due to their cute and lazy natures. (She’s called the “Queen of Potatoes,” aptly.)
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Although they have their own close bonds, the pups are always welcoming to newcomers, playing with and teaching the foster dogs that Schmidt and her husband often care for. The animals have such a great time together that several years ago Schmidt started posting videos of their exploits on TikTok as @packofpotatoes. The clips – which often feature her hilariously “roasting” her dogs for their behaviors and quirks – quickly gained a following, and today the account has more than 350,000 followers.
Schmidt hopes viewers will see through his videos that all rescue dogs deserve to find their forever home. “There are tons of dogs with so much potential sitting in shelters waiting for a family that can invest time, energy and love in them,” she says. The fact that two of her own beloved dogs spent years in shelters “amazes me,” she adds.
As she continues to help more dogs be adopted, Schmidt is grateful for the family she and her husband have created with their puppies. “My whole world revolves around them because of the love I have for them,” she says. “I really can’t imagine a life where either of us would be absent.”