Dog Lover’s Guide to St. Paddy’s Day 2020

A photo of a St. Patrick's Day dog costume. Bully puppy photo of a cute American Pit Bull dog celebrating St. Paddy's Day wearing a green derby / bowler cap and green dog collar in celebration of Ireland.

Written by J.B. Shepard, a dog advocate and founder of the Puptrait Studio.

Sláinte! It’s March and you know what that means – St. Patrick’s Day is just around the corner!

St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated annually on March 17th. In 2020 the date falls on a Tuesday.

What is St. Patrick’s Day?

Saint Patrick’s Day, also colloquially known as St. Paddy’s day or in Irish as Lá Fhéile Pádraig (“the Day of Festival of Patrick”) is named after St. Patrick ( AD 385-461), believed to be a Welsh born former slave and one the most prominent patron saints of Ireland. City wide festivals and parades are quite common in many countries throughout Europe, South America, North America, and Oceania.

The festival is one of the most widely celebrated holiday’s in the world. It is both a cultural and religious celebration, denoting the arrival of Christianity in Ireland (receiving official feast day designation by the Catholic Church in the early 17th century), but the holiday more widely regarded as a more generalized celebration of Irish culture and heritage – where many believe that on St. Patrick’s Day every one is Irish. And, considering the prominent place of dogs in Irish history and culture there’s no reason not to include your favorite pooch in on the festivities!

Why do people drink so much on St. Patrick’s Day?

St. Patricks Day is often associated with heavy alcohol consumption. In many countries, it is one of the busier bar holidays of the year – which is quite unusual for a Saint Feast Day and for a celebration that is not regarded as an official government holiday in many locales. While many critics complain that this association is the result of over commercialization exploiting negative stereotypes associated with the Irish people. But the association of alcohol consumption with St. Patrick’s Day actually has historical and religious roots due to its Lenten ties – not dissimilar to the basis for Carnival and Mardi Gras festivities.

St. Patrick’s Day falls in the middle of Lent. Lent is a holy period for Catholics. It lasts roughly six weeks, starting during Ash Wednesday and ending on Easter Sunday (celebrating when Jesus rose from his grave). Historically, Catholics observed lent through various forms of fasting, restricting both meat and alcohol consumption. But on St. Patrick’s day both of these restrictions were lifted, encouraging and propagating the holiday’s tradition of alcohol consumption.

What’s up with all the Corned Beef?

The Lenten ties also explain why eating corned beef and cabbage has become a mainstay of St. Patrick’s day festivities. As with any other day during Lent, observing Catholics would eat meat (other than fish). Though it’s worth mentioning that corned beef isn’t actually all that traditional. While there are cattle in Ireland and salted beef isn’t an unusual dish to find in Irish kitchens. Historically, Irish Bacon was a far more common St. Paddy’s Day dish simply due to pork being more widely available in Ireland. The popularity of corned beef has more recent and Americanized ties to the holiday. Many Irish immigrants living in New York City’s Lower East Side in the 19th century found corned beef easier and more affordable to come by from their local delis, many of which were Jewish owned.

What is Irish Bacon?

Irish Bacon is more similar to ham or Canadian Bacon than the delicious slivers of crispy fat most Americans associate with the term. In most other English speaking (read: former British colonies) bacon tends to be more loosely defined than it is in the United States. On the Emerald Isle, meat that comes from the legs of a pig is traditionally referred to as gammon, where as most other meaty bits and parts are considered bacon – including sections from the loin, belly, collar, jowls and cheeks. That’s why if you go to any Supermac’s throughout Ireland and ask for a Bacon & Cheese Burger or a delicious a Smokey Bacon Burger you’ll be served an Irish farm assured beef patty topped with what looks like a slice of thick-cut ham.

Stop calling it “St. Patty’s Day”

If brevity is your thing, please remember that it’s St. Paddy’s Day and not St. Patty’s Day. I understand how this might be confusing. Patty does make sense as an abbreviation of Patrick. But it’s important to remember that this is an Irish holiday. Patrick’s Irish name is Pádraig. Hence the “D”. And, if you’re going to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day properly it’s important to remember a) the English can get bent, and b) we’re not letting some Anglican twats tell us what we call our saints.

Is it safe to give alcohol to dogs?

Do NOT give your dog alcohol — including beer, wine, whiskey or any other form of liquor. Giving your dog booze is dangerous and should be regarded as a form of animal abuse.

Please note that we are dog photographers and not veterinary professionals. The information included here is provided only for entertainment purposes. When it comes to the health of your dog, the only person you should trust is your vet. When in doubt, always ask a vet!

How to Celebrate St. Patricks Day with Your Dog

We’ve put together some of our favorite dog friendly event tips on how to make the most of this year’s Sunday Funday St. Patrick’s day!

1) Bring Your Dog to a St. Patrick’s Day Parade

Is your dog a people person? Do they enjoy crowds and loud noises? If it’s nice out and not too crowded, why not check out a St. Patrick’s Day parade? Neither too hot or too cold, for many locales in the United States, particularly for those dog lovers living in Southern or Mid Atlantic states, like Maryland, Virginia, Washington D.C., North Caroline and South Carolina, the weather in mid March can make for great extended dog walking weather. If you do decide to attend a St. Patrick’s Day parade, be sure to remain hyper aware of the crowds (never risk your dog being trampled or feeling trapped) and conscious of the noise. Any parade can be a loud affair. But St. Patrick’s Day parades tend to feature a lot of loud drum lines and high pitched bagpipe performances.

2) Organize a St. Paddy’s Day Dog Parade!

As we mentioned earlier, St. Patrick day parades can be pretty loud and crowded affairs. While many dogs may enjoy this extra bit of stimulation, it might trigger more anxious or reactive dogs. But that doesn’t mean your dogs wouldn’t enjoy a less crowded and quieter parade. It doesn’t take much to put a doggy parade together. All you need are a few friends with dogs and a safe walkable route. Online dog owner groups can be a great resource to help get the word out about your dog parade. Helping you find parade participants outside of your immediate social circle and introduce you to new dog friendly friends!

Bonus tip: Contact your local pet supply store and ask if they would like to be the final destination on your parade route.  Many of these shops are happy to host small yappy hours and may even provide free refreshments and snacks to guests. As bringing dog owners into their store is often a sure fire way to increase sales and introduce their shop to new costumers.

3) Stay Home & Eat Corned Beef & Cabbage

Most vets and dog trainers don’t advise giving dogs table scraps. As the practice can fatten your dog and encourage a number of unwanted behaviors, such as begging. But as I like to tell my own primary care physician whenever he calls me fat, “we’re here for a good time – not for a long time”. Corned beef does tend to be pretty fatty and is loaded with salt, so you don’t want to over do it. But honestly, the same holds true for most off the shelf dog treats – that’s why dogs go nuts for them. And, really for most healthy dogs, a few scraps of corned beef won’t hurt them.

But maybe, don’t feed your dog any boiled cabbage – especially if they’re already notoriously gassy. You’ve been warned!

4) Go to a Dog Friendly Brunch

What are Sunday Funday festivities without brunch? If you live somewhere that is relatively warm in March, brunch can be a great way socialize your dog and sneak in some quality day drinking (it is St. Paddy’s day after all) with your friends, while still getting plenty of sleep before work on Monday. Not every restaurant or bar that serves brunch is dog friendly, so be sure to call ahead to make sure that your furry friends are welcome. But in Washington D.C. and Baltimore, most restaurants with accessible outside seating, especially those along the harbor and waterfront welcome canine guests.

There are a number of dog friendly brunch spots located within short walking distance of the Puptrait Studio, including Wicked Sisters, Blue Pit BBQ, Hon Bar, and Rocket to Venus.

5) Dress your Dog in Green

On St. Paddy’s day everyone is Irish – including dogs! A green handkerchief folded in to a bandanna can be a cheap and easy way to help your dog show its Irish pride. If that isn’t festive enough for your liking, you could always purchase a green sweater for your pup or even pickup a leprechaun costume for your dog from your local pet supply store.

6) Take Lots of Photos of Your Dog

St. Patrick’s Day is as great excuse as any for taking adorable photos of your favorite puppy pal. Don’t be afraid to experiment by making your own costumes or trying different colored light sources when taking dog pictures. Remember, photographing dogs with flash is generally regarded as pretty safe. So, don’t hesitate to get creative with your pet portrait lighting. A bit of green cellophane taped around a flash light or place over the flash on your smart phone can dramatically change your pet portraits in interesting ways. Just make sure you don’t put plastic wrap on any light sources that produce heat – as it will melt pretty quickly and smell terrible. But most LED light sources (such as the flash on your smart phone) should be safe enough to use without risking melting.

BONUS TIP – Make Your Own St. Patrick’s Day Costumes!

For a more creative and inspired take on dog costumes for photos, visit your favorite thrift store (such as Salvation Army and Goodwill) and look for St. Patrick’s Day themed kids clothes. Small breeds in particular can often find great fitting and high quality toddler and baby clothes at most thrift stores. These outfits may need a few modifications or a bit of quick tailoring to fit well enough for walks. But even loosely fitting costumes can add a little extra oomph to seated pet portraits.

For the Better St. Paddy’s Day Photos, Hire a Pro Pet Photographer

St. Patrick’s Day is widely celebrated, but it isn’t an official government holiday in the USA. So, many dog friendly photo studios (including the Puptrait Studio) will be open on St. Paddy’s Day. You’ll want to call ahead if you want your photographer a custom designed Irish themed set, dog costume, or props. Or better yet – book your shoot in advance and schedule in a week or two prior to St. Patrick’s Day. That way your professional dog portraits will be ready for posting when the big day comes. Your dog loving friends will be so jealous!

Please note that we are dog photographers and not veterinary professionals. The information included here is provided only for entertainment purposes. When it comes to the health of your dog, the only person you should trust is your vet. When in doubt, ask a vet!

View Pet Photographer & Studio Availability Below

Our studio availability for St. Patrick’s Day is filling up fast! At the time of writing this helpful article we actually have two sessions already on the books for March 17th. But there is still plenty of time to bring your dog in for a one-on-one pet portrait and have their photos ready to share on St. Patrick’s Day. You can view studio availability, deposit requirements, minimum print commitments and even book your session online 24/7 using the online session calendar located below.

To ensure that your dog’s photos are ready for St. Patrick’s Day and avoid incurring any rush production fees, please schedule your St. Paddy’s Day theme session before March 10th.


Pro pet photographer, J.B. Shepard, featured here with a rescue dog from Bella's Bully Buddies along the Baltimore Harbor waterfront in Canton.About the author: J.B. Shepard, is a professional pet photographer, dog advocate, and founder of the Puptrait Studio. J.B. lives in Hampden, with his wife and two dogs — George (a Boggle) and Lucky (Jack Russell Terrier).

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