Eight years ago, the sum total of my possessions fit cleanly into my 1972 VW Beetle, and I would make a habit of packing it full and heading off to Maine or California for a season or two until life called me back to Charleston. Living was free, without any obligations to hinder my wanderlust—that was until I happily traded it all for a ball of fur.
After I moved out to Folly Beach to pursue a career as a writer, my roommate, a vet tech student, brought home an affable Red Merle Australian shepherd for the weekend. He’d served as her test subject for anesthesia and dental-cleaning training (common practice with “pound puppies”), and in his two days around the house, we formed a bond. Come Monday, I couldn’t let him go. Originally dubbed “Gosling” (daddy likes his rum), he soon became “Goose,” thanks entirely to his habit of showing affection with a nose to the nethers.
Goose and I have been rooted in Charleston since. There is now a woman (my wife, Hunter) in our lives, and we’ve bought a house. It appears we’re here to stay, and without a hint of regret. When the temperature allows, Goose goes everywhere with us. He’s at his best on the bow of a boat, hunkered in the small space behind me on a kayak, or running out (only leg deep—waves are scary) into the surf.
Goose, like many a local pup, certainly has a good life here, but it seems presumptuous to claim that Charleston is more of a “dog town” than anywhere else. What is it that makes a city dog-friendly? Is it the number of parks available for our tail-wagging pals to run free, hang with new friends, and sniff exotic scents with abandon? Perhaps it’s the restaurants and bars that welcome pooches on their patios or the bowls of water conveniently placed at the entryways of shops along King Street. Add to all of that our penchant for pooch-related imagery—from The Citadel’s massive bronze bulldog at Johnson Hagood Stadium to our baseball team, the RiverDogs—and there’s a strong argument that Charleston is a special place for Fido.
In these pages, you’ll meet some of Charleston’s top dogs, who tag along to paddleboard the Intracoastal, greet sailors on the docks, and help children plant downtown gardens. They’re all happy hounds, because here in the Lowcountry, it’s a dog life, indeed.