Iconic island dogs
Story by Bailey Gilliam
Dogs have a special place in our hearts, and many consider them to be celebrities — especially their own pets. But even if you’re not a dog person, there are eight local pups on Hilton Head Island that you should know about. These furry companions are an important part of our local history and often can be found at popular dog-friendly spots around town. They’ve become fixtures of the community by befriending regulars and charming everyone with their sweet, lovable personalities. Whether you’re shopping at Coligny Hardware or grabbing a drink at Salty Dog Cafe, you’re likely to run into one of these iconic pups. These four-legged friends have become beloved members of the Hilton Head community, and it’s easy to see why. With their wagging tails and playful demeanor, they make fast friends with anyone they meet. So next time you’re out and about on the island, keep an eye out for these lovable pups — they’re sure to bring a smile to your face.
Jake, Maverick & Charlie
Puppy love: If you have ever been to Hilton Head and stopped into Coligny Hardware, you met and loved Maverick. And before that, Jake. Now there’s a new pup to continue the white-dog legacy: Charlie. These dogs are so popular among locals and vacationers, they even have their own apparel brand: White Dog Trading Company, which donates a portion of the profits to canine cancer research.
Turbo & Casey
Hilton Head Humane
Puppy love: When executive director Franny Gerthoffer started at the society, she inquired about the then-11-year-old Turbo and was told “she’s the shelter dog.” This didn’t sit right with her, and she decided to make some changes. Turbo was adopted soon after. “Turbo just turned everything around. Even though if they’re here a long time, you never give up on them,” Franny said. “That’s been our philosophy ever since.” Casey is another shelter dog that changed things for the better. She was hit by a car at 9 months old, resulting in a broken front leg, a broken back leg and her jaw was hanging off. After a long recovery at Hilton Head Humane, she eventually got her forever home and lived nine more happy years, proving no dog should be given up on. As a result, no animals are turned away at Hilton Head Humane.
Outside Hilton Head
Puppy love: If you’ve ever been to Outside Hilton Head, you’ve probably seen Cali, or Calibogue, named after the body of water that separates Hilton Head and Daufuskie Island. This black Lab is the companion of Outside Brands founder and CEO, Mike Overton, and she epitomizes all that is the Lowcountry. She is a water dog, a marsh dog and a shop dog. On a daily basis you might find Calibogue charging through shore break to retrieve balls, in the field retrieving birds, on a boat, on remote islands such as Page and Daufuskie or in the Outside Hilton Head store. Calibogue is 10 years old and a purebred American black Labrador retriever. She loves people and will let you pet her for hours.
Dolly The Beach Berner
Puppy love: Dolly The Beach Berner is the LOCAL Life mascot and one of at least 15 Bernese Mountain Dogs in the Lowcountry. If you don’t see her around town in the LOCAL Life Jeep, you can follow her on Instagram at
@Dollythebeachberner. People often ask how a cold-weather breed does in the hot South. Like many humans, Dolly walks early in the morning and late in the evening and stays in the air-conditioned house — the beaches are too busy anyway during the summer. In the less-hot months, many of the local Berners join together for beach walks and some venture to patios for Sunday football and a pint. Local patios are dog friendly and bring water and treats for their canine guests.
Puppy love: You wouldn’t necessarily think of a fabric store to be a “must-go-to” stop in the Lowcountry. However, Discount Fabric in Bluffton has become iconic, thanks to the pups it’s had over the years serving as its customer service department. Currently in residence is an 8-year-old chocolate Lab, Harper, who was born and raised in the Lowcountry. She came from Lowcountry Lab Rescue and has made this business a popular spot to be. Children love to play with her, and her quirks (such as running sideways) make her endearing. Women have said that their husbands now want to come shopping with them just to see Harper. Some people come just for Harper–and that’s just fine.
Sweet Pea, Maddie & Penny
Puppy love: The cute shop next to Kilwins in Shelter Cove is known for its artisan gifts and souvenirs, but perhaps even more known for its long legacy of dogs. Sweet Pea was the first shop dog to greet customers and wear the iconic pearls ArtWare sells for dogs. Maddie was next in a proud lineage of dogs. This pup graced the local community for 16 years. And currently we have 3-year-old Penny, who loves kids and belly rubs and has raised a lot of money for the eight area humane groups ArtWare supports. The owners of this store are fond of saying, “people don’t care if we’re here, but that dog better be there!” And we can see why.
Gumbeaux, Chowder, Nola, Beignet & Bobby
Puppy love: Though you may not see an actual dog at Kenny B’s French Quarter Cafe anymore these days, you will see memorabilia of the great legacy of the Kenny B bulldogs. Starting with Gumbeaux, then Chowder, Nola and Beignet (not pictured), the English bulldogs have been in ads for the restaurant, have their photos plastered throughout the dining room, have been on ESPN and have even published a cookbook, which you can purchase at the restaurant. Gumbeaux was in the local film, Come Away Home. The owners soon will be adding a new pup to the family, Bobby (not pictured), who will be their first French bulldog.
Jake the Salty Dog
Salty Dog Cafe
Puppy love: We obviously have to include Jake, as he is an undisputed champion in the market, whether you believe the story or not. The entire image of The Salty Dog Cafe comes from Jake, a dog who rescued his owner, John Braddocks, from a stormy sea accident by swimming him to safety for three days and three nights. Jake is everywhere. Almost everyone has seen someone wearing a Salty Dog Cafe T-shirt or hat. Customers are encouraged to send in photos of their pets, preferably wearing Salty Dog gear, there is a children’s book telling the Salty Dog legend, a Salty Dog online radio station, several webcams enticing visitors to peek into the fun and interviews with Jake the Salty Dog. Jake’s legacy will certainly live on forever.