Cathy Bennett never owned a dog growing up, back in the days when “groovy” was a word. There were no dogs when she raised her family and so Bennett was new to the world of human-canine love when she brought home a pair of goldendoodles in 2008.
Goldendoodles are a cross between a standard poodle and a golden retriever. The breed is tall and stately with thick white fur. They are intelligent like a poodle and mellow like a golden retriever. They’re the perfect dog, Bennett says, for beginners.
Eight years later, Bennett is not just a goldendoodle lover, she’s a goldendoodle missionary, churning out a thrice-weekly blog about their hijinks, called “Groovy Goldendoodles,” since 2011. Bennett has carved out a blogosphere niche within a niche that has attracted 1,000 loyal followers and a handful of sponsors.
The blog is a mélange of topics from everyday life with her dogs, Harley and Jaxson, but they spill into other issues that anyone can identify with. Recent blog posts recount the grieving process over losing her first dog, Leo; the intriguing interactions of a dog and a child; tips on caring for dogs during the summer; and the benefits of buying a waterproof seat car cover.
Written in a breezy prose and dotted with goldendoodle photographs, the blog reflects Bennett’s personality, which is instantly warm and inviting.
It’s so inviting that Bennett has used the blog as a platform to invite all dog owners for a visit to her adopted hometown of Charleston. In an online tournament at gopetfriendly.com, developed in March Madness style, Bennett led a successful effort to crown the Holy City as the most pet-friendly city in America. She recruited the support of Mayor John Tecklenburg and several pet-friendly local businesses, and conducted a multi-media campaign complete with an 11th-hour phone blitz. It added up to a three-vote victory for the championship.
Cathy and Lee Bennett raised their family in Northern Virginia before retiring here to Lee’s hometown a couple of years ago. A human resources professional, Cathy says she wasn’t “of the blog writing generation” when her daughter encouraged her to catalogue her goldendoodle experiences online. The blog’s narrow focus and readability made it an instant hit. When Cathy wrote about the sudden death of Leo, she was overwhelmed with an outpouring of sympathy from readers, including cards and flowers sent to her home. “It showed that I made a difference in people’s lives,” she said.
That’s apparent when she takes Harley to MUSC to work as a pet therapy dog on the pediatric unit. Highly-trained for the task, the gentle 7-year-old, 54-pounder brings joy to sick children just by snuggling. “It’s the most rewarding thing ever,” Bennett says. “Indescribable.”
Jaxson, at 18 months old and 70 pounds, is more of a whirling dervish, in motion constantly.
For all the time spent enjoying goldendoodles and writing about the breed, “let me just tell you that I do have a life,” she says. “I have no grandchildren, so I dote on the dogs.”