Top dogs in their own way Dogs may not compete in local show, but they’re still special

Like many who will attend the ninth annual Charleston Dog Show, happening Saturday in Marion Square, Elliott Swanson, who owns Grady, relates to her pooch as a parent.

If you see a woman furiously rummaging through bins at a local thrift store, step aside. It just might be Tracie Edwards, who haunts such stores as part of a very important mission: She collects stuffed bears for Snickers and Cooper, her family’s beagles.

The dogs, brothers who are nearly 3 years old, prefer biting noses off old bears to playing with the latest canine toys from pet stores.

They may not be the type that spring to mind when many think of show dogs, but they will at least be spectators Saturday at the ninth annual Charleston Dog Show in Marion Square.

The event has 14 classes in which canines can compete. No advance registration is required, so those who decide to enter at the last minute can do so. Money raised from entry fees paid by those whose dogs compete will benefit Greyhound Pets of America-Charleston, Lowcountry Lab Rescue, Middleton Place Hounds and Rescue Village Participants.

“They are not fancy schmancy, but they love being around other dogs, so my daughter, Taylor, and I are going to take them down there,” says Edwards of Summerville.

Cooper and Snickers also live for play dates with canine friends in Dorchester County, Edwards says. Those dates include two 7-pound Pomeranians named Ginger and Teddy, and other dogs, who belong to their owners’ extended family.

Snickers weighs 38 pounds and Cooper weighs 54, even though they eat the same amount of food, Edwards says.

The two were the last of a litter, and her husband, Daniel, spotted them while in Virginia when they were 6 weeks old.

The dogs, who sleep in the same crate, are inseparable. If they take one for a walk, the other will cry and scratch until his brother comes back.

“A lot of people think beagles have an annoying bark,” says Edwards, who says the dogs behave well on visits, including those to Wannamaker, their favorite dog park. “Our dogs will only bark if they see a bird or squirrel or a stranger. It’s not an annoying bark.

“We had read good things about beagles, like that they were good with kids and just friendly dogs,” says Edwards.

“All of the blankets on our couches have a little hole every few spots because they suck on them like they are nursing,” says Edwards, who finds it charming. “I have never seen a dog do that.

“They fit our family perfectly.”

Mr. Bojangles Boscarelli loves peanut butter, raw carrots and ice cubes, says owner Rob James. Think of them as the perfect snack foods for the Mount Pleasant dog who’s on a grain-free diet because of his allergies.

James, a trainer with Charleston County Consolidated 911, met the dog when he accompanied a friend to the SPCA to choose one. He had no intention of getting a dog for himself.

The nearly 3-year-old pit bull-terrier, called Bosco for short, was sitting up front, says James.

“I saw him and played around with him a little bit,” James says. “I kept thinking about him all week. I called a couple of times that week to ask if he was still there.”

He was, and James decided they belonged together.

“The name Mr. Bojangles is from a skit on a ‘Saturday Night Live’ show. And I think there is some TV show I used to watch where there was a policeman named Boscarelli.

“I take him to doggie day care, the Pooch Palace in Mount Pleasant. He usually spends a couple of days there to burn off some of that extra energy. Rich Heileman, my roommate, takes him to the dog park at Palmetto Islands on Long Point Road.

“I don’t get him any stuffed animals. He’ll rough house until you find little stuffed animals parts and fur and fuzz all over the place.”

James likely will bring Bosco to the dog show, but it will be strictly for the dog’s entertainment. He won’t place him in competition.

“His manners would just go out the window,” James says. “He would just get so caught up in the moment (if he was in competition),” James says.

Still, James will do something to ensure that Bosco remains in control.

“I might have to give him a little extra Benadryl, which he takes already for his allergies. It will be interesting.”

Getting Grady was like becoming a mother, Elliott Swanson says. While she grew up with dogs around the house, the 2-year-old black Lab is the first one she has raised.

“Pretty much everything is special about him,” Swanson says. “He’s just a good boy. I have had him since he was itty-bitty. Swimming and eating are his favorite things to do.”

Swanson takes the 60-pound dog to swim in Shem Creek near their home two or three times each week, she says. They go running together almost every day. While Grady likes his freedom, he does not stray too far and usually runs alongside her.

“I don’t have children and I have time and energy,” says Swanson, a teacher at Meeting Street Academy. “I think that it is beautiful to spend time with someone who is loyal and loving. He makes me smile every day. I love every part of the responsibility that comes with having him.

“He likes to eat pretty much everything,” she says, including raw vegetables she tosses when cooking.

Her fiance, Clint Locklear, has a 6-year-old Lab, Scout, and the pair have moved into Swanson’s Mount Pleasant home. “He’s a white Lab, and I am sure he’s a beautiful dog, but he has passed on some bad habits to Grady. Scout is a whiner.”

Swanson says Grady is good around all kinds of people and dogs.

“He’s exposed to all kinds of situations and he does pretty well. I might take him to the dog show and let him look around.”

Reach Wevonneda Minis at 937-5705.