Cookin', Critters and Chillun

They do things differently in ‘Carolina

It’s true. They do things differently in ‘Carolina.

As my husband and I sat eating a leisurely breakfast of grits and eggs at The Lost Dog Cafe on Folly Beach a couple of weeks back, I watched a giant dog slurping from a water bowl at the table next to us and a “Carolina Dog” approving the menu choices his owners had ordered for themselves.

Great Dane-Mastiff mix Grifter is welcome at The Lost Dog Cafe in South Carolina. Photo by Meg Hibbert

We were outside on the patio at the restaurant off the coast of Charleston, S.C., an area where some restaurants welcome dogs. Outside, not inside. But still, I’m not sure Virginia restaurants can allow dogs under the state’s health laws.

Grifter, the 1-year-old Great Dane-Mastiff mix, has been coming to the restaurant since he was 12 weeks old, said owners Laura and Sean Gildea who live on Folly Beach. The big puppy watched other diners come and go, then planted his paws – wet from the proffered water bowl – on Sean’s chest.

“We come here for breakfast or go to Rita’s,” Sean said, mentioning another nearby beachfront restaurant.

Those are the only two dog-friendly restaurants they knew about. I imagine there are others.

“We love it here,” said Kim Moans. The 2-1/2-year-old Carolina Dog, also known as a Domesticated Dingo, has come with her and Mark Bloomer since he was a puppy. “We can’t go wrong with the food, and you get to bring the fur balls,” she added, as they were about to dig into her colorful shrimp burritos with chili sauce and huevos rancheros.

The Lost Dog Cafe is crowded on weekend mornings. Not only is it famous for its egg dishes, giant cinnamon rolls for people, handy bowls of dog treats and water refilled for pooches, but also for its fence ornamented with dog-bone-shaped cutouts and hundreds of dog (and a few cat) photos owners have hung on the walls.

Not only are grits available on most breakfast menus and as shrimp-and-grits, but things in general seem a lot more relaxed in South Carolina. Virginia has too many uptight laws, many of us say. We do cleanliness in restaurant restrooms better in Virginia, though, and bug control. Some of the restrooms in Carolina were downright disgusting. I tried not to think about people who fixed our food also washing their hands in the same place.

South Carolina is famous for the Carolina Shag. Bill and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to dance under the Blue Moon on the Folly Beach Pier, at the Folly Beach Moonlight Mixer sponsored by the Charleston County Parks and Recreation.

It was the Blue Moon, of course, because Aug. 31 was the second full moon in that month. We didn’t know a soul, except daughter Meredith and husband Frederick. Although our son-in-law says he doesn’t dance, the couple did some downright presentable swing.

We tried to see a Charleston River Dogs baseball game, which was called in the third inning because of sideways slanting rain that threatened to maroon us on low-lying parking lots. Three days before, it was reported 5 inches of rain fell in an hour, and people were kayaking in downtown streets.

Ah, ‘Carolina. I wouldn’t really trade Virginia for the 90-plus heat and swamp mosquitos, but it’s a nice place to visit.

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