When meeting Calibogue, Mike Overton’s sweet-tempered black Labrador retriever, it is impossible to miss the look of devotion in her eyes as she follows her loving owner. As his constant companion, Cali is right at home wherever Overton may be – at the office, and especially on, in, and by the water.
Her name was inspired by the deep channel that lies between Hilton Head and Daufuskie islands, known as Calibogue Sound. There couldn’t be a more appropriate name for this lovely Lab, as it honors Overton’s work over the past 45 years. Since 1979, he has been building his company, Outside Brands, now a four-division company that offers uniquely crafted guided experiences on the water.
Clearly made for each other, man and dog share a love of the water that is evidenced by Overton’s career path and Calibogue’s desire for a daily ocean swim. Overton explained that, to him, her name also represents the local culture and discovery.
Calibogue is always looking for adventure, especially on beautiful Page Island.
Labradors evolved from the 19th century Newfoundland breed – also known as the St. John’s water dog – that was known for their prowess in the water, good work ethic, and friendly nature. Cali definitely shares all these personality traits. These characteristics are why European settlers in Newfoundland sent these special canines to Great Britain on ships trading between Canada and England. These water dogs were bred with British hunting dogs to create Labrador retrievers – the breed we know and love today.
The black Labrador retriever was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1917. Today they are known to be excellent at retrieving waterfowl during hunts, are often trained for water rescue work, and make excellent service dogs. Calibogue’s life might not be that of the typical Lab, but she has her own twist on her breed’s instincts. She might not be technically performing water rescues, but she has rescued a vast quantity of tennis balls from the salty waves on island beaches.
And though hunting for waterfowl is not on her daily to-do list, she has finely honed “hunting for snacks” skills that are implemented whenever she hangs out at the office when Overton is working there. While not the textbook definition of a service dog, Calibogue loves to greet customers in the Outside Hilton Head flagship store and is a kind of therapy dog, bestowing loving nudges and warm, wet kisses on those hard at work in the Outside office. Most of all though, Cali and other Labs are, in Overton’s words, “wonderful companions, loyal, smart, active and true water dogs.”
Overton is definitely a “dog person” and grew up with cockapoos. Before Calibogue, he enjoyed life with another black Labrador named Charlie, who lived to be 14 years old. Calibogue turned 11 on Dec. 23 and has been with Overton since she was 7 weeks old.
A man and his best friend head out to explore.
“Her breeders were a family in Galivants Ferry in South Carolina,” Overton said. “They mostly keep all their dogs in their family, but due to a connection I had, they made an exception for me. I was required to interview with them at their home before I could become Calibogue’s owner.” Calibogue matured into a happy and loving dog whose favorite food is, interestingly, fish of any kind.
Overton’s success in founding and building Outside Brands is well known in the Lowcountry, as is his reputation for serving our community. Overton’s work schedule, with faithful Cali by his side, is not showing any signs of slowing down. Recently, he has been focusing on the exciting rebranding of Outside Brands’ destination management division, which is now known as Outside DMC. The new name better reflects the company’s brand and core values.
Calibogue’s day at Overton’s side could include an exciting boat ride to Outside Brands’ private Page Island or a ride out to Palmetto Bluff to meet clients who are looking to plan an exceptional Lowcountry experience for their employees. Cali and Overton take their job as Lowcountry ambassadors very seriously, always greeting people with wonderful Southern grace and charm.
A consummate water dog, Calibogue loves a front row seat on any boat ride.
As well as being Overton’s faithful sidekick, Cali is an integral part of the Outside team. When she saunters into the office, shouts of “Cali!” greet her, and her co-workers are rewarded with an enthusiastic tail wag. When she needs a walk and Overton is tied up in a meeting, the team is familiar with her bouncy dance that is always answered with the click of her leash and a long walk in Shelter Cove Community Park. In addition, no team photo is complete without Calibogue in the foreground, frolicking about, encouraging everyone to smile.
The deep bond between man and dog can be traced back over 15,000 years, and seeing Calibogue and Overton together make it obvious why dogs are known as “man’s best friend.”
At the end of every rewarding day leading Outside Brands, when Overton and Calibogue head home, Overton’s rewarding relationship with this limpid-eyed beauty is summed up in one simple phrase: Having a dog in your life is companionship and unconditional love.
For more information about the mission of Outside Brands, visit outsidebrands.com and follow the organization on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and TikTok.
Those who know Cali well find this honey-eyed gaze hard to resist. Hugs, belly rubs and ear skritchies are her reward.