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Best Campus Celebrity: Buddy the Dog

Grace O’Donnell
Buddy’s “OK 2 Pet” sign is intended to help get him the maximum number of pets possible.

For the first year ever, The Tiger has crowned the Best of Clemson: Campus Celebrity. He’s a familiar face we all know and love, whether he’s lounging on the bench at the top of Library Bridge, walking through CORE campus or hanging out by Martin Hall in between class changes.

Buddy the dog has been a staple of the Clemson campus since fall 2022, when his owner, Dave Eckstein, said they “both got in trouble with our doctors” and decided to make a lifestyle change. The pair decided to start making the journey to campus and back, about a 35-mile round trip, a few days a week to get more exercise into their routine.

In an interview with The Tiger, Eckstein — and Buddy — talked about what they love most about their strolls through the Clemson community.

“For every person that comes to stop, there’s probably 50 that smile on the way by,” he said. “It’s hard to be cynical, and I’m a cynical guy — I just giggle the whole time. The way people react, it’s just a win-win.”

Eckstein estimates that around 300 students stop to pet Buddy each day, so by this math, Buddy is putting a smile on roughly 15,000 faces every time he walks through campus.

The most important thing for students to know about Buddy, according to Eckstein, is to “never feel bad about stopping. The reason we’re here is so that he can have time with the students. I think some people think they’re interrupting our daily walk or routine, but Buddy just wants all the attention. He can never get enough pets.”

In case the sign he wears with his bandana, marked “OK 2 Pet – BUDDY,” doesn’t get the message across, Buddy’s tendency to roll on his back and offer his belly up typically earns him quite a few rubs.

While sitting with the duo on Library Bridge, dozens of students stopped to pet Buddy, and many also stopped to chat with Eckstein. He’s a friendly face to decompress with, and he’s always open to listening about exams or whatever is stressing you, while Buddy enjoys your affection.

The superstar himself is a 5-year-old yellow lab, and his favorite spots to be scratched are under the ear and on his stomach. He’s not allowed to get treats from students as he’s watching his figure, but at home, Eckstein says he goes crazy for bacon.

Labs are known for their friendly temperament, and Buddy is no different. Eckstein says his favorite thing about him, by far, is “his demeanor. He’s just so calm.”

“He doesn’t get on the furniture except for one couch in the master bedroom where I watch TV. So he gets on the couch, and we watch TV. It’s great,” Eckstein said.

Eckstein is typically joined by his wife Pam unless she’s busy with her morning Jazzercise classes. You can catch them back in action this week on any sunny day, and please — make sure to stop and give your local celebrity a good scratch behind the ear.

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Grace O’Donnell
Grace O’Donnell, Sports Editor
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