Popular pooch celebrates 10-year anniversary of celebrity status

By: Nick Mordowanec | Fraser - Clinton Township Chronicle | Published November 7, 2017

 A billboard featuring Bently was one of many in Macomb County in 2007 to advertise the then-opening of The Mall at Partridge Creek.

A billboard featuring Bently was one of many in Macomb County in 2007 to advertise the then-opening of The Mall at Partridge Creek.

Photo provided by Angela Grammatico

CLINTON TOWNSHIP — It might be difficult to identify Bently, a 10 1/2-year-old dachshund, in a dog lineup. But 10 years ago, you may have seen him all around town.

Bently was chosen as the official canine advertiser for The Mall at Partridge Creek’s grand opening campaign a decade ago. The male dog, who was adorned with pink bowties and was depicted sticking his hot dog-shaped body outside a car window, was plastered on multiple billboards in Macomb County.

His owner, Angela Grammatico, recalls seeing a newspaper ad in 2007 seeking local dogs for the grand opening of the dog-friendly outdoor mall. She said to herself, “That’d be kind of cool,” but due to her work schedule, she asked her mother if she could take the then 8-month-old dog to the casting call.

Her mother and Bently arrived to find that nearly 800 dogs were vying to be the mall’s advertising extraordinaire.

There were Yorkshire terriers dressed in fancy hats and skirts, with similar outfits being worn by their own owners. There were canines doing tricks that were usually reserved for such occasions as the Westminster Dog Show. She even remembered being told of a well-groomed poodle who was doing pirouettes.

When Angela was told of the stiff competition, she said, “I thought my dog doesn’t stand a chance.”

A panel of about 10 judges, including some local advertising experts and celebrities, had to narrow the field from 780 dogs to 50. A couple of hours after their arrival, she received a call from her mother: Bently made the final 50.

“I thought that was amazing in itself out of that many dogs,” Grammatico said.

The day-long casting call continued, and she received another call at work: Bently made the final 10. That part of the competition was related to the mall’s ad campaign, in which dogs were to be photographed with their heads sticking out car windows. It was an “Are we there yet?” campaign for the grand opening.

Grammatico said that to this day, she believes her dog went that far because while he couldn’t perform flips or dress well, he was mild-mannered and listened to direction. The judges were enamored.

Sometime later that day, Grammatico’s mother showed up to the salon where she worked. Grammatico figured Bently’s magical run had run its course, except it was just beginning.

“My mom said, ‘He won the whole damn thing!’” Grammatico said, remembering how everyone inside the salon erupted in cheers and hysterics. “I was so surprised and so elated that out of all those dogs, they chose my cute, sweet little puppy. I was just on top of the world.”

About a month later, she and Bently were told to come to the mall, which was not fully constructed by that point.

Individuals on behalf of the campaign put a pearl necklace around Bently’s neck, but that didn’t work. Instead, they put pink bows in his hair. When the campaign was a wrap, the dog shook its head to relieve himself of the bows.

Billboards were later erected at major intersections around Macomb County, including M-59 and I-94; M-59 and Van Dyke Avenue; I-696 and I-75; and others.

To this day, Bently still goes to work every day with Grammatico. He’s beloved by coworkers and customers. She said that when a female client leaves her purse on the floor, the dog will search inside to find treats. Whenever the employees are enjoying lunch, Bently makes it his job to beg.

On Oct. 21, the mall celebrated its 10-year anniversary with a special event, including Bently. 

“Shoppers enjoyed live entertainment, dancing and complimentary sweet treats,” said Partridge Creek Marketing Director Jenni Kincaid. “We also invited Angela and her dog, Bentley, to join us on stage.”

Bently is the same dog he’s always been, she said, although he has gained some new fans over the years.

“He’s a local celebrity,” Grammatico said. “Once (people) know who it is, they put the two together.”