In the summer of 1976 I was 17 years old. I was about to enter my Senior year of High School. It was in the beginning of big changes and decisions. One day I was at Park Road Shopping Center thumbing through records in Ernie’s Record Store. I then wandered up the sidewalk & into the pet shop. Being naturally drawn to animals I would often cruise through the pet shops though I never bought anything. Toward the back of the store I found 2 puppies in a cage. They weren’t any particular breed, maybe a shepard mix. The store owner started up a conversation about the puppies and before I knew it I was handing her $2.50 and walking out the door with one of the pups in my arms. It took me a while to find the right name for her. I think it was at least a week before I named her. One night I was laying in bed listening to the TV show my parents were watching. A new guy by the name of Barry Manilow was singing a song called Mandy. And yes, I liked it. So my new pup became Mandy.Immediately we started bonding. I could tell that she was an intelligent dog. This was the first time I actually trained a dog so we learned together. I must say she made it easy. She learned quickly and we became fast friends and constant companions. She would go everywhere with me.
When she was small she would ride in the car under my legs and then in the backseat when she got too big for the floorboard. She would wait in the car patiently for me even with the windows rolled down. There weren’t many places I couldn’t take her. When I had to leave her at home she would wait patiently with no separation anxiety. She was such a good dog.
I remember a fun time when a friend and I took a spur of the moment trip to Myrtle Beach. We had no room reservations, but it was in the winter so we were sure we could find a room. We just hoped they’d let us take the dogs in with us. Well, we did find an ocean front room and the clerk let us slip the dogs in. It was great walking the beach with Mandy & watching her have fun in the waves.
I graduated high school and had no desire to jump into college so I took a job at the airport and registered for a few classes at the community college. After about a year of working I was ready to think about college. I decided to go to a Technical College in Western North Carolina and study Fish and Wildlife Management. The only available place to live was a one room apartment across from the college. It was obvious that Mandy couldn’t live with me there. So, for a year, Mandy lived at home and I’d go home on weekends.
Finally, in the second year, I found an old farm house to share with a roommate. Mandy came to live there too. The landlord didn’t want the dogs in the house so Mandy would sleep on the front porch under my bedroom window. She never ran off. There was a big field behind the house where we’d take our walks.
One day I made the mistake of taking her for a walk to my school a few miles away. The next day I told her to stay as usual (she always stayed in the yard). I got in the car and drove to school. It was warm so I left the windows down while I attended class. I came out to the car to go home and found Mandy sitting in the backseat waiting for me. Because of our walk She had figured out where I went every morning. She did this several times. One time she found me while I was sitting in class. My instructor was nice enough to let her stay under my desk until class was over. After that I had to start leaving her in the dog pen when I left and couldn’t take her with me.
This is the paragraph were I was going to tell you how I lost Mandy. But I can’t. Even today, 28 years later, it’s hard. She was my best friend. I still miss her. She touched my soul.