She was a scared little 6 month old terrier mix when I first saw her at the Chester County SPCA in Pennsylvania. It was a Friday in April, 1996, and I was looking for my first dog as an adult. She was beautiful! I talked to her for several minutes and knew she was my dog.

They told me she was a stray and they had to keep her for 3 days before she was eligible for adoption. That meant she wouldn’t be available until Tuesday. Sadly, I was going to be out of town that day and they told me that they didn’t hold dogs for anyone. I immediately called Dr. Waltz, a local veterinarian. Dr. Waltz had told me if I ever needed a recommendation to get a pet I could call him.

Dr. Waltz was the vet who treated a dog I saved from another dog who was attacking it. The attacking dog tore my hands to shreds when I was prying them apart, after which it was obvious I needed a lot of stitches. I took the injured dog to him with my bloody hands wrapped in t-shirts. He told me that he couldn’t believe I would take the dog to him before going to a doctor myself. The dog I brought in turned out to be fine. No puncture wounds or broken bones, just a few bruises.

I told Dr. Waltz I was going to drive the emergency room and get stitched up. He noted the large amount of blood I had lost and that I was pretty woozy. He told me I couldn’t talk to anyone about what he was going to do until he was dead. As he passed many years ago, I can tell you that he stitched up my wounds. It took dozens of sutures. When my family doctor removed them several days later, he noted their precision. I told him it was a resident at a local hospital. They were so good I just have a few tiny scars on my hand.

When I was told they wouldn’t hold Mandy for me, I had him call the SPCA. He told them I loved dogs so much I should take 2 or 3.

The mother of a friend was the President of the Bucks County, Pennsylvania SPCA. She was aware of my passion for dogs and she also called in a personal recommendation. The SPCA begrudgingly held Mandy (short for A Mandolin, the name I chose for her) until I got back on Wednesday.

Mandy was so small when I took her to my house that she couldn’t climb the stairs for a few weeks. I had to carry her upstairs to sleep with me. The first night she slept on my head. I woke up with a terrier hat. We bonded immediately and she became my best friend and constant companion.

Everyone at QVC knew Mandy. Richard Simmons once carried her all over the building because he thought she was so beautiful. She smelled like Paco Rabanne for hours. The first time Joan Rivers saw her, she petted her and said, “Oh darling, you could do so much better than this schlub. I know George Clooney, I’ll give him a call.” (Joan was a dear friend and we always joked around like this.)

Mandy became best buddies with QVC’s Golden Retriever Murphy. When I brought her in, she and Murphy would go to his big bed onstage and fall asleep, spooning. Sometimes they would wander through the building. Many tour groups were greeted by Murphy and Mandy. She loved everybody.

When I left her at home, I would put QVC on so she could see me when I was on the air. I had to clean doggie spit off the TV screen many times since she must have licked it when she saw me on the screen.

I hadn’t had a Christmas tree for years but put one up for Mandy’s first Christmas. She loved sleeping under it. Even though I got her in April, the sight of her sleeping under the tree that December made me think of her as my best Christmas gift ever.

When the QVC Christmas rush was over on Dec. 22, I took Mandy to Cape May, a seashore resort in New Jersey, for couple of days. We stayed at The Marquis de Lafayette, one of the only places in town that took dogs. We went for walks down by the beach in Cape May Point and would always stop at the local WaWa Market. She loved their bacon/cheese hotdogs. We would always share one, sometimes two.

After a couple of days in Cape May, we went back home on December 24th. I bought her some new toys and treats which she really enjoyed “opening” on Christmas morning. We watched some Christmas movies on TV and went for a cold Christmas day walk at Marsh Creek State Park, one of her favorite walking spots.

When I moved to Nashville, my house had a half acre fenced-in yard. She loved it! Every night she would patrol the fence, always in the same counterclockwise direction. Lots of squirrels to chase. She often came close but never caught one. She loved our trips to New Orleans and Atlanta. Most desk clerks there would say, “Good morning Miss Mandy,” when I’d take her out for her morning walk.

I had Mandy for 11 wonderful Christmases together before she passed away. Since I didn’t get her until she was 6 months old, missing her first puppy shots took its toll on her after age 10. She had surgery when she was 10 and it gave her an additional year with a good quality of life. The surgery cost $6500. Right after it was done, the vet clinic knocked down an old building next door and built an additional parking lot. I always referred to the lot as “The Mandy Memorial Parking Lot.” About a year later she died quietly in my arms in just a few weeks short of her 12th Christmas.

Mandy’s unconditional love and eternal spirit of joy changed my life forever. We have a couple of world class dogs (and a lazy cat) that we have enjoyed for many Christmases. Mandy taught me how to love them. The joy they show when they get a new toy or treat reminds me of the little terrier who changed the life of everyone who knew her, especially me. God bless you, A Mandolin Bryant. I know we will be together again.

© 2020 Steve Bryant – Story and/or image may not be reproduced in any media or form without the express written permission of the author.

TV Shopping Host and Coach, Musician, Author, Teacher.

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