Out and About (Sort of): Sandy Rules by Howard Freedlander


As Thanksgiving approaches in two days, with visions of a hefty turkey leg engaging my taste buds, I feel thankful for Sandy, our delightful dog.

Nearing her 10th birthday in January, she has captivated my wife and me for two-and-a-years. She is loving and lovable. This is not my first attempt at framing words to describe an affection that I never anticipated enjoying.

This Yellow (mostly white) Labrador Retriever is a natural people-pleaser. I realize that I am not the first person to express love for an animal that demands nothing but constant attention and gentle stroking.

Sandy Freedlander

Every walk around the neighborhood and throughout the town of Easton with Sandy is a pleasant adventure. Inevitably people stop to pat her and talk about a Labrador or other dog they once owned or still have. Some are near tears as memories of a deceased dog rise to the surface.

When Sandy and I encounter a person still grieving the loss of a prized pet, we both feel the sadness. Sandy seems to linger, quietly accepting kind pats and soothing talk.

I put a lot of slack in her leash. We need not hurry. Dogs bring happiness, albeit briefly, to a passerby.

Being around Sandy gives me a sense of peace. I relax momentarily. I marvel at how a dog can bring so much comfort and calm. I watch her wag her tail as a form of gleeful playfulness. She doesn’t hide her joy. Humans often do.

As I may have written previously, I never had a pet as a child. My mother did not like animals. She didn’t trust her sons to care for and about a dog. She lacked even a smidgeon of good feeling toward a dog. She had many strengths; being a dog lover wasn’t one of them.

My childhood home was devoid of unconditional love for a four-legged creature.

I rue the day when we have to give up Sandy to old age and death. She has filled our lives with pure happiness, a substitute of sorts for our children who are embracing adulthood and parenting.

Though my wife and I have owned two dogs and briefly adopted another one in nearly 43 years of marriage, I’ve never experienced the total joy and love stimulated by our chunky, enchanting Sandy.

I feel thankful to Sandy for prompting this prose and providing respite and relief from the daily dose of absurdity and nonsense emanating from our nation’s capital. I promised myself I wouldn’t write the prior sentence, but so I did. I couldn’t keep my literary tongue from wagging.

When I contemplated retirement seven years ago, I didn’t envision a life softened by the presence of a tail-wagging canine that seemed so easy to please, so darn lovable. I well realize that so many, many people are equally blessed with a devoted pet.

The late Thom Jones, an American author of mostly short stories, wrote, “Dogs have a way of finding the people who need them, and filling the emptiness we didn’t even know we had.”

To continue my overly effusive description of our Yellow Lab, I feel privileged when I return home and find her waiting for me at the back door. She demands nothing but a cheerful hello and playful cuddling. She sits by my feet while I write my weekly Spy column. As if I needed any more inspiration.

I wish my “Spy” readers a joyful Thanksgiving. I hope this wonderful holiday brings delicious food and family togetherness. Like many, I find this holiday so much more enjoyable and stress-free than the universal and often hectic Christmas celebration.

I suspect that Sandy will be patrolling the family meal table looking for some tidbits (but no bones or mashed potatoes) that fall on the floor, typically from grandchildren’s plates.

Sandy is part of our family. She probably senses that.

Columnist Howard Freedlander retired in 2011 as Deputy State Treasurer of the State of Maryland.  Previously, he was the executive officer of the Maryland National Guard. He  also served as community editor for Chesapeake Publishing, lastly at the Queen Anne’s Record-Observer.  In retirement, Howard serves on the boards of several non-profits on the Eastern Shore, Annapolis and Philadelphia.

Letters to Editor

  1. Jonathon Jay Powers says

    Thank you for the lovingly written Sandy piece. I’d like to meet her some day.

  2. Sandy was a favorite visitor at the News Center. She would stop in almost every morning – visiting with employees and customers. She had a routine – stop at the coffee bar, off to the office to find Sharon and then back up to the register to visit. She even stopped in when we were having a luncheon after the store had closed. She was definitely a bright spot in our day.

    Thanks for sharing this wonderful article about this special member of your family.

  3. Mary Gleason says

    Thank you so much for writing such a beautiful article. I had the pleasure of meeting Sandy from her visits to the News Center here in Easton. She was a Saturday “regular”. We all looked forward to giving her treats and head rubs. You are blessed to have her as part of your family. Take care of her and she will take care of you. Happy Thanksgiving!

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