A Final Note from Harper Lee’s Mommy

March 17, 2009 ∼ August 27, 2022

When Harper Lee was just a tiny puppy, I held her in my arms, and I cried. “Why are you crying?” my husband, Doug, asked. “Because one day I’m going to have to tell her goodbye,” I said. That day was yesterday. She lived 13 years, five months, and 10 days. It was a long life, filled with friends, adventures, treats, toys, travel, and love. It was a good life, and I’m thankful for every second. It was longer than I ever thought it would be, but it wasn’t nearly long enough.

At nine months, Harper Lee was diagnosed with hip and elbow dysplasia. It was serious. She started physical therapy at the LSU vet school. I thought we might only have two years with her. We celebrated her second birthday, and then I set my sights on four years as a goal. I launched Miss Lee’s blog in 2012 when she was three years old. Fearing that my time with her would be limited, I wanted to make every day special. I knew that developing blog content would give me incentive to take Harper Lee to new places, try new things, bake lots and lots of treats. The blog would also give me a memory book of sorts when I had to let her go. I’ve spent the last few days revisiting her blog posts. They’ve made me cry sad and grateful tears, sad that our adventures have ended, grateful that we were so lucky to have had so many special moments together.

Instagram and Twitter accounts followed. Social media gets a bad rap. For Miss Harper Lee and her humans, it was nothing but good. We developed so many real and supportive friendships with people and animals we only knew virtually. Even better, we met so many followers IRL. (That’s “in real life” for anyone of a certain age.) We shared beach trips, football games, courtyard lunches, and a red carpet walk at a blogging convention. We supported each other through losses and illnesses, human and canine. I was happy beyond belief that I was able to share Harper Lee with so many people around the world. She was a special girl, and I thank everyone who loved her along the way.

We moved from Baton Rouge to New Orleans in 2015. Harper Lee was six years old. As her blogging assistant, I regret that our posts became more sporadic.  As her human mommy, I can assure you that her adventures continued. Harper Lee became a therapy dog. She visited nursing homes, hospitals, conventions, universities, and summer camps. She comforted families that were forced from their homes by flood waters and helped to establish the therapy dog program at the New Orleans airport. Harper Lee even earned two AKC titles, officially becoming Denham’s Harper Lee THD CGC. 

I am forever grateful to Harper Lee for welcoming two Golden Retriever puppies into our family. Tallulah Bee arrived in 2015 shortly after our move. Birdie Blue joined us in 2021. Miss Lee was the perfect role model, patient and kind even when I would have forgiven her completely for not being so. Almost daily I whispered into her ear, “You’re my favorite.” I meant it. I think Tallulah and Birdie forgave me for that bit of favoritism. I also think that they will miss their big sister every bit as much as Doug and I in the minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, and years to come.

Doug and I had our first Golden Retriever, Talbot, years and years ago when we lived in Galveston. One day, I was talking with a woman who was on her second Golden. (In case you didn’t know, Golden Retrievers are an addiction.) She looked down at her second Golden and said to me, “I love this dog so much it scares me.” I thought that was an odd thing to say. I really didn’t understand what she meant, until 13 years ago when I held tiny Harper Lee in my arms and cried. When I had to let Talbot go, my heart shattered into a million pieces. There were days I thought I’d never be happy again. I thought I’d never love another dog as much as I loved Talbot, and then Harper Lee came into my life. I knew almost immediately I would love Miss Lee even more. I would love her so much it would scare me.


29 Comments on “A Final Note from Harper Lee’s Mommy”

  1. My GBGV Life says:

    We are so sorry for your loss. She was one of our favorite doggy bloggers and we read all her posts but we haven’t heard anything in a long time. Thank you for letting us know of her passing, even though it makes us extremely sad. She had a wonderful life and loved you and knew how much she was loved. Hugs to you in this very difficult time.

    • Thank you very much. Your words are a great comfort. I have so many regrets about not keeping up with her blog over the last few years, but I am grateful for the memories that I can revisit.
      Harper Lee’s Mommy

  2. I am so sorry to hear the news of MHL’s passing. It’s an inevitable occurrence that, as you know all too well, we sign up for the day our fur babies come into our lives. I hope you can take comfort in knowing what a great life you had with her and that you beat the early odds with her dysplasia. We lost our beloved Kali earlier this year- New Years Day to be exact. She was also 12 and a half. While I cannot know the pain of this loss is causing you I can imagine based on my own experience with Kali, who like MHL, lived a full and mostly healthy and happy life once her paws hit the ground in America (From Taiwan).

    When I began Kali’s blog in 2014 yours was one of the first I found and followed. I enjoyed reading about your collective lives and seeing many parallels with Kali’s. Like you over the years our frequency of posts waned, but I still maintain the blog, and always will, as a tribute my girl who started it all. Again, like MHL Kali welcomed two pups to the pack over the years, Kloe and Koda, and until her final day was their loving Sissy Mama.

    I will be thinking of you over the coming days and weeks and hoping you find peace in your heart. God’s speed MHL as you pass over the bridge. You touched many but none so much and closely as your mommy.

    P.s. shortly after Kali passed I too went back and read all our posts (200+). Sometimes with tears, sometimes with laughs, and always with joy in my heart. You too have your memories memorialized for ever. And that is good.

    • I cannot begin to tell you how much your message means to me, nor can I begin to tell you how sorry I am to know that you lost Kali. It’s such an unimaginable pain. They leave the biggest paw prints on our hearts. I am so thankful to have Miss Lee’s blog posts and so many great memories. Like you, I will also maintain the blog. In fact, I’m considering recommitting and chronicling Tallulah and Birdie’s lives. Sadly, Saturday reminded me that I won’t have them forever, and being able to revisit our lives together one day will be a comfort. Take care, and give Kloe and Koda great big hugs for us.
      Harper Lee’s Mommy

  3. Tammy Donly says:

    I am so so sorry for the loss of your beautiful girl . My heart is with your you and Doug and Tb and BB . It was so incredibly wonderful to meet years ago . I am so grateful for our l friendship . I m sure Bear welcomed Miss Harper Lee and together they frolicked to a Rainbow beach . And of course Rosy will be throwing her a fabulous welcome party .
    Again so many hugs to your family and lots of love.

    • I am also so grateful for our friendship, for the time we spent together, and for wonderful Bear for introducing us. It makes me so happy to think of Bear and Miss Harper Lee running free on a Rainbow Beach. She loved the beach so much. And I am sure that Rosie bought every single pink thing she could find at the Rainbow Bridge to decorate for the most fabulous welcome party ever. ❤

  4. It feels all kinds of wrong to ‘like’ this post. I’m so sorry for your loss. We’ve followed her and her sister’s adventures and especially enjoyed all her Mardi Gras Krew pics. May the passage of time bring you much comfort instead of the heartbreak you’re feeling now. Thinking of you and sending you and your family tender comfort. 💔

    • Thank you very much. I miss her terribly, but knowing that she brought so much happiness through the years, to her family and to those beyond our household, is a comfort now and will continue to be.
      Harper Lee’s Mommy

  5. Caren says:

    I am deeply sorry to learn about Harper Lee’s passing (my Granddaughter who just turned 4 is named Harper xoxo), I always enjoyed your blog and seeing Harper Lee. It’s sad, our Dakota passed in July of 2020 and he was 13 years old, 4 months and 9 days. Harper Lee always brought a smile to my face. Sending prayers of love and comfort in this most difficult time. xoxo

    • Thank you for the love and prayers and for your kind words. I am so sorry that that Dakota passed. Their only flaw is that they just can’t stay with us long enough, whatever the length of time we have with them. I’m certain that your granddaughter is a very special girl. Only the most special girls get to be named Harper. 😉
      Harper Lee’s Mommy

  6. I’m so sorry for your loss; but what a beautiful life!

  7. You and your family and pack have inspired us so much, HL. Mom and I will always love you and miss reading about your adventures and service. You have left an adorable legacy in your sisters. RIP, sweet girl. Prayers for your family to heal.

    Love and licks,

  8. The Dogs Mum says:

    So so sorry to read of Harper Lee’s passing. Your blogs have always been so much fun to read and I hope looking back they remind you of all the good times Miss HL had and the wonderful life that you gave her, and continue you to give to Tallulah Bee & Birdie Blue. Thinking of you all and sending prayers of comfort xxx

    • Thank you for your sweet words and for your prayers. I am so thankful to have Miss Lee’s blog posts. I’ve spent the last few days looking back at them (and her IG photos and Twitter tweets). I see them as her gift to me from the other side of the Rainbow Bridge.
      Harper Lee’s Mommy

  9. I’m so, so sorry…I know what it’s like. I lost Maynard 2 years ago. (Labs are ALSO an addiction!)

    I loved your blog. It captured the love between humans and animals, the love that was meant to be as, I think, that love of God’s creatures for one another. I am convinced that dogs teach us that!

    Again, I’m sorry, but, oh my, think what we’ve had. We’ve seen the world through the eyes of Mary Ann, Prince, Magellan, Maynard, Talbot, and Harper Lee and Pontalba and Millie and we are better humans because of it.

    What a ride we’ve had and, damn, that rainbow bridge is incredible!


  10. lablover848 says:

    So sorry to hear this. I followed her adventures from time to time. Run free gorgeous girl at rainbow Bridge xxx🌈

  11. You know what sadness this brings to Pretty and me. Miss Harper Lee was beloved by our family and we will miss her IRL – we will forever be grateful for our opportunity to meet her when we were in New Orleans in 2017. A sweet gorgeous golden with soulful eyes.
    My hope is that she will meet The Red Man, Smokey Lonesome Ollie, Paw Licker Annie and Tennis Ball Obsessed Chelsea in the great beyond and that they will become best friends. Bless your hearts – we will be thinking of you and Doug and share your pain.

    • Thank you so much for your kind words, Sheila. Miss Lee and I enjoyed our visit with you and Pretty so very much. When Doug and I returned home from the vet last Saturday, we toasted our sweet girl with bourbon, which we always said was the color of her eyes. It just seemed so fitting.

  12. Maryanne says:

    So very sorry for your loss. She was a beautiful pet and she will always know what a wonderful pet parent you were. Rest in peace, sweet Harper Lee.

  13. KDKH says:

    What a wonderful life y’all had together! I know what you mean, about loving her so much it scared you. Truly special love affairs are like that, and she was one of your best! I’m sorry for your loss, but not for the great love you two shared.

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