A Final Note from Harper Lee’s MommyPosted: August 28, 2022 | |
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.