We Were So Lucky

It’s been almost seven months since we said goodbye to Miss Harper Lee. Today would have been her 14th birthday. I took a photo every year of Harper Lee’s life to celebrate her big day. This is the first year that I haven’t been able to do that, so I put together a collage of past birthday photos.

We were so lucky to have had our St. Patrick’s Day birthday girl in our lives for more than 13 years. We will celebrate that always, on this day and every other day of the year.

Miss Harper Lee’s Family


Give Me the Gavel

Buzz from The Bee

Alright, I’ve watched the humans dilly dally on this speaker-of-the-house vote long enough. Give me the gavel. I’ll do it. I promise to represent everyone fairly–even the kitty cats, lizards, and squirrels–and everyone already knows that I’m (hu)man’s best friend.

Speaker Tallulah Bee. It has a nice ring to it, don’t you think? Now let’s get this House of Representatives party started.

P.S. Many thanks to Sen. Chuck Schumer for letting me borrow his glasses.

Toy Introductions Day 13: Dudley Dog

Tallulah’s Turn . . .

In April 2020, long before Birdie Blue joined our family, Dudley Dog came to live with us. Dudley was selected because he lacks stuffing and seemed to be something that I might not destroy, which is a high priority in toy selection around here. Harper Lee and I immediately fell in love with him. Our human mommy noticed that we liked to snuggle with Dudley and fall asleep. We were so unusually calm with Dudley that Mommy pulled his packaging out of the trash to read about him.

It turns out that Dudley is infused with essential oils that help sooth negative emotions and ease and balance the transition to a new environment, but Harper Lee and I didn’t have negative emotions and we’d lived in our environment for years. Then again, it was April 2020. Remember the early days of COVID-19? Who didn’t have negative emotions? And weren’t we all trying to balance the transition to a new environment? Dudley’s special powers have probably long since left his unstuffed body, but I still like to nap with him. Night night. Sweet dreams.

Toy Introductions Day 7: Dead Bunny

Tallulah’s Turn . . .

So, I’m a little embarrassed about this introduction. I don’t name the toys. I just play with them, ok? We call this one Dead Bunny. I mean, look at him. The name fits, right? Birdie and I would never, ever kill an actual bunny. Mostly because we’ve never seen one, but still, we probably wouldn’t do it. Much like Fred the Red Fox, Dead Bunny’s tail squeaker has gone silent, but his head squeaker has a pitch that makes dog heads twist within a two-block radius.

Dead Bunny suffered a serious back tear at some point. Why are you looking at me? He was nearly ripped in half, but the skillful surgeon at Squeaky Toy Hospital managed to sew him back together and he’s been good as new ever since . . . well, as good as new as a Dead Bunny can be.

Toy Introductions Day 5: Ollie the Octopus

Tallulah’s Turn . . .

You know how when you find the perfect toy, you just want to shout to the world to let everyone know how perfect it is? Well, this is me shouting, and I’m telling you that Ollie the Octopus is perfection. Ollie came to live with us more than a year ago. He still squeaks . . .

. . . and he’s never ripped. He has eight legs. Wait, what’s that? My research staff (aka Mommy) tells me that these appendages on an octopus are called arms. Arms, legs, whatever. I just know that Birdie likes to grab one arm, I like to grab another, and then we like to see if we can rip Ollie right down the middle. No luck. Ollie is still in one piece.

Now I know that I’m not the only toy-destroying dog and that everyone out there is looking for toys that can survive their dog’s jaws of death, so I turned to my research staff (again, that’s my mommy) to find out who makes Ollie the Octopus. She thinks it’s a company called Tufflove, but she can’t find a website. She does remember that she bought Ollie at a Petco. Clearly, we’re not getting paid for this recommendation. If we were, we could hire a better research staff.

Toy Introductions Day 4: Red Ball

Birdie’s Back . . .

Hello, my name is Birdie Blue and I’m ball obsessed. There, I said it. Now everyone knows. This is Red Ball. There used to be an Orange Ball, and before that another Orange Ball, but I’d rather not talk about what happened to them. You understand.

This ball is made by Kong (again, not a paid ad, just a recommendation) and it passes the Birdie test, which is a really challenging test. I love nothing more than trying to sink my teeth into a really good rubber ball. Maybe that’s not exactly true. I love nothing more than pestering my humans to get Red Ball down from its safe perch, which is just out of my reach, so I can play with it. Ok, I also love making my humans throw Red Ball to me over and over and over again.

There might be two things I love even more than all of those other things. I love rolling Red Ball out of the gate as people walk by on the sidewalk so that they’re forced to play with me. And I love rolling Red Ball outside of the gate when no one’s around so that my humans have to go get it for me. Humans make the best retrievers.

Toy Introductions Day 2: Will You Accept This Rose?

Hey, Birdie Blue here. I’m new to this whole blogging thing, so you’ll have to bear with me. Before I introduce the toy of the day, allow me to introduce myself. I joined the family in January 2021. I guess you could say I was a COVID puppy, but I was actually in the plans for a while. Tallulah’s sister, SoBe, is my mother, so that makes Tallulah my aunt and my sister, kind of. Only in the South, haha. My registered name is ParishLine’s That Tweet Chick is Trending, but you can call me Birdie…or The Bird…or Big Bird…or Little Bird…or, well, you get the idea. I loved Harper Lee very, very much. We used to play together all the time. I sort of worshipped her. Tallulah didn’t want to have much to do with me, and I gave Tallulah her space. I guess sisters can be that way sometimes. Things changed after Harper Lee crossed the Rainbow Bridge. Tallulah and I have become inseparable. Our humans call us the Bobbsey Twins. We play, and play, and play. I like to snuggle up next to Tallulah, and she’s ok with that. We both miss Harper Lee extremely, but I’m thankful to have Tallulah, and I think she’s thankful to have me. Enough of that. On to the Toy of the Day introduction.

Remember yesterday, when Tallulah told you that our toys have names? That’s not true in this case, but, as Mr. William Shakespeare once said, “That which we call a rose / By any other name would smell as sweet.” Kind of blew your mind with my literary knowledge, huh? These roses were a gift from a couple of handsome Golden boys who run Geaux Fideaux, the place where we get our bandanas. Full disclosure, there used to be three roses, but Tallulah destroyed the pink one. She’s like that. Also, to all those people who ask our humans, “Do your dogs shed?” Yes, we do, all over the place and all the time, so please excuse all the dog hair on these roses. Have you seen “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette” on tv? You know how sometimes those women practically fight each other to get a rose from the bachelor? Tallulah and I can be a lot like that with these roses. Who doesn’t want to be the girl who gets the rose? Better yet, who doesn’t want to be the girl in charge, the one who’s handing out the roses?

So, will you accept this rose, Golden Retriever hair and all?

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.

On the Twelfth Day of Christmas . . .

. . . on a bluff in St. Francisville, Louisiana, overlooking the mighty Mississippi River, St. Francis of Assisi–the patron saint of animals–focused a ray of light on Tallulah Bee and me. Such a perfect end to this Christmas season.

On the Eleventh Day of Christmas . . .

. . . Tallulah and I welcomed Mr. Sunshine and Miss Blue Sky back into our lives. It seems we’ve had nothing but clouds, fog, and rain since Christmas, so you cannot begin to imagine how happy this day makes us.

Wishing you sunny skies and wide open fields. 🙂