Celebrating 22 Years of Dogs

Tomorrow my humans will celebrate 22 years of wedded bliss. They’ll take some time this weekend to reminisce about all of the adventures they’ve shared. And, naturally, they’ll remember the dogs who have been with them along the way.

What's in a Name 2 thek9harperlee


When my humans met, Mommy already had Sheffield. In fact, you might credit Sheffield with bringing my humans together. Sheffield and a little Beagle named Abby were friends, which made my human mommy and Abby’s mom friends. Abby’s mom was dating my human daddy’s friend, and Abby’s mom and my human daddy’s friend decided to fix my humans up on a blind date. (It got a little confusing there. I hope you’re still with me.) Abby’s mom gave my future daddy some very good advice before that first date: You have to win over Sheffield. Without Sheffield, you don’t stand a chance. Daddy took that advice, showed up with a big bone for Sheffield, and the rest is history.

What's in a Name 3 thek9harperlee


One thing led to another, and my humans marched down the aisle September 16, 1995, in Houston, Texas. A guest at their wedding just happened to own two Golden Retrievers, brothers Bow and Arrow. At the reception, he and my humans talked about his plans to breed Bow. My humans said that they would be interested in adding one of Bow’s puppies to their new family, and the guest promised to keep them posted. My human mommy still remembers the day that the phone rang (back when people actually had home phones). It was Bow’s daddy sharing the big news that he thought Bow’s girlfriend, Sandy, would be having puppies and if she did my humans would get first pick. Shortly after that, Talbot joined Sheffield and the little family started to grow.

My Sister, Lexi


Several years into their marriage, my humans moved to a place called Galveston, Texas, a small island off the coast of the Lone Star state. Sheffield and Talbot made the move with them, and everyone settled into island life. Eventually my human mommy joined the board of the Galveston Island Humane Society. One day my humans volunteered at a pet adoption event. They were in charge of finding a new family for Alexis, an older terrier mix. Alexis didn’t have the shiniest coat and her teeth showed some signs of obvious dental neglect, so she was a hard sell. At the end of the day, no one wanted Alexis . . . except my human daddy. He had fallen head over heals in love. So Alexis came home with my humans as a foster dog. Less than twenty-four hours later, she joined Sheffield and Talbot as a permanent member of the family. In addition to her new home, she also had a new name–Lexi–because she had decided that she wanted a new name to start her new life.

Harper Lee

While my humans still lived in Galveston, their little family dwindled. First they said goodbye to Sheffield, and then they had to let Talbot go. It was heartbreaking, but Lexi soldiered on. She made the move with them to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and that’s when Yours Truly entered the picture. One weekend morning, my humans were looking through the newspaper. For some odd reason, my human daddy turned to the classified section (which he normally never ever did) and noticed an ad for Golden Retriever puppies in a little town outside of Baton Rouge. My humans looked at each other and said, “Let’s just go look” . . . as if anyone ever just goes to look at puppies. Before the end of that day, I had waddled my little puppy butt right into my future human daddy’s lap, planted a huge kiss on his cheek, and I was all set to become the newest member of the family.

Tallulah Bee

Lexi and I shared our humans for several years before she too had to leave the family. I was an only dog for a while. That’s when my humans got serious about researching responsible Golden Retriever breeders. They discovered Rhythm Golden Retrievers in Ocean Springs, Mississippi, and got at the end of a very long waiting list. Meanwhile, the humans decided to make a move from Baton Rouge to New Orleans. The day they closed on their new house in the Crescent City, Mommy received a text: Rhythm Golden Retrievers had a new litter of puppies and one of the girls was going to be our newest family member. It wasn’t the best timing, but it was the best news. Tallulah Bee would be joining our family.

So my humans have seen 22 years come and go. They’ve had the heartbreak of saying goodbye to Sheffield, Talbot, and Lexi. But they’ve also had the joy of filling their lives with the unconditional love of man’s (and woman’s) best friend every single day of their married life. Tallulah and I are so happy to celebrate this anniversary with our human mommy and our human daddy, and we hope to be right there by their sides to celebrate many, many more.

Cheers, and happy 22nd Anniversary!


What’s in a (Dog) Name?

What's in a Name 1 thek9harperlee

Last week, I received a fun little email from my friends at Bark Box about the current trend in naming dogs. According to this infographic from Fatherly.com, humans are giving their four-legged “children” names that are also quite popular for two-legged children.

Fatherly Infographic Dog and Baby Name Trends

As you know, my humans named me after Harper Lee, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of To Kill and Mockingbird. My humans tend to make dog name selections long before the dog actually comes into their lives. That was the case with me, and that will be the case with my little sister . . . when she finally comes to live with us . . . one day . . . after my humans find her. Her name will be Tallulah, after the American stage and screen actress Tallulah Bankhead. So clearly, with Harper Lee and Tallulah my humans are on trend with the suitable-for-human-children dog names. Which made me wonder about all the dogs who came before me in my human’s lives.

 My Sister, Lexi

This is my late canine sister Lexi. (You can click here to read more about Lexi’s life.) My humans adopted Lexi from the animal shelter when they lived in Galveston, Texas. Lexi’s shelter surrender papers listed her name as Alexis, but after she was adopted she completely refused to respond to Alexis. Apparently she preferred to be called Lexi in her new life . . . and Lexi she was. So that’s Lexi, Harper Lee, and (one day) Tallulah. Yep, all of those would work for two-legged children. Let’s go back a little further.
What's in a Name 3 thek9harperlee
This is Talbot, the Golden Retriever who preceded me. Here she’s pictured on a very unusual snowy Christmas day on what was usually a quite tropical Galveston Island off the coast of Texas. She’s probably focused on the snowman’s carrot nose. Talbot loved carrots. My humans selected Talbot’s name about a year before they actually selected Talbot and–you might have guessed this already–she was named after Talbots, the ladies’ clothing store. Talbot is listed on several baby name websites, but it’s not considered to be a very popular name, perhaps because of its meaning: messenger of destruction. My human mommy would like to point out that Talbot was in no way a messenger of destruction.
What's in a Name 2 thek9harperlee
And finally, this is Sheffield. Before my human mommy found my human daddy, she found Sheffield at the animal shelter in Houston. My mommy wanted to get a Boxer puppy and she wanted to name him Boris after the tennis player Boris Becker. But then she started thinking about all the shelter dogs who needed loving homes, and that’s when she met Sheffield. Mommy thinks she found Sheffield’s name in an F. Scott Fitzgerald short story, but that was quite some time ago and her memory is a bit foggy. It’s probably safe to say that there are not too many parents currently naming their human children Sheffield.
 What's in a Name 5 thek9harperlee
So now I want to hear about your name. (If you’re a dog, you can answer these questions on your own, or you can have your human help you. And to all of my non-canine animal friends, please feel free to play along.) What’s your name, and is it on the list of Top 10 dog names? How did you get your name? I’m curious to hear all of your naming stories!

Rerun: Nap Time

Nap Time 1 thek9harperlee

My human mommy/blogging assistant is still on that “well deserved” (her words, not mine) vacation, so I’m rerunning another blog from the past. I’m really starting to miss Mommy. Ha ha ha . . . who am I kidding? I just said that in case she’s checking in. I’m having the time of my life. In fact, I’m having so much fun that I’m about to indulge in a little nap time. Zzzzzz . . .

My human mommy is fond of saying that nap time is wasted on children: It’s the busy and exhausted adults of the world who really need nap time. She may be right about that, but I can tell you that if humans prevented dogs from napping, there would be a canine uprising. I love my naps . . . and I can nap any time, any where, and in just about any position.

Puppy Nap thek9harperlee

I have been a napper since I was a tiny puppy. This photo was taken when I was exactly two months old. I truly believe that a marching band could have come across my patio and I would not have stirred.

Off-the-Bed Nap thek9harperlee

Some of my best naps happen when my humans leave the house in the middle of the day. Those naps are so good that they often start with all of me on my bed and end up with various parts of me falling off of my bed. Now that’s some good napping!

Disturbed Nap thek9harperlee

I am a little embarrassed to admit that sometimes when my humans come home I am napping so soundly that I do not even get up to greet them. (Please don’t share this information with the burglars.) That’s when they catch me mid-yawn as I am just exiting la la land. Oops.

Sun Nap thek9harperlee

My late canine sister Lexi taught me the incredible joy that is the sunshine nap. Lexi worshipped the sun. She would nap and bake until my humans swore they heard her sizzling. The weather now is just becoming ideal for napping in the sun, and I am looking forward to spending many hours in this exact position.

Under Desk Nap thek9harperlee

My all-time favorite place to nap is the study. I think all of my canine friends (and maybe even a feline or two) will agree that the harder our humans work, the more relaxed we pets become. My humans do a lot of hard work in the study, so I tend to do a lot of hard napping in that room. My naps often occur under the desk . . .

Desk Chair Nap thek9harperlee

 . . . but my favorite position for a study nap is crammed as close as I can possibly get to the base of the desk chair. There is a method to my madness: By trapping my humans at the desk (they cannot possibly move that chair when I really get next to it), I ensure that they will continue to work . . . thereby continuing some of the best of my naps.

Propped-Head Nap thek9harperlee

Just to prove to you that I truly can nap in almost any position, I present to you my propped-head nap. I love to prop my head against something–anything–when I nap. You can find me napping with my head propped against a door frame, the leg of a table, a human leg . . . just about anything that is available.

Calf Rope Nap thek9harperlee

Wow, all of this talk of napping has made me exceptionally tired. I think I’ll just get into my calf-rope position–where a gather all of my feet together–and settle in for a nice little snooze. Happy napping!

Meet Rudy

This is Rudy. I think Rudy may be in some sort of witness protection program. You see, he just mysteriously showed up at his humans’ house one day, and he does not like to have his picture taken. The minute he even senses the presence of a camera, he either turns his head or shields his face. Sorry, Rudy, I’m about to blow your cover.

Rudy used to live next door to me, but his humans built a new house, and now he lives across the street. I really miss seeing Rudy through my fence, but I don’t think Rudy misses me. I was never his favorite. Rudy was always obsessed with my late sister, Lexi. He would actually look right past me so that he could focus on Lexi.

Let me just refresh your memory. This was Lexi:

And this is me:

So please tell me why Rudy, a Border Collie who was bred to herd sheep, would look right past me (much more sheep-like than my late sister) and focus on Lexi. I think it’s just part of his witness-protection cover.

My mommy somehow managed to take this picture of Rudy. Treats might have been involved. Notice that he’s still trying to hide half of his face. Rudy may be an even bigger fan of LSU football than I am. Two seasons ago, he joined his humans on a road trip from Baton Rouge to Seattle to see the LSU Tigers take on the Washington Huskies (there’s another dog reference!). Rudy had quite the excellent adventure as he crossed the country for the Tigers’ first game of that season. You can read his travel blog here. He was gone for 26 days. That’s a long time. I sure was happy to see Rudy when he got home. Rudy was happy to see Lexi.

Rudy’s humans recently learned that he has lost the vision in his right eye. (That’s the one you can see here. Notice that he’s still not looking straight into the camera.) But, as most dogs do, he copes perfectly well. He’s learning that “home” refers to his new home. Instead of spending his days gazing at Lexi, he now passes his time spying on his new neighbor cats. And here’s the big news: Rudy, who used to be exclusively an outside dog, is now welcome in his new house. He has finally managed to train his humans. Good job, Rudy!

Goodbye, Lexi

Yesterday was a sad day. I had to say goodbye to my sister, Lexi.

Lexi had a good life. My parents adopted her from the Galveston Island Humane Society when she was eight or nine years old and gave her nearly seven years that she almost surely would not otherwise have had. Her home in Galveston had a front porch from which she could survey the comings and goings in her neighborhood. In Baton Rouge, she had a huge yard that offered ample opportunities for exploring . . . and Lexi loved to explore. When she injured her neck a couple of years ago and her front legs could hardly move, she started acupuncture treatments that made her better than new almost immediately.

Lexi was a good sister and a faithful companion. She was the leader and I was the follower. When my mommy had to say goodbye to Talbot, the Golden Retriever who preceded me, Lexi was a great comfort. Until the end, Lexi could stare into my daddy’s eyes and melt his heart.

I know that yesterday, when Lexi crossed the Rainbow Bridge, she immediately started chasing squirrels, something that she hadn’t really felt like doing recently. Then she found a pebble walkway warmed by the sun and stretched out for a nap. Lexi has rejoined Sheffield and Talbot, and I know that she is happy.

Road Trip: Sugar Land, Texas

Last week, I went over the river (Mississippi) and through the swamp (Atchafalaya) to visit my human grandparents in Sugar Land, Texas. My sister, Lexi, went to “camp,” which is what we call boarding at the vet. My sister is not quite the excellent traveler that I am, but we think she enjoys camp while we are away. She always comes home tired and hoarse. We suspect that she stays up all night drinking scotch, smoking cigarettes, and talking with all the other “campers.” But back to my road trip.

I had a very good time. I went for walks every day. There were so many new smells, especially at the mailbox poles. In my grandparents’ neighborhood, the mailboxes are at the street, so the poles are visited often and exceptionally intriguing. I had to smell every single one. It made my walks there a little longer but a whole lot more fun.

My grandparents have stairs at their house. I am very cautious on the stairs. I plan my trips carefully, and then I go one step at a time.

They also have a balcony (with an LSU flag, which I recognized immediately!). I enjoy sitting on the balcony and watching the world pass by.

Sniffing mailbox poles, maneuvering on stairs, and watching the world from a balcony can be quite exhausting for a Golden Retriever, so I’m glad my grandparents have a nice bed for naps. The bed actually belongs to their dog, Mille, who I’ll introduce in my next post. Mille is pleased to share.

On Sunday, we loaded the car for our trip home. I miss spending time with my grandparents, sniffing the mailbox poles, going up and down the stairs, watching the world from the balcony, and sleeping in Mille’s bed, but I was very happy to see my yard and my sister again!

My Sister, Lexi

Sorry. I know you were expecting another fun Golden Retriever photo. My apologies. This is my sister, Lexi. You have to meet her at some point.

A little history: Before my parents moved to Baton Rouge, they lived in Galveston, Texas. This is the porch of their 1907 home on Galveston Island. That’s Lexi on the left, Talbot, the Golden Retriever who preceded me, in the middle, and Sheffield, a Houston SPCA rescue, on the right. My parents adopted Lexi from the Galveston Island Humane Society in early 2006. Well, they didn’t exactly “adopt” Lexi. They were volunteering at an adoption event, and by the end of the day Lexi had not found a new home. Lexi was a little old (the shelter estimated her age to be about eight or nine) and not the most attractive dog (I’m just being honest), so my parents felt sorry for her. To make matters worse, in just a few hours my human daddy had developed some strange attraction to Lexi. (To this day, my human mommy calls Lexi my daddy’s “girlfriend.”) They decided to foster Lexi in hopes that she would find a good home. Lexi found a good home. Less that 24 hours after they became foster parents, my mommy and daddy signed the papers to become Lexi’s full-time, forever parents.
So, at this point we estimate Lexi’s age to be about 14 or 15. That’s a current photo of Lexi. She’s a little more gray, has a few less teeth, and is a little more set in her ways than the day she came to live with my parents. Since Lexi’s arrival, my parents have said very sad farewells to Sheffield and Talbot, but Lexi keeps ticking. My parents say that Lexi is an Island Terrier: she came from an island and she has a lot of terrier in her. Beyond that, we really don’t know much about Lexi’s past, but we do know that her present and her future look pretty good.