Today we’re celebrating sweet Miss Harper Lee’s 11th birthday. Seven years ago (with a little help from her human mommy/blogging assistant), Harper Lee posted her first ever birthday blog. More birthday blogs followed in 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018. Life got busy, as it sometimes does, and Harper Lee’s blogging assistant failed to share our celebration of Miss Lee’s 10th birthday in 2019. Rest assured, we had a fabulous time . . . including a weekend in the New Orleans French Quarter complete with a stay at the Ritz Carlton, where Miss Lee was quite the sensation.
While most ladies of a certain age might choose to slow down a bit, Harper Lee hit the road to her 11th birthday with a busy Visiting Pet Program (VPP) assisted therapy dog schedule. As a member of the MSY K9 KREWE, she brought smiles to travelers, employees, and flight crews at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport.
Through VPP’s Reading to Rover program, Harper Lee helped children at a local library learn to love books and reading and Golden Retrievers.
And once a month she shared her love with residents and staff at an area nursing home and patients, families, and staff at Children’s Hospital New Orleans. In June 2019, Harper Lee earned her AKC Therapy Dog and Canine Good Citizen titles and officially became Denham’s Harper Lee THD CGC.
Miss Lee even made an appearance on the Smoothie King Center big screen (lower right) before a New Orleans Pelicans basketball game. It was a busy year for our girl, so on December 31, 2019, she officially retired from therapy dog life. She’s spent the last few months enjoying her Golden years with leisurely neighborhood strolls, long naps on the lovely bed that the airport gave her as a retirement gift, and basically doing what she wants to so when she wants to do it.
With all of the ups, Harper Lee’s road to her 11th birthday also came with a few bumps. She’s battled some skin allergies and, much to her disgust, has had to endure fairly routine baths. On the bright side, she now gets to eat alligator kibble. Miss Lee highly recommends alligator kibble. She’s also had some pretty challenging UTI and bladder issues, but a battery of tests at the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine indicates that little Miss Harper Lee is, overall, in fairly tremendous shape.
So today we celebrate the past 11 years of life with Harper Lee and we set out on the road to her 12th birthday celebration. The events around the world over the last few months have reinforced one certainty: Nothing is ever certain. We’ll cherish each and every moment along the way, and we will be forever grateful to all of you for joining.
Miss Harper Lee’s Family
. . . Tallulah and I celebrated our own little local holiday miracle: the completion of three nightmare traffic projects.
Months ago a small problem developed with the pipes beneath one of our neighborhood streets. Then it got worse, and then it became a major flood. For some odd reason, the humans in charge didn’t seem to have a solution. Just when it seemed the situation couldn’t get more frustrating, there was a natural gas leak in the middle of the night. And that’s when the humans in charge got serious about things. They tore out all the paving for an entire block, installed huge pipes beneath the ground, and covered it all with brand new pavement. The whole ordeal has been such a hassle that Tallulah and I really think the humans living on that block should close the street–just for the evening–and have a blowout celebration.
Our second little local miracle involved a street that has been under construction since before Tallulah was born. When Tallulah came into the world almost five years ago, the city of New Orleans was deep into a major drainage project designed to take water from areas near the Mississippi River, carry it through massive culverts, and eventually drain it into Lake Pontchartrain. Sounds great–and it is great and we’re very thankful and goodness knows the city needed some drainage improvements–but those massive culverts just happened to run beneath the neutral grounds of three very busy Uptown avenues. (New Orleanians call that grassy area between two sides of a street the neutral ground.) It was quite the ongoing nightmare. The one closest to us just happened to be the last to be completed; but days before Christmas, crews finished the striping, opened both lanes of traffic in both directions, and completely sodded the neutral ground for the entire length of the street. Tallulah and I are looking forward to long leisurely strolls on our beautiful new neutral ground.
And to complete the trifecta of traffic project miracles this holiday season, we finally witnessed the repair of the lights at a fairly busy intersection. The lights had been out for what seemed life eons, and reports of accidents and near misses circulated throughout the neighborhood. We were told that the city was waiting for a replacement part, which our human Mommy suspects was being delivered from Mars. And then one day, as she walked home from her errands, she saw the light . . . or rather the traffic lights actually working. She was so excited, she hugged the repairman who was there to do the work. Tallulah and I suspect that was the first hug he ever received for fixing a traffic light.
Tallulah and I are beyond thankful for these local holiday miracles, which are sure to add immeasurably to the safety and enjoyment of our daily walks. Here’s to no more detours in 2019!
. . . Tallulah and I took a moment to reflect on 2018. It’s been a great ride, and we cannot wait to see where the road takes us in 2019. 😉
Wishing our friends a happy and safe New Year’s Eve and best wishes for a fabulous New Year!
. . . I got my gameface on and prepared myself to cheer for my local National Basketball Association team, the New Orleans Pelicans. It’s not always easy being a fan, and lately it’s been particularly frustrating. The Pelicans opened this season with a quick 4-0 start, and then the wheels kind of fell off. One of our best players injured a finger, requiring surgery and a couple of months on the bench. He’s still out. Then another starter did something to his ankle, so we haven’t seen him for a while. Meanwhile trade rumors swirl around our franchise player, Anthony Davis. The Pelicans currently find themselves on an 0-5 skid with a record of 15-20 and currently in 14th place.
But here’s the thing about being a fan: You love your team, through the highs and the lows. You support your players and coaching staff. Sometimes that means giving them a little tough love, but it always means remaining loyal . . . and as a Golden Retriever I know a little something about loyalty. So tonight, as my New Orleans Pelicans return to their home court to start a three-game post-Christmas homestand, I’ll be cheering them on and believing that anything is possible. Because that’s what a fan does.
. . . I went to the airport. I’ve been going to the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport at least once a week since May as a member of the newly formed MSY K9 KREWE. For two hours each Thursday, I walk through the airport terminal and its concourses (with my human mommy at the other end of my leash) greeting passengers, employees, flight crews, and people waiting for arriving loved ones.
Today was a day made for airport therapy dogs: post-Christmas and pre-New Year travelers were slowed by a line of storms through the middle of the country. Ticket and gate agents, flight attendants and pilots, TSA officials and hospitality workers sometimes became the objects of their frustration. So I did my thing: I let everyone who wanted to pet me. I let them talk to me about anything other than delayed flights and crowded gates. And one by one, I made people smile. I made them relax. I made their travel experience–at least for a moment–a little more Golden.
I love being an airport therapy dog. I’ll share more of my experiences soon, but for now I’m off to bed. Making an entire airport smile today made me pretty sleepy. 🙂
Spring has sprung at my house, and I couldn’t be happier. My human mommy and I have spent our ninth year together in the garden . . . weeding, trimming, digging, planting, and enjoying the fruits of our labor.
I’ve been Mommy’s Golden green thumb in the garden since I was just a tiny puppy. Before we moved to New Orleans, we had a really big garden. It took days and days and days and days to get it into shape.
Our garden is smaller now–just a few pots and a little groundcover and mulching. In many ways, it’s a much simpler task . . .
. . . and in other ways, it’s more of a challenge. But I’ve been working closely with Tallulah to teach her the ropes and I think she has a bright and sunny future as a Golden gardening assistant.
What’s better than one Golden in the garden? Two Goldens in the garden! Tallulah and I wish you a very happy spring, filled with warm breezes and vibrant blooms. And we wish our human mommy a lifetime of Golden green thumbs in her spring garden. Happy spring!
A note from Miss Harper Lee’s humans . . .
We spent St. Patrick’s Day on Cloud Nine because today we celebrated Miss Harper Lee’s ninth birthday. We’re counting on a little luck of the Irish to bring us many more happy and healthy years with our sweet girl. Cheers to you, Miss Lee. You fill our home with joy and love and peace . . . and you mean more to us than we could ever express.
It’s been a minute . . . or two . . . since I’ve seen you. When last we visited, the new year had just begun and I shared those silly resolutions that my human mommy had for me. No worries; that foolishness didn’t last through the first week of 2018. So what in the world have I been doing for the past couple of months?
Baby New Year played a cruel trick on us in early January with an unusually cold blast of Arctic air. Our lows dipped into the 20s for several nights in a row and the highs didn’t get above freezing. I know that doesn’t sound too impressive to my friends in colder climates, but for a couple of southern Golden girls living in New Orleans, Louisiana, it was pretty chilly. We had ice on the sidewalks and broken water pipes throughout the city. On the positive side, Tallulah and I were cordially invited by the humans to join them in their bed. Turns out Golden Retrievers can be super heat generators and quite in demand during severe cold snaps.
Fortunately, that cold snap didn’t last very long and by late January Tallulah and I were out on the town. We joined the humans for a day in the French Quarter in honor of our city’s 300th birthday. Here in New Orleans we love a party, so we’ll be celebrating throughout the year.
By early February, the humans were deep into Mardi Gras madness. We didn’t see them much. It seems like every time Tallulah and I woke up from a nap, they were headed out the door to another parade. And when we did see them, we hardly recognized them. It was just a blur of wigs, sequins, and beads.
As soon as the last piece of king cake was consumed and all the Mardi Gras decorations were safely stored, the humans packed their bags and flew south . . . all the way to Hotel Punta Islita in Costa Rica. They awoke to this magnificent view every day, spent hours on the beach, kayaked to the ocean, learned about macaw rescue and howler monkey habits, and generally fell in love with the country and its people. Mommy said the only thing that could possibly have made their trip better would have been a couple of Golden Retrievers. I’m assuming she meant Tallulah and me.
The humans returned from their getaway just in time to join me at the my Visiting Pet Program annual meeting and picnic. My fellow volunteers and I devote the year to bringing love and leaving smiles at nursing facilities, hospitals, summer camps, universities, and conventions. Tara’s Toast to Volunteers gives us an opportunity to celebrate the people and pets that make the program such a success. This year, we got to ham it up in a photo booth and visit with a pet psychic. She told my humans that I’ve lived many lives, which has helped to make me very wise. I think she nailed it.
So now you know what I’ve been doing. I’ve missed you, and I’m eager to catch up. What have you been doing?
Last night, Tallulah and I accompanied our humans on a little stroll to see Ghost Manor. Let me take just a moment to state the obvious: My family really, really needs to step up its SELFIE game. Can you believe that we took literally dozens of selfies and this is the best we have to offer? This selfie is, as the kids would say, definitely not on fleek. But it got just a little embarrassing to continue the attempts as the crowds milled about, so this is what you get. Selfie failure aside, Ghost Manor at night was even better than I’d imagined when we visited a couple of weeks ago in the daytime. (Click here to refresh your memory.) The skeleton quartet serenaded us from the porch. A beautiful lady danced in an upstairs room . . . before she was consumed by flames. And all the while giant eyeballs peered down on us from above. Creepy!
OK, friends, we really need your help. What are your best secrets to capturing the perfect selfie?
Quick, Mommy. Just snap the picture. You’re interrupting my favorite TV SHOW with this little photo session. It should come as no surprise that this NOLA girl is a pretty big fan of NCIS: New Orleans. After all, it’s filmed in my hometown. The storylines are pretty good, but mostly I watch to see if I can identify the locations and spot some of our more famous residents. I’ve even seen the NCIS: New Orleans crew filming around my neighborhood while I’m enjoying my morning walks. I like to slow down and show them my pretty side. You never know when there might be a casting call for a Golden Retriever, and I’m always ready for my close-up. As for Tallulah, she’s more into YouTube videos. She could watch puppies and chicks and bunnies all day long, but her nose smudges on the television screen can be a bit of a problem. 😉
I hope you have some super fun plans for the weekend. We’re expecting a rainy one . . . the perfect excuse to snuggle on the couch and catch up on a little television viewing. Cheers!