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 8: Earl the Squirrel

Birdie’s Back . . .

Today’s a great day for a hunt. I like to hunt. Do you like to hunt? I like to hunt leezards and tweeties and kitty cats and squirrels. Don’t worry. I never catch anything. Except Earl the Squirrel, because Earl never runs. Happy Saturday!

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 3: Drago the Dragon

Tallulah’s Turn . . .

Mondays can be really ruff, so it helps to have a super tough friend by your side. Meet Drago the Dragon, one of the toughest toys in our toy basket. He’s named after an area restaurant famous for their charbroiled oysters. Obviously, I can’t vouch for the oysters, but I can vouch for Drago the Dragon.

Drago joined our family this past Christmas and, since then, he’s brought uninterrupted daily joy. He hasn’t once been banished to the Land of Forbidden Toys or admitted to Squeaky Toy Hospital. Drago is a warrior. He’s made by a company called goDog, which, it turns out, also makes Furballz like Pearl the Purple Thing. (Time for a word from our editor, aka Mommy: This is not a paid ad for goDog. Tallulah and Birdie have absolutely no desire to work for a living. You did see Tallulah lounging on that chair, right?)

Still wondering how tough Drago really is? If he can survive a sister tug-of-war day after day after day without a single rip and still squeak, I think he can make it through practically anything.

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?

Toy Introductions Day 1: Pearl the Purple Thing

Happy October 1! Every day this month, Tallulah Bee and Birdie Blue will introduce you to their toys. (We could probably do this until the end of the year and not repeat a single toy.) Tallulah will start the introductions.

Tallulah: “This is Pearl the Purple Thing. You’ll notice our toys have names. Anyway, Pearl is a very special toy because she was a birthday gift to Harper Lee many years ago from one of our dearest Golden Retriever friends. That means she spent a lot of time in the Land of Forbidden Toys, also known as a cabinet in the utility room, and only Harper Lee got to play with her. Apparently, Birdie and I have a destructive streak. Pearl came out of the cabinet last weekend, and Birdie and I absolutely cannot get enough of her. So far, she’s unscathed.

“Birdie even invited her to join us on the balcony this morning. Pretty sure Pearl the Purple Thing enjoyed the view.”

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.