Waggleview® with author Lee Gaitan
The Dog Owner: Lee Gaitan has worn many hats in her 25 years as a professional communicator, from public relations writer and talk show host to educator and stand-up comedienne. She is the author of two books, Falling Flesh Just Ahead and My Pineapples Went to Houston—Finding the Humor in My Dashed Hopes, Broken Dreams and Plans Gone Outrageously Awry. She has also authored chapters in the bestselling books, The Divinity of Dogs and Feisty After 45. Her work has appeared on The Huffington Post, Erma Bombeck’s Writers’ Workshop, Fab Over Fifty, Better After 50, Mothers Always Write, Midlife Boulevard and The Good Men Project.
She is the proud mother of daughter Torrie and stepsons Jorge Andres and Eduardo and she now lives in suburban Atlanta with her husband Jorge and, of course, her doggie Harper.
Connect with her at
Dog type and Name: A Lab mix, Harper
Q: Why did you choose this dog?
It had been about two years since my last dog, a lab mix, had died. It was the longest period of time I’d ever gone without having a dog, but my work schedule at the time and family illnesses had made it a bad time to bring a new dog into the situation. I missed having a dog so much that I became a dog stalker—I would cross and recross the street or walk blocks out of my way in hopes of getting to pet a dog that I saw someone walking. Finally, in the spring of 2014, my personal situation eased and I immediately began thinking about getting a dog. I didn’t care what kind, but my husband really wanted another lab or lab mix. I walked in the house one day after getting good news on a medical test and started searching a lab rescue site. There he was—the face of our new child, Harper. There were several other dogs on the site, but Harper’s sweet face was all but screaming, “Kiss me!” Two days later, that’s just what I did and I haven’t stopped kissing that sweet boy since!
Q: Do you talk to your dog? If so, what do you talk about?
I talk to him all the time. I may tell him how my day was or what’s on my mind, but more often than not, our talks are for having fun. I make up silly songs with his name in them and I do a lot of mom talk, like “Who is my good boy? Harper is my good boy!” With no children left at home, I need someone to mother and Harper is more than willing to soak up words of praise—or tolerate a bad rhyme scheme—especially if accompanied by a belly rub and a good ear scratching!
Q: If he could talk to you, what would he say?
“It’s me—I’m your good boy! Haven’t you figured that out yet? For heaven’s sake, quit asking who the good boy is! Now, when’s dinner?”
Q: If your dog had a job or career, what would he be doing?
I’d say competitive eater, but I guess that’s more of a hobby than a profession, although he’s quite good. He excels at yard monitoring, so maybe a security professional. Every evening as soon as it’s dark, he goes to the back door and whines to go out. He sits in the back yard motionless and stares intently into the darkness, on the look-out for any intruder into his domain–mainly the possum that sometimes walks across the top of our fence. He will sit at attention for more than an hour, just waiting, and we have to drag him inside if we’re going to bed. Unless, of course, he sees the possum, in which case he goes absolutely berserk and good luck getting him inside then!
Q: What lesson in life has your dog taught you?
Harper is a walking lesson in setting positive expectations. When we first come home or get out of bed in the morning, he INSISTS on being petted immediately before we do anything else. He will park himself in front of us, blocking our path, until we have no choice but to pet him. At the park, he readily sidles up to every stranger and plants his head under their hand, with tail wagging and eyes smiling. Harper clearly expects to be petted/adored and nine times out of ten, that’s exactly what he gets!
Q: How does your dog inspire you?
Another very important lesson Harper teaches is not to let anyone else define who you are. At 70+ pounds, Harper is not the textbook definition of a lap dog, but he refuses to accept that. Despite his heft, he sees himself as a lap dog and behaves accordingly. He climbs up on me, gets a little irritated and huffy that there’s not much room for him (which he clearly interprets my shortcoming, not his!) and eventually maneuvers himself into a somewhat comfortable position, often with an appendage or two hanging off the edge. As I said, Harper is an excellent eater and we really have to watch his diet because he can easily gain too much weight and negatively impact his health. I don’t advocate body shaming your dog, but let’s just say that until Harper I didn’t know it was possible for fur to have stretch marks! But he sees himself as the perfectly sized lap dog and, guess what, that’s where he ends up!
Q: Where is your dog’s favorite place to go with you?
Paws down, it’s the dog park.
Q: Who or what does your dog find the most interesting?
Food and the fence-walking possum! I have never, ever seen a more food-motivated dog IN MY LIFE!
Q: What is the most annoying thing other dog owners do?
I have no tolerance for people who do not clean up after their dog at the dog park.
Q: What does being a responsible dog owner mean to you?
There can be a lot of expenses and other sacrifices associated with having a dog, so people need to be prepared to make the financial and time commitment necessary to keep their dog healthy and safe. That could mean anything from training classes to fencing the yard to buying special food. If people can’t handle that kind of responsibility, they should not have a dog. Then, of course, comes the pay-off—the playing, hugging and snuggling.
Q: Do you ever dress up your dog? If so, as what?
Harper prefers to go au natural.
Q: How has your dog changed your life?
Harper has filled the dog-shaped hole in my heart. He has brought back all the joy, love and playfulness that I was so missing during my two dog less years.
Q: Does your dog have a philosophy of life?
Always sleep within earshot of your dad opening the potato chip bag. That way you get to the fallen crumbs before the broom or dustpan.
Q: I love my dog because he is my sweet boy and he never tires of being petted and loved. I couldn’t have a dog that wasn’t comfortable receiving and responding to affection.
Q: Have you ever made dog treats for your dog? If so, please share your recipe.
I have never made my own, but something he loves is when I put a glop of frozen peanut butter in his Kong. He works and works to get it out. His foster mom told me that trick.
WAGGLEVIEW®: These interviews are focused on leaders in business, the arts, the community, or at home. My hope in doing this is to present remarkable and respected people in their community with their beloved pets. Who can resist reading about pets and what these people do? This is a platform for people to display their talents; their own business, a new book, a deeply loved passion for a charity or their own job. It also shows their love for their pet!
Thank you Lee for taking the time to participate in the Waggleview®.
So, does your dog have a philosophy of life? Join in the discussion and please comment below.
Have you missed some waggleviews? Check out this one with mystery writer Susan Israel.
Also read Lori’s latest essay on what do you do now that you have a graduate?