Thelma Lou

I pulled over by the bay in a spot where Ellie used to swim. Once upon a time, Ellie and I would fish in this same place. At night, I would set pinfish traps. Early in the mornings we’d go fishing. Ellie would sit beside me.

Thelma Lou rode in the truck. She sat in a passenger seat that once belonged to a good dog named Ellie Mae. Chew marks and all.

Thelma is only pup. Seven weeks old. She’s not even big enough to climb honest-to-goodness stairs yet. But she’s ready to give truck-riding a shot. Baby steps.

Ellie Mae lived for rides like this. To Ellie, watching traffic through vehicle windows was the best life offered. Throw in a jar of peanut butter, a few pig ears, a swim in the bay, and Ellie was in Beulah Land.

Thel is too short to see above the dashboard. But she tried. She stood with her front paws on the dash, watching the windshield.

She stared out my passenger side. She wagged her tail at stoplights. She smiled at cars. She licked the window. She chewed upholstery.

This truck’s interior is well-loved by Thelma Lou’s predecessor. The zig-zagged snot traces on the window are Ellie Mae’s—I will never wash them. The ripped chair cushion is Ellie Mae, too.

So today was a pretty day for driving. Thelma Lou had a lot to look at. Sun, trees, birds. There was almost too much to look at.

I went to the hardware store. I took Thelma inside with me. I carried her in my arms. Three employees wanted to hold her. One wanted a photo.

Later, Thelma and I stopped at a fast-food joint. She howled in a squeaky voice while I ordered at the speaker. It wasn’t a mature howl, more like a baby yelp, but Thel gets an “A” for effort.

The girls at the drive-thru window went nuts over her. They came outside to take turns holding her. Thelma Lou licked the makeup from one woman’s face, chewed the hair off another, and ripped the name tag from some poor kid’s shirt. Baby steps.

Still, I was proud of Thelma Lou. And I can’t explain this pride thing.

Long ago, I was proud of Ellie Mae, too. Whenever I would take her into public, I had the same high feeling a fella has when driving a ‘63 Stingray Corvette.

After lunch, Thelma Lou and I made the drive toward home. She slept in my lap while I steered. She got exhausted from the day’s excitement. She made water on the floorboard. No big deal.

Nothing a little WD-40 won’t get out.

I pulled over by the bay in a spot where Ellie used to swim. Once upon a time, Ellie and I would fish in this same place. At night, I would set pinfish traps. Early in the mornings we’d go fishing. Ellie would sit beside me.

Then, after I’d fished my heart out I’d throw Ellie’s toy duck. I’d hurl it toward the horizon. She’d swim toward China to retrieve it. Those are good memories.

Thel hopped out of the truck. I tried to help her toward the water, but she tripped on her oversized paws. So, I placed her into the water. She got as deep as her ankles before she got distracted. Namely, she started chewing on my pant legs.

Maybe we’ll try swimming lessons tomorrow.

Anyway, tonight, Thelma Lou has crawled onto my lap. She is asleep, making a gentle snoring sound. Her eyes are closed tight. She’s had a busy day. So have I.

The memory Ellie Mae is still with me. I know that my old dog is above the clouds, soaring. And I know I should be happy about that. But I’m not yet. I’m thinking about her most moments of the day.

Even so, I’m smiling. I’m smiling so big my cheeks are plumb sore. And that has to be a good sign. Holding Thelma Lou does something good to me.

It makes me just as proud as ever.

Baby steps.


  1. DIANA SARAFIN - May 1, 2018 5:40 am

    Wonderful story today Sean. You “ought to” get everything you have written about Ellie Mae and now the adventures of Thelma Lou and put it in a book. It would be a good book. I know how much you need Thelma Lou, I feel the same about my Chad.

  2. Leslie in NC - May 1, 2018 5:51 am

    And I’m smiling along with you, Sean! Even though I haven’t seen Thelma Lou, by your vivid descriptions of her, I can imagine those big floppy hound ears and humongous paws! I’m sure one day her endearing gentle snore will turn into the likes of a Poulan chain saw! Maybe you can post a video of her one day soon? Keep smiling and writing about your new baby. Ellie would like that.

  3. Beth Reed - May 1, 2018 5:53 am

    Yep Sean, Baby Steps. That’s how life rolls I am happy that you have Thelma Lou. You will always have Ellie Mae in your heart.
    It’s been a month today I lost my Cisco so I understand the not happy yet even though you have a new little girl.
    I went to the rescue center and found the cutest baby girl and want her so bad but she’s not doing well right now. Heart worms and some ugly parasites. Her little body is trying to respond to treatments but the center was honest with me and said they just don’t know if she’s going to come through this or not. I am already so attached to her. I named her Sasha.
    Make sure Thel gets all her shots and microchipped. I know she has a great home with you and Jamie.
    Best wishes for making great memories. Is there anyway you can post pictures of her and of Ellie Mae?
    Maybe there’s another blog out there I don’t know about. Take care and give Thel some cuddles from your fans. xxx Beth

    • Dogs Are Family - May 2, 2018 8:20 pm

      Dogs are resilient…especially if they know there is something worthwhile to hold on to with the hope of a new day and a new life. Heartworms and parasites are treatable. Continue to visit her and volunteer to walk or spend time with her. Speak hope and love into her ears and heart. Tell her that you want to bring her home with you as soon as she is in better health…and reassure her that after that, you will always be there for her…just tell her to hold on.

  4. Marsha Wigren - May 1, 2018 5:56 am

    Baby steps…I’m so happy you are taking them. I always find it sad that people say they won’t get another dog when their’s have passed away. Too painful, they say. I say a life without a dog would be lonely. Besides, I know my dogs over the Rainbow Bridge would want me to be happy, and like Charlie Brown says “happiness is a warm puppy.”

  5. Cathi - May 1, 2018 6:24 am

    Baby steps. I’ve been saying that a lot these days too. Thelma Lou makes me smile almost as much as you do.

  6. Pamela McEachern - May 1, 2018 7:17 am

    XOXO ?

    Peace and Love from Birmingham

  7. Sandi in FL - May 1, 2018 7:43 am

    Admit it, Sean. You are already spoling Thelma Lou with a capital S, which is certainly all right!
    Please post a little video of her with you and Jamie on YouTube, then let all of your readers know so we can view it!

  8. Lucinda - May 1, 2018 7:50 am

    Prayers that Sasha will soon be well and home with you. Thanks Sean for brightening my day as always.

  9. msjeanneq - May 1, 2018 8:41 am

    Thelma Lou has mighty big shoes to fill! But she will. Relationships like this take time. Your road and mine have been curiously the same these past weeks. We’ll both be fine. Be well – love Thelma Lou with abandon ! ❤️

  10. Bobby Hamil - May 1, 2018 9:31 am

    The adventures of Thelma Lou begin! Can’t wait to read the next chapters.

  11. Perri Williamson - May 1, 2018 9:49 am

    Welcome to the pack Thelma Lou. You’ve got mighty big paws to fill.

  12. Jan - May 1, 2018 11:06 am

    Glad you have a new love …. can’t ever take the place of Ellie Mae but building her own sweet little place in your heart!

  13. Leigh in stone mountain - May 1, 2018 11:23 am

    If there’s one thing I’ve learned in sixty some odd years, baby steps will always get you where you need to go ❤️

  14. Marcia De Graaf - May 1, 2018 11:46 am

    Thelma Lou is helping your heart to heal. She’ll never be Ellie Mae, but I can already see how she’s becoming a part of your life. I’m happy for you and for her.

  15. Dianne - May 1, 2018 11:47 am

    Great story, Sean. Thelma Lou will never be Ellie Mae, but rather she will just be herself…..Thelma Lou. I know, because we’ve been there three times. You’ll always love Ellie Mae for being Ellie Mae, but you will love Thelma Lou for just being Thelma Lou. Have a blessed and happy day!

  16. Mary Hack - May 1, 2018 11:47 am

    Ellie Mae sent Thelma Lou to you. Never doubt that.

  17. vaughnparkappDale - May 1, 2018 11:50 am

    I’ve only known one Thelma Lou in my life, and she was my mother. It takes a very special kind of someone to carry off a name like that these days and I know that your little one will do the name proud. Good bless you Sean.

  18. Jo Ann - May 1, 2018 11:51 am

    Puppy love. Ellie Mae loves her, too.

  19. Pam - May 1, 2018 11:52 am


  20. Martha - May 1, 2018 12:10 pm

    Congratulations! I’m n love with Thelma Lou already. Would love to see a picture of her.

  21. Frances Jones - May 1, 2018 12:53 pm

    Dearest Sean,
    Please add something to your posts about the peanut butter you feed Thelma Lou. Many people are unaware that some peanut butters are now sweetened with Xylitol. Your many readers need to be aware that some peanut butter can be dangerous for their dogs. You can read the information here.

    You have a beautiful heart, Sean, and I read your posts faithfully.
    May God bless you and Thelma Lou.
    Hugs and prayers,

  22. Sarah Loudin Thomas - May 1, 2018 12:54 pm

    It’s been almost ten years and there’s still a dirty smudge on the wall where my Sammy used to sleep behind a chair. Thistle has helped my heart heal and yet I have no plans to ever clean that wall.

  23. Connie Havard Ryland - May 1, 2018 12:55 pm

    Not much better than a sleeping puppy in your lap. Love and hugs.

    • Carl, another pilgrim - May 1, 2018 2:57 pm


  24. Pat - May 1, 2018 1:12 pm

    So happy you got your smile back!

  25. Carol ann ROTHWELL - May 1, 2018 1:16 pm

    She’ll be her own little and one day big person…
    Let her be Thel…..There was & is only one Ellie Mae….God gives us room in our hearts for all different people & furbabies… could a mother love more than one’s that they are all different and special in their own way!
    You & Thel will get there one baby step at a time.!!
    Love ya.?!

  26. muthahun - May 1, 2018 1:30 pm

    What a great day, Sean. Give your new girl an ear scratch for me and mind what Frances said about the peanut butter ’cause Xylitol – and some other people food – is pure poison to pups. Woodrow and Maggie say aRooooo!

  27. Dedra Russell - May 1, 2018 1:53 pm

    TL…….she’s somethin’❣️

  28. Pat - May 1, 2018 2:28 pm

    So happy to hear about the smile on your face.

  29. Edna B. - May 1, 2018 2:29 pm

    I love your story about Thelma Lou. There’s just nothing like a puppy. My little Pogo (12 years) makes my heart sing. He leaves doggy nose art on my car window, but I think it looks great! My little guy has a car seat so that he can see out the window. He still has to stand though to see out. Sean, we were meant to have doggies in our life. Without them would be so lonely. You have an awesome day, hugs, Edna B.

  30. Cindy - May 1, 2018 2:32 pm

    Thanks for putting yet another big smile on my face. What a way to greet the day! God has blessed you with both fond memories of sweet Ellie Mae and new adventures to come with this new cuddly adventure named Thelma Lou. “Oh, the places you will go…” says Dr. Seuss. Your perspective on life is God-given and he has blessed you to be a vessel for his word. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  31. Jack Quanstrum - May 1, 2018 2:33 pm

    Baby steps. I agree. Happy for you.

  32. Marty from Alabama - May 1, 2018 2:59 pm

    Baby steps. All our lives are made up of baby steps. One day little Thelma Lou will become big Thel, not a replacement for Ellie. Someone to step in where Ellie left off, continuing the legacy of man and his dog. You’re going to be fine, Sean. Baby steps.

  33. Heidi - May 1, 2018 3:15 pm

    You have made me teary eyed every single morning for a week……..and I look forward to it.

  34. Chris McAllister - May 1, 2018 4:21 pm

    Lucky Thelma Lou. So glad you have a new friend, Sean.

  35. Jean Totten - May 1, 2018 6:16 pm

    Because you are “over-the-top” in love with Thelm Lou, let me make an important suggestion….Do NOT feed your furbaby table scraps, bones, people food, etc. They help contribute to Pancreaitis. Limit the doggie treats, too. We found out the hard way with our 13-year old Zoey. She ended up in doggie hospital and cost us some major bucks. She lasted until she was 15, but the attack really did a number on her. Sent with caring thoughts….

  36. Lynn poling - May 1, 2018 6:25 pm

    Another heart warmer! I’m so happy you have Thelma Lou. Gods gift.

  37. Susan in GA - May 1, 2018 7:25 pm

    I understand the pride thing about riding in a ’63 Corvette. Did that once on a date and thought I was in “high cotton.” Thelma Lou will bring you a multitude of proud moments. I’m certain you’ve already figured out that mostly she will bring you unconditional love. Have a wonderful day 🙂

  38. Joe A. Turner - May 1, 2018 8:29 pm

    Bless your heart.

  39. Carol Williams’s - May 1, 2018 11:38 pm

    It truly hurts to lose a treasured pet. But I know without a doubt that a dog has a soul, and they are
    In Heaven with my daughter, Kelly. Carol williams

  40. Frieda Borntrager - May 1, 2018 11:45 pm


  41. Penn Wells - May 2, 2018 12:12 am

    Barney (and Andy!) would be SO PROUD! ?

  42. Alice - May 2, 2018 12:56 am

    I was so sad to hear about Ellie Mae but happy you now have Thelma Lou God Bless you thank you for the wonderful stories❤️❤️

  43. Pamela McEachern - May 2, 2018 3:06 am

    Just saying…my fur babies all have 2 names and they also have great nicknames so may I offer ya’ll a sweet nickmame for Thelma Lou. Hope you’ll consider LouLou, she just seems like she is a happy kind of girl!

    Peace and Love from Birmingham

  44. Tawanah Bagwell - May 2, 2018 3:14 am

    These stories about Ellie and Thelma Lou just touch my heart. You really have a way with words. I feel like I am riding in that old truck with y’all! Thank you.

  45. Peggy Windham - May 2, 2018 3:01 pm

    congratulations on your new baby! I hope she fills the hole in your heart left by Elle Mae!??

  46. Kathy Burgess - May 2, 2018 4:39 pm

    I lost my son David and my doggie Maggie. That was about 20 years ago. I still think of them and love them with every breath I take.

  47. Mary Ellen Hall - May 6, 2018 3:20 am

    “CONGRATULATIONS on your NEW ADDITION-Thelma Lou!!”?❤

  48. Gladys R Harris - May 8, 2018 11:05 pm

    Another GOOD have David Muir beat tonight. ha Blessings to you, your family and the newest addition. Ellie Mae is in our hearts.

  49. Katie K. - July 2, 2018 9:09 am

    I’m so happy you’ve found Thelma Lou. My heart just broke for you when Ellie Mae passed. My aunt once told me never to wait too long after a furry companion passed to find another one. After all, she said, the one that loved you before wouldn’t want you to be lonely. Thelma Lou sounds like a delight.

  50. unkle - July 2, 2018 5:20 pm

    I feel like I have almost met Thelma Lou , matter of fact i can almost feel her puppy teeth in my chin and wiskers! uk

  51. Midge - July 2, 2018 9:31 pm

    We lost our Bama Jean several years and many tears ago. Katie and Emmy help but some wounds remain tender. So good to hear Thema Lou is a balm for your heart.

  52. Peggy Savage - July 5, 2018 4:47 am

    There is no purer love than the love given by our furry companions. They give honestly and without reservation . During this chapter of my life, I am blessed to have the love of Lucy and Desi. They teach me how to love every day just as Thelma Lou is helping you to love through your loss. Continue to love… is so worth it…

  53. Gloria Rumph - February 18, 2019 5:08 pm

    Thankful you have Thelma Lou! She will never fill Ellie Mae’s place but she will build her own! Enjoy her ???


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