Dear Santa Claws,
Some people don’t believe in you, but I do, because last year you brought me a tube of tennis balls, some yummy treats, a new dog sweater, and a plush, fleecy blue sheep that goes “Baaa-aaa-aaa” when I squeeze and chew on him. I stayed awake a long time next to the fireplace on Christmas Eve, waiting for you to come down, but I never did see you. Just my human Mom and Dad putting some packages under the tree. Thank you for those nice gifts last year! You are pretty special if you can sneak in past me!
This year I only want one thing for me for Christmas, and I promise, promise, promise that I’ve been good. My human Mom and Dad and sister and brother need your help a lot more than I do. See, Santa, my Dad lost something that was important to him this summer… something called a “job.” I looked for it all over the house and yard, but I don’t know what a job looks or smells like, so I couldn’t find it. He stayed upset for a very long time, and Mom got upset too, and they yelled at each other, and my brother and sister cried, and I don’t really understand.
Right after that, Dad started staying home all the time and worrying and drinking beer and yelling and sleeping too much. Mom went out and found a different “job” but I guess it isn’t a very special one, like the one Dad lost. She stays gone all day, and when she comes home, they fight and the kids run upstairs and shut their doors. Mom said she is worried they will lose their house. But how can you lose a house? You’re right there, inside it, and it’s much too big to bury, or carry off and leave somewhere! Humans are so weird, and I love them, but I don’t know why they act the way they do.
Then this week, Dad put my leash on me, and got my fleecy blue sheep, and put us in his car and brought us to this strange place. He gave me to a lady here, who brought me back to a concrete run with chain-link fence walls, and stainless steel bowls of food and water, and a Kuranda dog bed. The lady put me in here and closed the gate. And then my Dad went out to his car and got in and drove away without me. I could not believe it!
There are a bunch of other dogs of all kinds and sizes in this place, staying in runs just like mine. Some are just puppies, and some are really old, a few are sick or hurt, and some are kind of wild and a little scary, but a lot of them are just regular, nice dogs like me. Some of the dogs cry all the time, or bang on their gates, or pace in their runs, or just sit and stare, and the baby puppies huddle up together on their Kuranda beds and whimper or sleep. Even with lots of other dogs nearby, I’m lonely and afraid, and this place smells like pee, and like fear, even though the people clean it a lot. I am glad I have my fleecy blue sheep that you brought me last year, but I miss my family really bad. A few nice people have come in to visit me and the other dogs, and the kennel lady and her friends have fed us and taken us out to walk in a small yard with a big, tall fence. Sometimes, a kennel person comes and takes away one of the dogs on a leash. Sometimes, the dog who leaves goes out the front door after a while, and gets into a car with a new person! That’s what I want! But sometimes they walk back to a gray door at the far end of the dog runs. The dog and the person go in, but only the person comes out. Sometimes, when the person comes back out by herself, she has a red, puffy face and salty water coming out of her eyes…. Humans look and act so strange when they are unhappy. I am afraid I might have to go through that door, and make the lady unhappy. Santa, I don’t want to!
So Santa, I don’t think my Mom and Dad are coming back to get me, because Dad can’t find his “job.” I PROMISE I didn’t take it, or bury it, or chew it up! But that’s why he brought me to this place and left me, because maybe it’s my fault…. Could you please bring him a new one that he’ll really like? And some nice toys and treats to make my Mom, brother, and sister happy? If they are happy, maybe they will want me again. If they don’t come back for me, could you please bring me the one thing I really need for Christmas: a new human to love me and give me a home? No one is mean to me in this place, and I get food and treats, but I don’t like it here, because all of the dogs are sad and afraid. And because of the gray door.
Santa, if you are looking for a loving dog, I could even come home with you. But I heard it’s really cold up there where you live. I would definitely need my warm sweater from last Christmas! Could you bring all these other dogs here some new people, or something nice to make them feel better, too?
It’s Christmas Eve and I’m afraid I waited too late to talk to you. You may not have time to give anything to me and the other dogs here. So I’m sending this message to Jesus too. His birthday is tomorrow, you know! If you don’t have time to help me or think about me, I hope that maybe He can.
A lot of people who don’t believe in you also don’t believe in Jesus either, because they say they can’t see Him or hear Him, so he can’t be real. But I know He is real, and I have seen Him and heard Him! He is around all the time, not just at Christmas. At night while I am asleep, Jesus comes to talk to me and He tells me that He loves me, no matter what else happens to me with humans. He says that a time will come when I get to come live with Him forever, and when that time comes, I’ll have to leave my body behind, but I will never be afraid, or lonely, or bored, or unwanted, or in trouble for something I did, ever again. I would like to live with Jesus because He makes me feel very safe when He is with me. But I don’t know about leaving my body behind, and not being able to get back into it if I wake up.
Do you think it is cold and snowy where Jesus lives, just like where you live? I’m sorry I have so many questions, Santa, but there is not much to do here in this place, except think, worry, remember, and wish. There isn’t a chimney in this place, so I don’t know how you will get in. Maybe this time I will stay awake long enough to see you! If not, I will fall asleep and Jesus will come talk to me while I dream.
Santa, if I don’t get my family back, or a new human, or you don’t take me home with you… if I have to take a walk tomorrow through the gray door, or if I get to go with Jesus, and I have to leave my body behind… will I have to leave my fleecy blue sheep behind too? If I do, can you take it, and give it to another dog who is feeling lonely?
I hope you have a safe trip tonight, Santa. I left some food in the bottom of my bowl for you, and a biscuit under my Kuranda bed. I promise I will not bark if I get to see you, because it would spoil the surprise for all the other dogs.
I love you, Santa Claws. Thank you.
This article was reprinted with permission from Ellen Graben, and was originally written and posted on the crass menagerie