Dec 10th – Jessie goes to a Santa Claus convention.

Jessie and Cris reached the auditorium where the workshops were being held a little after 8 a.m. After a hearty meal, they went towards the same auditorium they were in the previous day. Santa confidently walked up to the stage, Jessie following him on the lead. When he reached the top of the stairs he took off the lead and talked to Jessie. “Don’t run off Jessie, there’s going to be a lot of noise in here shortly.” Santa walked to the podium and cleared his throat into the microphone calling the Santas in the audience to attention.

“Today we are going to cover three of the basics for a good Santa. First, the “Ho, Ho, Ho”, two distribution of toys and three child management. This workshop deals with learning to create a deep and convincing Ho,Ho,Ho in order to convince the children. Let’s begin.” Santa placed his notes on the table and walked out in the middle of the stage without the microphone. He held his hand over his stomach and cleared his throat. He rubbed his stomach and then in a deep baritone he bellowed “Ho,Ho,Ho.”

Jessie’s ears perked up. She had never heard Santa speak with such emphasis. Although he did not carry a microphone, Jessie was sure that the sound travelled throughout the auditorium. She lay down with her head on her paws and waited to see what would happen next.

“Tone does not matter. Although normally the words are produced in a deep baritone, they can be convincing in other voices. The trick is to take a deep breath and to use your stomach muscles to produce a deep and rich sound that travels across the room and pulls attention to your voice. Now, let’s begin. Find a partner. We are going to practice together.”

There was a general shuffling in the room as the Santas put themselves in groups. When Santa thought that everyone had a partner he went to the microphone so that he could be heard. “Now, I want you to take turns. We’ll practice for 10 minutes then move on. If anyone has questions I’m available at the front.”

The group erupted into a general clamour. Jessie could hear the sound of multiple Ho’s ringing through the room. The words weaved themselves together.

The sound was no intense that it hurt Jessie’s ears and she lay down and put her paws over her head.

Santa walked over. “I thought this might happen. Molly designed these ear protectors for you. I’ll put them on you Jessie. When the sound has decreased I’ll take them off for you.” He placed pink, woolly ear protectors over Jessie’s head and gave her a pat. He then went to the microphone and stood leaning against the podium waiting to see if there would be any questions.

Jessie watched the audience. It was strange to see gaping mouths throughout the room but not be able to hear anything. She watched the expressions of the Santas in the audience. Although, some of the Santas were definitely better at the belly laugh, all seemed to be enjoying themselves immensely.

When 10 minutes were finished Santa called the auditorium to order and he pulled off Jessie’s ear protectors and walked back to the podium.

“Now, let’s talk about the distribution of toys. Although, I will be delivering the main load of toys using my distribution company I understand that a number of you would like to have us produce toys for some charities. I am happy to say that I have checked with my head elf and it looks like we will be able to produce the toys free of charge.”

The Santas stood up and applauded. Several whistles could be heard in the back of the room.

“Thank-you, we are glad to help. It will require some paperwork on your part however. We want to ensure that our resources are used wisely. Forms will be available at the door, or you can contact Molly at the number in your orientation package, and she will be happy to provide you with details.” Santa took a drink from a glass and drank deeply.

Now, the child management portion of the program will be covered by psychology professor William B Frost. His presentation will be after lunch. Please go to the main dining room. The buffet is set up there for you.

Santa picked up is papers and walked over to Jessie. We’re skipping the workshop this afternoon. I’ve heard Frost’s lecture about 50 times now and I don’t think I can sit through it again. We do have to enjoy the buffet though. The cook tells me their serving salmon.

Jessie licked her lips. She loved salmon. She stood up and trotted behind Santa. She still wasn’t sure why Santa needed all these Santa copy-cats but she was sure that someday he would tell her. Right now, she decided that she liked Santa conventions. There was good friends, lots of people who are happy, and hands to pet her head. Jessie hoped that Santa would let her go with him to the next convention.

Dec 9th – Jessie goes on a Santa Claus Fun Run

Jessie looked out of the plane as she and Santa traveled above the tundra.He was taking Jessie to an annual Santa Claus convention in Santa Claus, Indiana. Santa was on the board of trustees this year, and was presenting at the conference. Because of his schedule the conference, which was usually held in October, was being held in December.
Jessie was  excited about the plane ride and  her tail whipped back and forth as she watched the scenery go by. She didn’t know what a Santa Claus conference was, but she was excited to be going with Santa  She’d go anywhere with him.
The plane ride took several hours. When the pair finally reached a landing strip in Indiana, Santa called Jessie to wait on the plane. He headed to the back of the plane with a large bag and went into the tiny washroom. He closed the door and soon Jessie could hear him banging against the side of the tiny room.
Santa soon reappeared but he no longer looked like Santa. Jessie had to really look at him to know it was her Santa.
Santa was now dressed in a red and white fur lined suit. He had a jaunty red and white cap. He had a white wig protruded and a fake white beard.
“Ho, Ho, Ho, Jessie. This is my Santa suit for the convention. It’s nothing like the suit I really wear Christmas Eve but it’s what is expected at the convention. Now come here please. For today, I need to put you on a lead. I don’t want you to get lost at the Santa Claus run.”
Jessie obediently came to Santa and had a lead put on. She didn’t know what a Santa Claus run was but she certainly didn’t want to get lost.
Santa led Jessie out of the plane and into an awaiting limousine. Within 5 minutes they were at the Santa Claus convention headquarters, and Jessie sat down and stared. From every corner of the street people dressed like Santa were walking towards an auditorium. The sea of red and white strained Jessie’s vision, and she had to close and open her eyes several times before her eyes adjusted.
Santa led Jessie into the auditorium and up to the front. Santa shook the hands of two other men dressed in Santa suits, and then introduced them to Jessie. The men smiled at Jessie, and then they turned towards the audience  of Santas who had all piled into the auditorium.
Jessie looked at the men and women. She had never seen so many Santas and she didn’t understand what the real Santa was doing at a Santa Claus convention. Why did he need to meet these men?
Jessie lay down on the floor and watched Santa. He was fumbling through his papers with a pair of wire rimmed glasses perched on the tip of his nose. He smiled at Jessie and then began talking to the men in the audience. “Welcome all to the 150th annual Santa Claus convention. I’m happy to have Santa Claus, Indiana host the event again this year. They’ve been a great host so far. Let’s give them a round of applause for all the help the town has given us in setting up the convention this year.”
The audience clapped their hands and yelled “Ho, Ho, Ho”. Jessie was startled by the sudden noise and jumped and hid behind Santa. This elicited laughter from the audience. They good naturedly stopped clapping and waited for Santa to talk.
“This is Jessie. As you know I am the real Santa Claus, and Jessie will be riding in the sleigh with me this year. It’s time that Santa Claus gets a companion.”
There wasmore  laughter and applause and a Santa in the back of the room yelled “Welcome Jessie.”
Jessie peered out from behind Santa’ legs and wagged her tail. She sat down on the stage. and  cocked her head back and forth as she heard a chorus of “Welcome Jessie’s” from across the auditorium.
Santa began to speak. “I believe I can speak for Jessie when I say thank-you for your warm welcome. Now, let’s get down to business. We will have the Santa Claus oath, and then we will have our annual run. Tomorrow our workshops will occur at the local recreation centre. If you haven’t already please pick up your orientation package in the lobby. It contains your room reservation and workshop schedule. Now for the oath.”
Santa cleared his throat and began speaking in time with hundreds of Santas. The sound reverberated throughout the auditorium. The voices melded into one. Jessie listened to the words.
“I, Santa Claus pledge that I will bring the magic of Christmas to all the children of the world.
I, Santa Claus pledge to represent Santa Claus in a dignified and jolly fashion.
I, Santa Claus pledge that I will bring no harm to a child placed in my care.
I, Santa Claus pledge to treat the red suit with dignity and care.
I, Santa Claus pledge to bring the spirit of Christmas to all whether child or adult.
Ho, Ho, Ho’
Jessie watched as the hundreds of Santa in the audience turned and hugged each other. She cocked her head, and looked at Santa. He had moved forward again and was motioning for the Santas to quiet down.
“It’s time for the Santa fun run. As you know this year we are raising money for pet shelters across North America. Please remember to turn in your pledge sheets at the starting line. Everyone to enjoy yourselves and remember that the public is watching.”
The microphone screeched in Jessie’s ears as Santa put it back on the stand. He turned to Jessie. “Come on girl. We’re going on our first fun run for the year. Let’s go and get some exercise.”
Jessie whined, jumped up and licked Santa on the face. She poked the lead he was holding with her nose, and sat down at his heels looking up in his face. Santa laughed and then gently led the dog away. They walked out the front doors of the auditorium and walked down to the centre square of the town. Hundreds of people had gathered to take pictures of the Santa Claus gathering. When a news reporter saw Santa and Jessie he snapped a picture and then came over to interview the pair.
Jessie listened to Santa speak. He talked for some time about the convention, the task of being Santa Claus, and the fun run. But, Jessie was startled when Santa told the story of how he had met Jessie. The reporter asked if he could take a picture of Santa and Jessie together. Santa agreed and leaned down so that he sat beside Jessie. He hugged the dog and Jessie licked his hand while the photographer took a number of photos. When he finished, Santa stood and led Jessie to the starting line.
Santa and Jessie stood at the start of the Fun Run line. All of the Santa’s were packed into a small square waiting. Then, from the speakers, Christmas carols began to play. At the first melodic start of the songs the Santas began to jog down the street. Jessie was thrilled. She loved to run. She loved to stretch her long limbs and have the wind blow through her floppy ears. There can’t be anything better than running with your best friend, she thought.
The run turned out to be 5 kilometres and it flew by for Jessie. Several Santa’s tried to pass Santa, and Santa would have let them, but Jessie urged him on. She wanted to make him proud. At the finish line, Santa and Jessie crossed the ribbon first. They were encircled by warm hugs by the others who finished the race close behind.
Santa and Jessie were called up to a platform where they were to be awarded their prize. When Jessie heard they had won something she hoped that it was food. She could currently do with a snack.
Jessie watched as a young woman dressed in funny clothes walked up to them. She wore green pointy shoes, tights and a pointy hat. Her dress was half red and half green. She also wore plastic ear pieces to make her ears pointy. She looked rather peculiar.
The young woman walked up to Santa, gave him a kiss on the cheek, and presented him with a cheque for $5000.00. Santa leaned down and talked to Jessie. “What do you think Jessie? You actually won the money. You pushed me on when I would have let others win. Should we give the money to the local animal shelter or do you want to keep it?”
Jessie jumped up and gently took the cheque from Santa’s hand. She took it over to the strangely dressed woman, dropped it at her feet and yipped.
“There we go then,” said Santa. “We’d like to donate our winnings to The Santa Claus animal shelter. “Loud cheers erupted from around the square.
Santa leaned down and rubbed Jessie’s back. “Jessie, I’m proud of you. You taught me a lesson today. You showed me that I have resources in me I didn’t think I had. Imagine what Molly is going to say when she hears that we won the race. Just don’t tell her about the kiss okay.”
Jessie barked in agreement and Santa laughed. He picked up his shoes. “Come on Jessie, time for bed. The workshops are tomorrow and we’re going to have a long day. But first, how about a snack to tide us over.” From out of his satchel he pulled eggnog cookies and smiled.

Dec. 8th- Jessie gets a new coat from Molly Claus

Santa woke Jessie up early and they visited the deer. Although Dancer was still in the medical wing, he had talked to the other deer, and they were friendly with the dog when she came to visit. Jessie had a good time playing with the young does until Santa called her to his side. Jessie ran to catch up with him and looked at him curiously.
“You can play with the does another day Jessie. Molly wants to measure you for another coat. It’s been warm the past few days but you will need a coat when it gets really cold.”Santa pulled his coat on and looked at the dog. Jessie’s ears were down and her head and tail were pointed towards the ground.
“Now, Jessie if you want to stay with us you will have to have a coat. Let’s go girl.”
Jessie walked behind Santa. She was not happy. The coat she had worn earlier made her feel like a stuffed marshmallow. It had been over-sized and the hat had continually fallen over her face. She didn’t want a coat but Santa said she had to have one. She really liked living with the Clauses. If they said she needed a coat then she’d get one, but she didn’t have to like it.
It didn’t take long to reach the Claus house and Molly was waiting for Jessie. She had a variety of fabrics piled high on the long wooden table. Sitting at the table were several elves. They each had a box with scissors, tape, needles and thread. They smiled as Santa and Jessie walked into the room.
“We’ve been looking forward to making your coat Jessie. These elves are members of the Elvin Junior Embroiderers Guild. They are learning to sew so that they can make stuffed toys, blankets and clothing for our distribution centres. They’re here to help me make you a coat.” Molly gestured to the elves at the table.
Jessie tentatively wagged her tail and walked further into the room. She licked Molly’s hand and laid down on the floor, her sad eyes looking at the pile of fabric.”
Molly laughed. “You’ll feel better once we’ve made you a coat that suits you. Now Jessie I need your help. Come up to the table please.”
Jessie shuffled to the table. There was an empty spot on the end of the bench. She climbed up and sat down on the bench ande looked at the elf sitting beside her. The elf was a boy and he looked to Jessie to be very young. His cheeks had a babyish roundness and when he spoke he talked with a lisp.
“Hello Jessie. My name is Morgan. My father is Himley. I believe you met him earlier. He said you were living with Molly and Santa. I’m pleased to be helping you with your coat. I hope you don’t mind embellishments. I love bling.”
Jessie cringed. She didn’t like flashy things. She didn’t want to look like a Christmas tree or like a couch for that matter. If she really did have to wear a coat she just wanted something plain.
“Now Jessie we have a number of fabrics to choose from. I’ll hold up some of my top choices. When you find something you like bark once.” Molly pulled a roll of fabric from the table and held it up for Jessie. It was green and yellow with pink and purple polka dots.
Jessie shivered. There was no way she was going to wear that. She scrunched her mouth tightly shut and lowered her head.
Molly waited several minutes hoping that Jessie would bark. When she did not respond she looked at the fabric in her hand and then began to speak. “I guess you didn’t like that fabric. It’s too bad. You would have looked so cute in it. Maybe you’re right. We should have something to match Santa in the sleigh. You don’t want to clash with his suit on Christmas Eve. “
Molly reached to the bottom of the stack of fabric and pulled and red and green swirled fabric from the bottom of the pile. She held it up in front of her face so that Jessie could see the full effect of the swirling pattern.
“What do you think Jessie? You’d look like a little elf if we use this pattern.” She lowered the fabric so she could look at the dog.
Jessie’s mouth was securely tightened. She looked at the pile of fabric. Enough was enough. She was not going to look like a couch. She looked around the table and spotted a bolt of soft black fabric near the bottom. Black matched her fur. Besides, it looked like a warm fabric.
Jessie jumped down off the bench and determinedly walked around the table. She jumped and placed her front paws on the table in front of the fabric and then began pushing the fabric bolt with her nose. She then looked at Molly and pointed again.
Molly looked at Jessie. “You can’t want black Jessie. If you want a more neutral colour how about a zebra print?”
Jessie pointed to the fabric again and again. She then jumped down off the table and went to sit by the fire in the kitchen. She sat down with her back to Molly.
Molly sighed. “All right Jessie. We’ll use the black fabric.”
Jessie twitched her tail slightly and then closed her eyes. She’d rather be asleep then watch the elves make her coat. Within minutes Jessie was stretched out sleeping in front of the fire.
Molly and the elves pulled the black fabric from the pile and Molly took a second look. It actually was a good choice. It was thick and would be warm. She could also embellish it a little with rivets and crystals. She looked at the dog. Not too many embellishments. Jessie would probably not wear the coat if she didn’t like it.
Molly and the elves sewed late into the afternoon. Molly worked on the jacket, Morgan worked on the hat and the others worked on the shoes. It was almost supper time when Molly looked at the completed product. She was pleased. She hadn’t expected the design to turn out so well but the black leather like appearance matched perfectly with Morgan’s black ball cap and the elves rhinestone embellished boots. She thanked the elves, showed them out the door, and then went over to the fire. She gently shook Jessie awake.
“Jessie, your coat is ready. You need to try it on so that I can make adjustments to the sizing.”
Jessie slowly stretched then stood up and then took as long as she could to walk to the table. She climbed back on the bench to take a look.
The table had been cleared and sitting on it was Jessie’s clothing. Molly grabbed the coat and gently put it on the dog. She then tied the dog’s shoes and placed her hat on Jessie’s head at a jaunty angle. She smiled at Jessie.
“It fits perfectly and you look dapper. Have a look in the mirror and see what you think, but let me take a photograph first. It will make a good photo for our calendar next year.
Molly pulled out a digital camera from the cupboard and held it in front of her face. “Smile, Jessie.”
Jessie looked upwards towards Molly and did the best she could tolook pleasant look on her face. She waited as Molly took at number of pictures. She finally tired of the photo-shoot and jumped off of the bench. She held up her front paw and tried walking forward. The boots were actually comfortable and they didn’t trip her like the ones she had worn earlier.
Jessie trotted over to a large mirror and looked at herself. The black jacket was fitted around her torso and was quite comfortable. The boots had rhinestones on them. She wasn’t particularly fond of the stones but she could live with them. But, she absolutely loved the hat. It was a ball cap. She’d always liked ball caps. She still didn’t want to wear clothes but if she had to wear them this would be the set to wear.
Molly walked over to the mirror and leaned down to the dog. “Do you like it Jessie. We want you to be happy here. Santa told me you don’t like clothes but they really are necessary. If we need to we’ll make as many coats as we have to until we find one that suits you.” A tear slowly ran down her face.
Jessie  licked Molly across her face. She buried her head in Molly’s lap and turned it back and forth.
“Does that mean you like the coat Jessie”? Molly wiped the tear off of her face.
Jessie sat up and yipped once. She then chased her tail in a circle.
“I’ll take that as a yes. I’m glad we found a compromise. With your new clothes you’ll be the coolest dog at the North Pole.”
Jessie’s ears perked up. Molly had said she was the coolest dog at the North Pole. Does that mean there were other dogs living here? She’d have to explore later but for now she wondered if there would be eggnog for supper.

Dec. 7th – Jessie meets Dasher

JessieBytye Barnpng
Jessie by the barn.

Jessie wagged her tail excitedly as the barn door came into view. The barn was painted red and green and was as large as a football field. Santa had told her this morning that the barn was where the deer lived during the winter months. He was going to supervise the treatment of Dasher who had caught a naasty flu virus just after their last trip. Santa had told her that she could come as long as she didn’t chase the reindeer.

As Santa walked up to the doors, Jessie walked in circles smelling the ground. There were so many fascinating smells that she couldn’t register them all. She knew she would smell deer, but she hadn’t realized that the barn held other animals. Her sensitive nose told her that somewhere within the building that there were cows, horses, pigs, chickens and cats. There were other scents but Santa called her before her brain told her what they were. Santa held the open door to the barn and motioned for her to enter the building.

Jessie entered the barn and looked around in amazement. The exterior walls led to stalls for the various animals that lived in the building. The doors were open allowing the animals to freely walk and converse among themselves.

In the centre of the building was a green space that reached high up into the sky under a clear dome. High above Jessie could hear Prancer talking to young reindeer and giving them flying instructions. Down below there were exercise stations, grazing areas and a lake.

Jessie sniffed once again. Rabbits. Jessie loved chasing rabbits. She really didn’t know why. She never hurt the animals; she just liked catching them. She looked at Santa who was looking directly at her. No, knowing Santa’s love of animals it would not be a good idea to hunt rabbits in the barn. She had already begun to love Santa so much that she would do anything for him.

Santa smiled and motioned for Jessie to follow him. He was talking to an elderly elf dressed in a long brown robe. He carried a bottle of medicine for Dancer. The smell was so foul that Jessie  wondered how Dancer could take it.

Santa, the elf and Jessie walked down a long corridor which led behind the stalls. Jessie zigzagged from one side to the other as they walked looking around. Most were empty as it was the middle of the day and the animals were in the dome. In one stall, however, Jessie found a mare and her young colt enjoying a meal of hay and oats. Jessie wagged her tail and edged her head under the stall door. She would have gone in but Santa once again called her.

“Jessie, it’s best that you stay with us. Most of the animals are friendly but if the mothers think you’re threatening their young you may get kicked. Besides, I’d like you to come see the reindeer. If you’re going to travel with me on Christmas Eve the deer will need to get used to your company and Dasher could use a diversion. He isn’t well today and meeting you might take his mind off of his illness.”

Jessie reversed her way out from the stall and hurried to follow Santa. She continued to look into the various rooms but kept up with Santa and did not try to enter any more of the stalls.

Around a corner they came to the reindeer house. It was a large room divided into stalls with a wall of feed and water. There were grooming areas and bathing areas and a hospital wing. Santa hurried to the hospital wing and opened a door to a room with large glass windows looking into the reindeer house and out to the dome. Lying on a bed of straw was Dancer.

Mucus was flowing from Dancer’s nose and occasionally he sneezed. He breathed heavily. At the sight of the dog he looked up and snorted. He moved to get up from the floor.

“Dancer, stay where you are. Jessie will not chase you. She is living with us at the Claus house and I’d like it if you and the rest of the reindeer will become friends. I could use someone to sit with me in the sleigh on Christmas Eve and I’d like her to come.” Santa gently pushed Dancer down to the ground and felt his forehead. He took the medicine from the elf and poured it down Dancer’s mouth.

Dancer snorted and spluttered. He shook his head violently and snorted again.

“I know it’s strong medicine Dancer, but you have a bad case of the flu. We don’t want it to spread to the young ones. I’m going to talk to the vet for a moment. Why don’t you and Jessie make friends?”

Santa petted Jessie on the head and moved out in the hall closing the door. He stood in front of the glass window looking in while talking to the vet. He had a curious expression on his face as he watched Jessie and Dancer.

Jessie wagged her tail and cautiously came closer to Dancer. She licked Dancer on the cheek. Dancer shook his head and snorted. He backed away into the corner turning his back on the dog.

Jessie lowered her head and her tail. She had to make friends with the reindeer if she didn’t Santa wouldn’t let her come with him on Christmas Eve and she really wanted to go. She wondered what she could do to convince Dancer that she meant no harm.

She walked over to the food station and gave a sniff. Directly above her was a tap and a pail lay below it. It was empty. Water! Maybe Dancer would like water. That medicine must taste horrible and Jessie knew how to turn on taps.

Jessie looked around the room for a cloth. She couldn’t turn the tap with her teeth she needed something to pull on. She sniffed around and looked up onto the wall. Hung with reins and curry combs there was a towel. It wasn’t very big but it should work.

Jessie hurried over to the wall and began jumping up to try to snatch the towel from the hook. She was having a hard time reaching it, but was determined she was going to pull it down. Little by little she began pulling the towel down to the ground.

Dancer, from the opposite end of the room, curiously watched as Jessie jumped up and down again and again. When Jessie grabbed the towel and wagged her tail at him, he turned his back once more on the dog.

Jessie lowered her ears but walked over to the tap. She carefully pulled the towel through the spaces in the tap handle. When she was finished the towel was folded in half. She grabbed the two ends in her mouth and pulled. The tap loosened and a small stream of water fell down into the pail below it. She pulled again and a steady stream of water began filling the pail. She waited until it filled the pail and overflowed into a drain below.

Jessie excitedly wagged her tail and picked up the pail’s handle in her teeth. The pail was very heavy but her jaws were strong and she really wanted to please Dancer. She walked across the room trailing water behind her. She stopped behind Dancer, put the pail down, and yipped startling the reindeer.

Dancer rolled over and knocked over the pail. When he saw the water on the floor, and the water pouring from the tap, he looked at the dog. He walked over to Jessie, gently nuzzled her and then went over to the tap and taking a drink. He returned and licked the dog’s head before going to sit in the hay again.

Santa opened the door. “Good news Dancer, the vet says that you should be able to rejoin your herd in a couple of days. Get well. Jessie and I will check on you again tomorrow. Jessie, time to go girl.” He held the door open wide for her.

Jessie hurried out of the room and sat on her haunches waiting for Chris to close the door and join her. When he had shut the door he turned and looked at her quizzically. Where did you learn to turn on taps Jessie? It was a fantastic idea. Now that you’ve made friends with Dancer he’ll convince the rest of the herd to be friends with you. I’m proud of you girl. Now, let’s go home.”

Jessie wagged her tail and followed santa out of the barn. She couldn’t wait to come back and explore. Maybe dancer could introduce her to the rabbits.

One dog's Chronicles of a year in Santa Claus's life

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