The Story Behind Santa’s Dogs

Over the years, author JoAnn Sky and her husband have had the pleasure of welcoming six (so far) older shelter dogs into their family. SANTA’S DOG was inspired by their first rescue dog, Sampson. When JoAnn’s husband was deployed to Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom, she had a difficult time sleeping in the two-story house they had just moved into prior to her husband’s deployment. So, she decided to adopt a dog to keep her company!  She went to the shelter and saw this mostly black, older mixed-breed dog (part husky, part angel). He was sharing a “cell” with a little shepherd puppy.  Everyone was oohing and aahhing over this puppy, but when JoAnn went up to the fence, she saw that the older dog, Sampson, was sitting there so regally and letting the puppy climb on him and chew on his paws. Sampson was looking down at that pup as if to say, “I could smash you if I want to, but just play; neither of us belong here.” Then when JoAnn spoke to Sampson, he leaned against the fence really calm-like and let her pet him. (This later became the standard for all other shelter dogs that they’ve adopted. They call is the “Sampson test.”) As she petted Sampson, she remembers thinking, “What is wrong with all of these people? Sure, the pup is cute, but THIS dog is the cool one.” So, she decided to adopt him. 

The shelter told her that Sampson was three years old, though she suspected he might have been a bit older because he was so laid back. Except when he needed to be fierce, because he was a superb watchdog. He kept her safe while her husband was away. Sampson became her constant companion. Friends would invite her over, and she’d ask, “Can I bring my dog?” They traveled as a pair that year. And when her husband returned, Sampson was there to welcome him home. It’s like Sampson knew what was going on; he naturally adjusted to JoAnn’s husband. Sampson was the absolute Best. Dog. Ever.

It was after JoAnn’s husband returned home that she realized Sampson always took a while to come when she called him. She decided there must be something wrong with his hearing and took Sampson to the vet (what other reason could there possibly befor a dog not to listen, right?) The vet (thought she was crazy) very kindly explained that Sampson was a “northern breed” dog, and that his behavior was typical of a northern breed — that they do things on their own time (including, apparently, coming when called). JoAnn shared this information with her husband when she got home, and he replied, “Northern dog? Maybe he’s Santa’s dog and got lost from the North Pole!”  

That evening over a glass of wine, JoAnn and her husband plotted out the storyline of a dog who got lost from Santa, ended up with a military family, and then had to decide whether to stay with the family or return to the North Pole with Santa.  For the next decade, JoAnn kept telling herself that she would someday write that story. She finally did, and SANTA’S DOG is the result. She is very excited to finally share this story! If you love dogs, if you have family in the military, or if you believe in Santa, you will be touched by this book.

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About SANTA’S DOG: SANTA’S DOG is a heartwarming tale for youngsters and the young-at-heart. In this rhyming story, readers follow the adventures of Santa’s best dog, Lance, when he falls out of the sleigh one Christmas Eve. He’s taken in by the animal shelter and then brought home by a military family who needs some help as Dad is called to serve his country. When Christmas Eve comes ‘round the next year, Lance must decide whether to return to the North Pole with his friend Santa or stay with his new family. 

SANTA’S DOG can be purchased directly from the Dogs & Books website:

Santa's Dog



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