Dec 202014

Golden Retriever Believe In Santa

(Editor’s Note – this is a children’s short story that has obviously evolved over some 25 years since I first wrote it. I have read it aloud to children’s groups and it’s all based off of my true life events up to what occurred with Phoenix and I two years ago)

That magical night approaches and the air is filled with anticipation. Snowflakes dancing like a dervish as the sun begins to set, yet lifting up the curtain for the evenings events. To be levitated with unbound excitement and singing with rapture. This is but one part of the wizardry of Christmas Eve and the arrival of Santa Claus.

This is our true tale shared with you over so many perfect, wonderful years. The enchantment and trust for all things possible on the most spiritual of nights. A launching pad for the lengths you can push your imagination to bring that joy and happiness into your life with your mind pure in thought. To read beyond, around and through where you have always put up barriers. To break past the blinders and open up doors you never thought possible.

To see that there is a message far beyond the story itself.

To believe…

With that, gather the children around and here is our Christmas Eve story for you. Phoenix, My Golden Retriever, And Believing In Santa Claus…

When I was a very small boy my dad, mom and I packed up into our 1960 dark blue Pontiac Bonneville. We left our California town to make the wintry mountain journey to Reno, Nevada to spend Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with my beloved Grandma, Grandpa, Aunt and Uncle. As with any young kid the magic of Christmas was always very real though we didn’t have the grand scale of commercialization of the holiday that exists so globally today. My dear Mom instilled in me, while having the option of choice, that Santa Claus was always very real and to never give up that belief, if I so chose.

On this particular Christmas Eve it was so very blustery and stormy in this alpine town. Being an only child I sat by the Christmas tree alone in the late evening, the fireplace roaring and illuminating the dark room with a glow that cast odd shadows. I could hear muffled chatter from the adults in an adjacent room. I gazed upon the tall tree with all of the lights sparkling and blinking so festive and bright. The gifts wrapped in their pretty splendor of colors and ribbons. Pondering which one’s might be mine and what I might get.

All of a sudden I heard a noise on the roof. Startled, I ran into the kitchen to where the adults were gathered like tall timber. I looked up, eyes wide with fright and my mouth agape and tugged from below on my Mom’s knit sweater. I pointed towards the ceiling, “Mom, there was a noise on the roof! I’m scared!”

She knelt down to me and smiled placing the warm, gentle, soft palms of her hands on my wee little shoulders. She assertively said, yet with a twinkle in her eyes, “Oh honey, that has got to be Santa and the reindeer landing! He must have had trouble with the weather and needed to land early! Hurry, you must be asleep before he can deliver your gifts!”

I ran to the bedroom and leaped into my guest bed as my Mom tucked me in I said, “Mom, the milk and cookies for Santa Claus!” She calmly smiled and kissed me on my forehead and said, “My sweet son, don’t worry your Dad and I will make sure Santa has milk and cookies waiting for him on the hearth before he slides down the chimney. Now you need to get to sleep.”

Somehow, I dozed off quickly into a wondrous slumber before I noticed daylight at my very next blink. In my pajamas, robe and slippers I bolted not initially for the Christmas tree but to the fireplace hearth. To my elation and beaming joy I found a plate of some nibbled on cookies and crumbs accompanied by a half-filled glass of milk with a drink stain streaming down. I squealed with delight and jumped with a 6-year-old fist pump…yes!

He had truly arrived.

The next few years went on as I got older and my friends began to tease me relentlessly that Santa Claus was not real. I asked my mom for confirmation on this and she said, “Never ever stop believing Mike, if you so choose, because he is real.” This continued in my heart for the next 40 years and I stood my ground to this day on that belief. Christmas would always be magical and he would always arrive and deliver gifts and toys.

Which brings us to now, on the threshold yet again this year. My beautiful Golden Retriever boy, Phoenix, and I will escape to all of the wonder that Santa Claus might bring. As has been the past 10 years with the two of us. Anything is possible and always in one way or another more magic is always conceived.

I will give you the dialogue from our very special Christmas Eve two years ago:

Me, ”Phoenix! We need to get outside to wait for Santa!”
Him, “What?! Are you going to throw my ball for me?”
Me, “No silly, Santa Claus! Tonight is the night!’
Phoenix, with his tail waggin’, eyes sparkling and that Golden Retriever grin, “Ohhh, cool! You better get bundled up, Daddy. I love this night. Did you look on the computer to see where he is at?”

You see, these days we have NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command) tracking him on the Internet so that helps a bit. You can click right here for you to follow at NORAD Santa Tracker.

Me, “Yes, he just left Utah, but I still want to see if we can get a glimpse of him and the reindeer in the sky first, don’t you?”
Phoenix, “Yep, that’s the best part!”
Then Phoenix paused, “But Dad, how does he get around the world in one night so fast?”
Me, “Ah, that’s the neatest part, honey. For Santa Claus a second is a month, a minute a year, and year is a millennium.”
Phoenix, “What is that in dog years?”
We gave each other a quizzical double-take look .
Phoenix again, “I’m just messin’ with ya, Dad.”

I put on my best winter clothing, grabbed a steaming hot adult beverage and a chair to plant myself in the backyard in the snow. Phoenix sat down next to me on my right side as I petted and stroked his soft, warm fur. We both peered up into the dark night sky looking at all of the brilliant bright stars. I would tell him of my Christmas stories from years gone by. Family, friends, joy, magic and most of all the meaning of Christmas as it exists to me. That being the spirit of giving and not of material things. More so of the love and kindness and the celebration of all that we have with us, around us and within us. That special energy that surrounds us, bonds us and keeps all of us connected.

Phoenix then looked over and up at me in my chair and said, “I like when you tell me your stories, Dad.”
Me, “Well, they are all true. One of the best things about Christmas to me is a focus on the children.”
Phoenix, slightly alarmed, he eyes more alert, darted a question at me, “Ahem, and Golden Retriever’s too, right Dad?”
Me, “Yes, and Golden Retrievers. And kitties, creatures and all beings on this beautiful Earth, kiddo.”
Phoenix, “Even the cat that teases me on the fence?”
Me, “Yep, even that cat.”
Phoenix, sighing with love, “Well…ok. He’s a good cat.”

I went on to tell him more stories and how Santa always came to deliver gifts and toys to all of the good boys and girls around the world. That it’s not about what Santa can give to us but what we can give to one another. It can come in many forms; love, kindness, charity, volunteering, and sometimes even just listening and being there for someone.

Phoenix, “Wow! All those things are Santa Claus?”
Me, “Yes, all those things are Santa Claus, baby. Well, sort of.”
Him, “Ohhh…so that’s why we help people like we do?”
Me, “Christmas to me is 365 days a year, Phoenix. Santa Claus pulls off the real magical stuff but not always in the form we wish for. It comes when and where we least expect it.”

Phoenix, slurring, “Sooo, if I wush fur yu to ween da lottery but insted yu git a date wif Kate Beckinsale…dat iz Santee Caus?”
Me, “Darnit! You were licking up that adult drink of mine weren’t you? It’s NOT water!”
Phoenix, his eyes a bit glazed over, “Sowee…*hiccup*!”

I continued on for a while and the fresh air sobered him up and he suddenly interrupted me and began pawing at me, “Dad! Look!”
Me, “What?”
Phoenix, looking towards the North Star, intently said, “I think I see something. Over there!”
I squinted into the black sky filled with illuminating stars of the glorious heavens above and saw what he did,” I’m not sure…”
Him, “Well? Do you think it’s Santa?”
Me, noticing possible movement dashing across the outline of The Big Dipper, “It looks like something moving in a position to land, honey. I think you’re right. We better hurry and get to bed!”
Phoenix, “Done!” And he bolted into the house and I could hear him thundering towards the bedroom and plopping into his bed at the side of mine.

I picked up the chair and cup, went inside, locked up the house. I then turned off the lights and crawled into bed to call it a night. Before turning off the light on my night stand I looked at him still with one eye peeking hopefully, “You gotta sleep or he won’t come, Phoenix…”
Phoenix groaned with anxious frustration and pretending to sleep through one eye at me, “Ok, Dad…”
I turned the light off and Phoenix barked with alarm, “Dad! The milk and cookies!!”
Me, “Arrgh! Good call!” I went into the kitchen and gathered the cookies and milk and set them on a plate on the hearth.

Then I came back to bed and told my kid, “We’re good now, honey…”
Phoenix, “What would you do without me?”
Me, “I would be lost. I love you, Phoenix.”
Phoenix, “I love you too, Dad. Now shut off the light.”
Both of our bodies relaxed as we fell off somehow into a slumber of anticipation.

The next morning we awoke as Phoenix gave me his soft morning “wuff” to wake up. I put my sweats, slippers and ball cap on. Phoenix bolted for the hearth not to eat the cookies but to check on their post-Christmas Eve status.

They were untouched…*sigh*

He looked away from the hearth then up at me with the saddest look and then hung his head in despair back at the hearth, “I guess I wasn’t a good boy.”
I got down on my knees and petting and kissed and hugged him. Assertively, just like my Mom would have said, “No way! You are the best, good boy ever!”
Phoenix, “Ya, but…”

Knock, knock on the door…

I opened the door and it was my next door neighbor, Keith, “Hey, my wife and I caught someone walking away from your house very late last night but he just vanished. I know we keep an eye on each other but it looks like whomever it was left you something.”
I hadn’t noticed it but I looked down and it was a huge, wrapped Christmas basket. I thanked Keith, grabbed the basket, closed the door.

Phoenix said, “Well, what is it??”
I was completely baffled, “I don’t know, buddy, there’s only a card that has ‘Merry Christmas Phoenix’ on it!”
Him, “Hey, that’s ME!”
I said, “Yep, it sure is sweetheart!”

I let Phoenix grab the paper covering with this teeth and I held the basket as he unwrapped this enormous, mysterious gift. Inside was a treasure of toys and treats. He grabbed one of the toys in his mouth and galloped with joy out into the backyard to play with it.

As he did, I walked over to the neighbor’s house and said to Keith and Camilla with a big smile, “Thank you for doing that for him, you guys.”
Keith was surprised, “Mike, I swear it wasn’t us.”
Baffled, I walked over to Nora, her husband, Grandma and Elizabeth’s house on the other side and explained. Then asked, “Did you guys do that for him?”
They all said, “Nope, it wasn’t us.”

To this day I never, ever found out how the basket got there but Phoenix did come back into the house with his toy.
I started to tell him, “Honey, I don’t know how…”
He cut me off and looked up smiling with that Golden Retriever grin, his eyes sparkling with contentment, “Dad…it was Santa!”
Me with total realization that he had visited us, “Yes it was, honey!”

Love, Light and Blessings to you from us. Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

Mike and Phoenix

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Mike Vogler

I have been told (many times) that I really need to write a book about my life. The past 50+ years have been an exciting ride, and these days I find myself with a great many passions. However, I feel that this website is a much more personal way with which to share my musings, stories and commentary.

  98 Responses to “Phoenix, My Golden Retriever, And Believing In Santa Claus”

  1. Aw, I loved this story, Mike! H*ll yeah, Santa exists, all you have to do is believe! Same thing for Christmas miracles.

    • Aww, thank you.I’m so glad you “got it” and yes miracles abound if we look around. Merry Christmas, Melissa! 🙂

  2. Thanks so much for sharing this lovely story. Now I can start my day.

  3. Merry Christmas, Mike. Wishing you peace and happiness in the new year.

  4. Hi Mike,

    Wow! You have actually built up that magic people talk about! It is a fantastic way of inculcating the belief, weaving the tales of Santa also lend hopes, positive thoughts and love. Children till a particular age enjoy that magic!

    The other day I was discussing this with my daughter why are children told all these lies, don’t they realise after a few years that Santa is not real? She gave me the same answer…it is the childhood magic and belief. It all depends! That magic seems to be around you still! Stay blessed.

    • You are exactly right that parents have a huge influence on this belief and can also enhance or restrain their spiritual paths going forward. Merry Christmas, Balroop! 🙂

  5. Such a beautiful, sweet Christmas story, Mike! You and Phoenix have shared so much love in life and here with us on the blog… magic indeed!

  6. A sweet sweet story. I will be thinking about this all day today. Thank you for sharing it.

  7. Soo lovely Mike, your posts always tug at my heartstrings! Hope you have a lovely Christmas!

  8. Have a Holly Jolly Christmas, Mike, rife with mirth and festive merriment!

  9. Pure Christmas Magic.

    Sending you Hugs & Love from MN, Mike.

    & Looking up into the heavens blowing kisses to our dear, Phoenix. xxxx

  10. It must have been Santa.
    There’s just no other way.
    Thank you for that bedtime story!

    • To this day 2 years later, all of my friends and family have been grilled. By me. I wanted a confirmation to deny my belief. They all said no way. It was Santa. Merry Christmas, Tamara! 🙂

  11. I love your’s and Phoenix’s Christmas story, Mike! I read it last year for the first time and it put me right in the spirit that I needed 🙂 BELIEVE!

  12. Wow, what a great story! I’m glad Santa remembered his favorite Golden Retriever!

  13. this year when Santa comes Phoenix will be traveling with him…

  14. I remember a Christmas when I was 5 or 6 at our house in Baltimore, MD. I heard bells jingling and thumping noises on the roof while lying in my bed on the second floor. A short time later “Santa” was in our house giving me a present while my parents looked on. To this day I don’t know who “Santa” was, but I know I saw him, spoke with him, got a hug from him, and got a present from him.

    Thanks, Mike, for sharing this story and bringing back this memory for me.

    • What an awesome story of your’s, Ed! Isn’t it awesome when those imprint and stay with us for the rest of our lives? It was great to hear from you 🙂

  15. What a lovely Christmas story! I hope you have a very Merry Christmas Mike!! Or as they say in German, Frohe Weihnachten!! 😀

  16. awww lovely! I know how much you must miss your dear friend. I am thinking of you, Mike! Have a merry christmas and a very happy new year.

    • Thank you, that means a lot to me from you, Jo 🙂 A very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you and your family! 🙂

  17. It seems like I am having some problems submiting a comment. I hope the previous one got posted.

  18. A magical story Mike. I am glad that Santa visited and left the parcel. I love it when strange things like that happen. Goosebumps. 🙂

    • Oh you nailed it, Jan, it was definitely a goose bumps kind of moment. I’m glad you liked the story 🙂

  19. Beautiful story, Mike 🙂

  20. Hi Mike,
    Awesome post which contain very useful information about Phoenix, My Golden Retriever, And Believing In Santa Claus. Very interesting and informative article. I liked it. Great points included in the post. Thanks for sharing views. Have a great week ahead.

  21. Beautiful story. Very touching.. I’m glad both you and Phoenix never stopped believing in Santa! I do believe it was really him who brought the basket of goodies 🙂 . Happy Holidays Mike! And l’m sure your gorgeous kid Phoenix is smiling down at you!

    • I’m with you on the delivery, Kemkem! Thank you for the compliment and holiday wishes and most definitely hope he’s smiling down on me 🙂

  22. Hi Mike, what a sweet, story. So true, magic happes when you believe…
    Thanks for sharing this beautiful post, Mike. Have a very Merry Christmas.

    • Absolutely if we always just keep our minds open anything is possible, Marisol. A very Merry Christmas to you and Keith, too! 🙂

  23. I just have one thing to say “” This made me smile “” 😀
    Its always about the belief you know. I still like to hang up my sock for the presents 😉 (now the husband has to do the honors 😛 )

    • I’m so glad on the smile, Rashmi, and very glad you and your husband continue the wonderful magic of the holiday…and believing! 🙂

  24. Oh Mike I love your Santa Claus and your believing story. Phoenix you are so very smart, of course it was Santa.
    Wished our kids believed still but this is the first year without Santa cause they all let me know that they understood who he really was and they didn’t need gifts from Santa anymore…..was hoping for a few more years of still believing.

    Sending you love, thanking you for sharing your story on your childhood Xmas xxx

    • Oh yes I still believe without a doubt and I know there is a ton of magic every day of the year with you and those boys, Lisa! Thank you for enjoying it so much! 🙂

  25. Beautiful story Mike (and Phoenix). Have a very merry xmas and I hope Santa comes by.

  26. What a beautiful story Mike. I can sadly share the bad news with you. My lovely dog Max passed away 3 days ago after 15 wonderful years spent with us. It’s our first Christmas without him and we truly miss it :(. I share the pain with you and wishing you Merry Christmas. Bless you! XxX

    • I am SO TERRIBLY SORRY to hear about Max, Agness! I know he was so incredibly important in your and your family’s life for all of these years. Do know this…that Max is looking down on all of you wanting you to have a very Merry Christmas! Blessings and thoughts to you, my dear…hugs 🙂

  27. Have you ever considered turning Phoenix into a children’s book character? I think kids both big and small would love to hear his stories, really beautiful Mike!

    And Santa tracker! So checking that out!:-)

    Wishing you a very Merry Christmas, and looking forward to following many more of your wonderful blog posts in 2015!

    • The Santa tracker is very cool! What an awesome compliment from you and yes I had actually hoped to write a children’s book based on him while he was still here. That life saying of “don’t wait until tomorrow because it may never come…” huh? It’s still not out of the question for me to pursue it 🙂 A very Merry Christmas to all of you, Jessica! 🙂

  28. MAGIC! My sisters are over 50 yrs old, and I am over 40 yrs old and my mother STILL tells us “If you don’t believe, you don’t receive.” Who can argue with that??
    And who doesn’t need a little MAGIC in their lives?
    Great story!
    Happy, happy holidays Mike!

    • Thank you, Joy, and your mother is and always been a very wise woman! Definitely my kind of mom 🙂 Happy Holidays to you too! 🙂

  29. Sometimes as adults, we need to be reminded that there is still magic in the world, in many different forms. What a wonderful story to begin my Christmas Eve. Thank you, Mike, and Merry Christmas to you!

    • I’m so glad you were able to stop by today, Dana! You hit straight on the head with “in many different forms…” Once we get that, there is more magic around us than we can possibly fathom 🙂 A very Merry Christmas to you too! 🙂

  30. You’re a wonderful storyteller Mike. Do have a merry Christmas

  31. Merry Christmas Mike

    Loved the story and it must give you such great comfort to recall the thoughts this year. I am glad I saved it to read today, as this is the first relaxed moment I have had lately.

    It brought back memories of fun when we were younger and the realization you can’t go home again. Things are constantly changing and here is to a wonderful 2015.


    • How wonderful to hear from you today and that in of itself definitely brightened my day, Mary! I do understand what you mean on home and even if one can…it never looks the same either. Here’s to a wonderful 2015 to you and your family, my friend! Please stay in touch…even via email 🙂

  32. Aw, what a sweet story! How excited Phoenix must have been to receive such a great fit!

    Hope you had a very merry Christmas 🙂

  33. What a wonderful story Mike. Thnanks for invoking my faith in the magic of Christmas.

    • What an awesome comment and I love it that you see/feel have that faith in Christmas, my friend 🙂

  34. Did you share this story last Christmas? It sounds familiar. Nevertheless, it was a great read! Have you considered writing children’s books? If not, you should consider it, Mike. You have a gift for storytelling.

    • Yes, I did share it last year while Phoenix was still alive and thank you for the wonderful compliment, Dana 🙂

  35. I wish I would of read this before Christmas. Just lovely Mike. LOVELY!

  36. What a lovely story Mike. I have to say I still believe in the magic of Christmas even though my family kids me about it.

  37. This is one of your best stories, Mike (IMHO). Reminded me magical times of my childhood. “Never ever stop believing!”
    I miss Phoenix. Can’t think of how difficult it is for you to have Christmas without him… I wish you a Happy New Year! only joy and happiness this year, Mike!

    • It’s been darn tough both then and still today, Alex. I am so thrilled you stopped by and thank you. All my best to you this year as well 🙂

  38. Aw Mike. I read this from my phone over the holidays and couldn’t comment from it but this is such a beautiful story of love and hope. I hope that you had a wonderful wonderful Christmas and a happy New Year. May 2015 bring you so much light and laughter.

  39. Beautiful story and one that takes me back in time to those magical Christmas Eve nights. In the 4th grade, my teacher made a comment to our class about there not being a Santa Claus.Ha! I always knew she was wrong. I’m a little late with Christmas greetings, so let me just wish you a very Happy New Year!

    • Oh yes, she was quite wrong Cathy! It is so wonderful to hear from you and thank you for sharing that memory. Happy New Year to you and Mr TWS as well 🙂

  40. I love hearing other friends special remembrances of Santa and Christmas celebrations with family. We had fun making sure our kids enjoyed the magic of miracles too. We are still finding ways to keep the magic of believing alive and know it helps through out the year.

    My story: Our patio roof was visible out our kitchen window and my husband made impressions in the snow to look like a sleigh had landed on the roof near the chimney. The kids still talk about those moments.

    Happy New Year to you and wish many more happy memories for you to enjoy,

    • I loved your story, Neva, and wishing you and your family a very Happy New Year too. It’s wonderful to hear from you 🙂

  41. Mike just dropping in to say Happy New year

  42. Oh Mike, what a great post. I had such limited internet the last month, that I am just getting caught up with everyone. . .I am a believer in believing in Santa, in angels on earth, the Easter bunny, and eating fresh fallen snow. If we ever give up believing, it seems, there really isn’t a reason to get up each morning. . .each day is an opportunity to find magic somewhere. Happy New Year to you~ Jackie

    • He hit the nail on the head, Jackie! That is truly what this was all about and you saw the entire picture – thank you! 🙂

  43. Hey Mike! Just got back in Manila and to a reliable internet connection. How are you, my friend? They say the first year’s the hardest. Hang on there. *hugs*

    • Ah yes, I’m hanging in there and getting up each morning 🙂 I bet your kitties were thrilled to see you, Aleah! 🙂

  44. OK I don’t know how I missed this AMAZING story and post but I did! I wandered over here to see what was going on in your world and found I’d not read this. It was a great way to take a coffee break and enjoy a Phoenix story – and Santa Claus! I believe, I believe! I know we’ve all said it before, but I’m going to say it again – WRITE BOOKS. Tell your story. Tell Phoenix’s story. You have such a powerful way with words.

    Missing you out here in our e-world. Hurry back.

    • A book is definitely on my bucket list, Nan, and thank you for the amazing vote of confidence. I hope your holidays were amazing and that all is well with you, my friend 🙂

  45. Beautiful story, Mike! Your Mom was so right – one should never stop believing. You never know when a miracle might happen.

    • Absolutely to never stop believing, Tarana! I’m so glad you agree and I hope you are doing great! 🙂

  46. Hello Mike,
    What a lovely and beautiful story. I miss Phoenix. I can just imagine how difficult this past holiday season was for you…
    I’ve been totally out of the blogging world for a while and just trying slowly to get back into the swing of things now. So, even if it is a bit late, I want to wish you a very Happy New Year 2015! All the best!

    • It is soooooo wonderful to have you back, Rita! I know not only myself but many people have missed having you “here” with us! Thank you for your awesome remark about Phoenix – you have no idea how much that means to me, my friend 🙂 Happy New Year to you as well! 🙂

  47. Your first gelato? Seriously? You must have enjoyed a lot then! I wish I was there with you indulging in it!

    • Ha, yes I was definitely behind the curve ball on gelato, Agness! I’m glad I rectified that 🙂

  48. That’s a really cool story. And I admire you for the belief in something even though every one around is saying it’s not true (especially when you were at school). All the best to you and Phoenix from Cambodia!

  49. I have read of your life with Phoenix. I too lost my friend Bruno last July who looked very much like Phoenix. I met this frightened dog through Golden Retriever Rescue of Michigan, and brought him home with me. After a little time he learned he had a safe home and a friend to care for him. I learned I had met the best friend of my life. The memories are endless including waiting for Santa each Christmas eve.
    May they both rest in peace.

    • That was an awesome comment and great story of your’s and Bruno’s to read, Ron. Thank you very much for sharing that and my best to you and your new next best friend when you get him/her! I’m still not quite there yet 🙂

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