Tierce: Where are we?
Me: We’re at Best Paw Forward. The place where you’re going to be tormented next year in their Beyond the Leash class.
Tierce: It’s still 2012. Why are we here?
Me: You’re going to get your picture taken with Santa.
Tierce: Santa? Who the hell is Santa?
Me: He brings good dogs toys and treats on Christmas Day.
Tierce: I must’ve met him before. What does he smell like?
Me: Probably like a combination of elf slave labour and reindeer poop.
Tierce: Someday, you’re going to have to explain to me what that means. Wait, I’m not interested. Tell me about the treats.
Me: Well, Santa comes down the chimney in the middle of the night on Christmas Eve and leaves stuff for good dogs. Of which you are not one. He leaves rolled-up newspapers for the bad dogs.
Tierce: What about dogs in shelters? Shelters don’t have chimneys. Come to think of it, we don’t have a chimney.
Tierce: Shelter dogs are good dogs, right? I mean, they didn’t all deserve to be left at the shelter.
Me: Uh… well, yeah, they’re good dogs.
Tierce: So what does Santa bring them?
Me: A new home, I hope.
Tierce: So every shelter dog who’s a good dog gets a new home? Because Santa gives good things to good dogs?
Me: Well… okay, I lied. Santa doesn’t really exist as a human.
Tierce: So he’s a dog?
Me: No, he’s a construct. Part legend, part American consumerism. Blame Coca-Cola.
Tierce: So why am I getting my picture taken with him?
Me: Because it’s a cute thing to do.
Tierce: But he isn’t real.
Me: Okay, look at it this way. Santa is the human personification of the spirit of Christmas. He’s supposed to be the symbol of goodwill, community and being kind to others during this season. He’s also what people hide behind if they want to do something nice for someone else, but don’t want that person to know who it was.
Tierce: But that has nothing to do with the story about Santa giving presents to good dogs.
Me: You’re right. Lots of people take it farther, teaching their puppies that Santa is a real person who brings them Kong toys and dog treats for Christmas.
Tierce: But it’s a lie. Shelter dogs don’t get presents. Those dogs you talk about all the time, the ones whose owners don’t feed them or abandon them. They don’t get presents. There is no such thing as Santa, so there is no such thing as someone who brings dogs presents just because they’re good dogs! It’s not fair and you lied to me.
Me: You’re right. I was wrong to lie to you. You are absolutely right. There is just one thing, though.
Tierce: And that is?
Me: If there is no such thing as Santa, it’s our responsibility to do Santa’s job. If there is no force for good who will do this for needy and abandoned dogs, it’s up to individual people to step up and do what they claim Santa is doing.
Tierce: So why are we here again?
Me: Well, I think it’s a cute thing to do and Best Paw is donating all the proceeds to the Soi Dog Foundation, a group that helps needy dogs in Thailand.
Tierce: Oh. WHAT’S THAT? WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT?
Me: That’s the Santa hat you’re going to wear.
Tierce: BURN IN HELL, DEMONESS. YOU’RE NOT GETTING THAT TORTURE DEVICE ON MY HE-hey, dried liver!
Me: Take the picture. Take the picture now.