Jump to content
Mervyn The Hired Hand

Sunshine and Snow for Santa

Recommended Posts

Mervyn The Hired Hand
Posted (edited)

Sunshine Silverheels was a reindeer herder, or more precisely a descendant of reindeer herders, a primitive breed of dog known as a Samoyed. The name Samoyed comes from the Samoyede, a semi-nomadic people from Asia who migrated to Siberia and neighboring Lapland in northern Finland a thousand years ago. They bred dogs for hard work in the coldest habitable places on earth.

Samoyeds are substantial but graceful dogs standing anywhere 19 to 24 inches at the shoulder, sometimes running 70 pounds without fat. Powerful, tireless, with a long, thick all-white coat impervious to cold—Samoyeds are beautiful and highly functional. They also have some quirky characteristics.

Samoyed fur is sometimes used as an alternative for wool, with a soft texture similar to angora. Samoyed fur sweaters have been reported to handle temperatures well below freezing. Sunshine’s fur made a beautiful scarf and beanie for my wife. The fur is sometimes also used in making artificial flies for fishing.

The Samoyede people depended on reindeer as a vital source of food, fur, and leather. At first, they used dogs to hunt reindeer. But in time Samoyede culture shifted from hunting reindeer to herding them. The bold white hunting dogs found a new role as stock dogs, moving and protecting the herds.

Early on, the Laplanders found it desirable for their herd dogs to not have a taste for the animals they were protecting, and the diet of Samoyed dogs was shifted to mostly fish. Perhaps as a result, Sunshine could always be found hanging about under foot in the kitchen whenever fish was cooking. And when a can of tuna fish was being opened, Sunshine would come running.

Samoyeds are smart, stubborn, social, mischievous dogs who demand love and attention. Often difficult to train, they need a very firm but loving hand in the process. As pack animals, they must learn early who the alpha dog is—and the alpha dog must be their owner. Once that is established, Samoyeds are attentive and eager to learn. Sunshine knew a vocabulary of over 50 human words before he died at 14 years, and was always listening for words like “walk,” and “ride,” and “treat,” among others. He could also tell what one’s plans were for the day by seeing what pants one put on in the morning.

Samoyeds proved amenable to herding Santa’s reindeer and small children, but never showed much interest in herding sheep or cattle. Not as fast as a sheltie or Australian shepherd, Samoyeds use their bulk to stand in the way to turn reindeer, and will often play with toddlers by walking with them and turning their paths back and forth across a yard for long periods. Samoyeds are excellent companions, especially for small children or even other dogs, and they remain playful into old age.

Known as the smiling sled dog, or “smiley dog,” Samoyeds have a perpetual smile that is both endearing and functional. Upturned corners of the mouth keep Samoyeds from drooling, preventing icicles from forming on the face in arctic weather often 60 degrees blow zero F. When told to smile, Sunshine would obediently come and sit in front of anyone who spoke the command, and stare into their face lovingly, with his white eyelashes and black button nose.

Sunshine had copious amounts of hair growing between his toes, long enough to cover the pads of his feet if not trimmed, an adaptation that allows Samoyeds to run long distances on snow and ice without harming their feet. Still, he was fairly comical on occasion when his feet got cold and he began holding  them alternately off the ground, especially when he tried to lift a front and rear foot at the same time. Samoyeds also habitually curl their tails on their backs, presumably to keep from dragging them in the snow and ice. When their tail is down, its usually because they are sleepy.

Sunshine loved the snow, and would chase snowflakes and try to catch them in his mouth endlessly. The first flake of winter he saw was an especially joyous occasion. He also loved to eat ice cubes and carrots, presumably in part due to the crunchy texture. After one storm, he ate enough 2” hail stones that he began to shiver uncontrollably, and had to be restrained from eating more.

Samoyeds know how to pull. An untrained Samoyed may be seen taking its owner for a walk, or perhaps a jog at the end of an extended leash, rather than walking alongside. Samoyeds will pull a skier with enthusiasm all day in a ski-joring harness.

Fridtjof Nansen believed that use of sled dogs was the only effective way to explore the north and used Samoyeds on his expeditions in search of Santa and the North Pole. Two Samoyeds, Kaifas and Suggen, were the lead dogs for Nansen's North Pole expedition. He claimed to find the North Pole, but never found Santa, presumably because Santa’s workshop is a magical place that only allows those who should to see it.

In his youth, Sunshine briefly thought he could walk on water. As a pup beside a swimming pool, he sniffed a couple times and then blithely stepped off the rim of the pool, only to find he was not after all supernatural, abruptly learning he could swim, at least until pulled from the pool by the scruff of his neck. Then carrying about 10 pounds of additional water weight in his heavy fur, he unsuccessfully tried to shake it off and almost wound up in the pool again. Later, after regaining his composure during a short drive, he picked up a large chew stick and posed for the camera like Edward G. Robinson enjoying a cigar.

Although pups don’t care much, adult Samoyeds are a bit vain about their appearance after a bath, often hiding behind a chair or couch for awhile until they dry out. But baths are rare, because a light oil in a Samoyed’s fur encourages dirt to fall off when it dries dry—they are very clean dogs. When they feel threatened, they can puff out their fur so they look about twice as big as they really are, especially around their face and ruff. When Sunshine met a huge statute of the White Horse Whisky horsed along the Trans-Canadian Highway, he woofed his way around it with his ruff as large as a lion, until convinced it wasn't going to step on him.

Some say Samoyeds' friendly disposition makes them poor guard dogs; an aggressive Samoyed is rare. But they are excellent watchdogs, and will bark at anything that encroaches on their territory, unless trained not to do so. And my spouse maintains the walking down the street with a Samoyed is one of the most secure feelings one can have, as they look larger than they actually are.

Surely this must be the ideal dog for Santa Claus: friendly, loves snow, small children, and reindeer, smiles all the time, loves to pull sleds, eats fish and can keep a secret. Santa would be hard pressed to find a better candidate to keep his toes warm under the desk on those cold arctic nights.

Sunshine Silverheels.jpg

Sunshine.jpg

Edited by Mervyn The Hired Hand
Add photo
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Black River Santa

Beautiful dog and a magnificent breed! Thanks for sharing.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
  • Donations

    All donations go directly towards the cost of hosting and running ClausNet!

    Your support, through donations or simply by clicking on sponsor links, is greatly appreciated!

    Donate Sidebar by DevFuse
  • Our picks

    • If You Have the Post Christmas Blues You’re Doing Christmas Wrong
      The post-Christmas blues are a very real thing. Once the date of December 25th has passed the specter of December 26th is an ominous marker to many. It sits there on the calendar like the Ghost of Christmas Yet-to-Come. Silent and foreboding, the very image of the hooded Angel of Death it seems to be. And why not?

      Just about anywhere you look Americans are tossing trees to the curb, ripping down lights from rooftops and radio stations are flipping back to everyday music. What took months to build gets deconstructed in a matter of a couple of days.
        • Like
      • 25 replies
    • Auld Lang Syne
      Every New Year’s Eve at the stroke of midnight, millions around the world traditionally gather together to sing the same song, “Auld Lang Syne”. As revilers mumble though the song’s versus, it often brings many of them to tears – regardless of the fact that most don’t know or even understand the lyrics. Confusion over the song’s lyrics is almost as much of a tradition as the song itself. Of course that rarely stops anyone from joining in.
        • Wow
        • Like
      • 2 replies
    • Merry Christmas, My Friend
      Every year around this time, some variation of this poem is circulated online. The poem is generally credited to “a soldier stationed in Okinawa” or more recently since September 11, 2001, “a Marine stationed in Afghanistan”.

      However, the poem’s true author is Lance Corporal James M. Schmidt.

      Originally entitled, “Merry Christmas, My Friend”, Corporal Schmidt wrote the poem in 1986 while serving as Battalion Counter Sniper at the Marine Barracks 8th & I, in Washington, D.C.

      That day the poem was placed in the Marine Corps Gazette and distributed worldwide. Schmidt’s poem was later published in Leatherneck (Magazine of the Marines) in December 1991.
        • Sad
        • Love
        • Like
      • 1 reply
    • Is it time to start calling out Bad Santas?
      Is it time to start calling out Bad Santas?

      Do you think we should start calling out those in our community whose actions or behavior is unbecoming of Santa Claus or Mrs. Claus?
        • Wow
        • Like
      • 94 replies
    • Backlash Building Against The Man Who Invented Christmas
      Backlash Building Against The Man Who Invented Christmas

      ChristmasWeekly.com
      September 7, 2017

      EXCERPT:

      There is a new Christmas movie headed to theaters this Christmas about Charles Dickens about his creation of A Christmas Carol and Christmas purists hate it. Already.

      The film has a stellar cast that features the dreamy-eyed Dan Stevens as Dickens and the legendary Christopher Plummer as Scrooge. Here is the trailer:

      “This is a very presumptuous film,” said Christmas fan and would-be film critic, Arnold Yates, via MSN. “Charles Dickens was great but he certainly didn’t invent Christmas. Bah Humbug!”

      That sentiment is growing online as the preview makes the rounds.
        • Confused
        • Like
      • 14 replies
    • Seeking recognition
      Seeking recognition is a downward path for a legend who performs his tasks in the veil of night.

      Recently, a fellow portrayer of Santa posted an image on Facebook that they constructed to look like a magazine cover with him on it and several story snips like many publications have on their covers.  You may have seen it if they are your friend on Facebook.  It looks okay.  The composition is good, but the rendering when uploading it to Facebook became distorted it and it is quite pixelated when you look at it from a development standpoint.
        • Love
        • Like
      • 13 replies
    • Not Everyone Can Be Santa!
      Yes, I said it and it is not meant to hurt anyone’s feelings. I do view many Facebook sites along with websites and posted photos. Frankly, many of these postings should have never been put on public display.
        • Thanks
        • Love
        • Like
      • 1 reply
    • Are you the 'real' Santa?
      How do you answer this question?

      "Are you the 'real' Santa?"

      Read all the replies...
      • 91 replies
    • Infringement? Make up your own mind.
      In the last couple of days, on several different social media and bidding sites, an item has been offered for sale that in my opinion is cause for suspicion.  I would like to bring that product to your attention.

      There is some disagreement over whether or not it is an infringement or not.  I believe it is close enough to be considered as an infringement, but that is not the only the reason behind my post.
        • Like
      • 31 replies
    • Why Bass Pro Shops’ longtime Santa won’t be back this Christmas
      Why Bass Pro Shops’ longtime Santa won’t be back this Christmas

      Christmas is going to be a little different this year for families whose traditions include visiting Santa at Bass Pro Shops. Paul Davis, who spent the last nine years as the Bass Pro Santa in Ashland, will not be there anymore.
        • Sad
        • Like
      • 98 replies
About | Forums | Blogs | Newsletter | Contact


© 2019 MJR Group. LLC. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Copyright IP Policy

Proud affiliate of My Merry Christmas!

Subscribe to the ClausNet Gazette

Enter your email address to subscribe to our monthly newsletter.

About ClausNet

The ClausNet community is the largest social network and online resource for Santa Claus, Mrs. Claus, Elves, Reindeer Handlers, and Santa helpers for the purposes of sharing stories, advice, news, and information.
×
×
  • Create New...