The Canine Christmas Movie: Two Paws Down

Brow Beat
Slate's Culture Blog
Dec. 23 2009 5:57 PM

The Canine Christmas Movie: Two Paws Down

In Sweden, Christmas is a time for the whole family to gather around the television and watch a duck . Here in America, the Christmas fare is covered with fur. On a recent Sunday evening, pooch-loving tube watchers had to choose between simultaneously airing made-for-TV canine holiday films. In CBS' A Dog Named Christmas , based on the novel of the same name , a developmentally disabled 20-year-old man urges everyone in his small town to adopt a pound puppy. In The Family Channel's The Dog Who Saved Christmas , a pooch voiced by Mario Lopez saves his family from a yuletide home invasion.

Advertisement

A dog in a Santa hat or with a wreath around its neck, or pawing an ornament, or donning a Rudlophian nose is a longstanding symbol of Christmas dreck. Before A Dog Named Christmas came 2005's The 12 Dogs of Christmas , a tale of hounds saved from an evil dogcatcher by a spunky Depression-era girl. The Dog Who Saved Christmas has its pup predecessors as well. That talking-dog picture employs the most-widespread technique in the Frank Caprahuahua genre: adapt, borrow, or steal a bipedal story (in this case Home Alone ) for a quadrupedal cast. Take a seat, Macaulay Culkin! You're in, adorable yellow lab!

While the dog-Christmas celluloid combo platter dates back to at least the 1930s and 1940s see the cartoons The Pups' Christmas and Hector's Hectic Life the genre truly exploded with the advent of direct-to-video animated kiddie fare. In An All Dogs Christmas Carol , a 1998 sequel to All Dogs Go to Heaven , Charles Dickens' tale of holiday salvation gets new bite thanks to hounds voiced by Ernest Borgnine and Dom DeLuise. In 2001's Nine Dog Christmas , man's best friend gets called on to save the day when Santa's reindeer get the flu. (An elf played by Scott Hamilton teaches the dogs to fly.) And this year brought Disney's Santa Buddies: The Legend of Santa Paws , in which a talking dog named Puppy Paws must save Christmas "when the magical Christmas Icicle starts to melt and the world begins to forget the true meaning of the season."

Even Hollywood's celebridogs aren't immune from the Christmas cash-in. In Benji's Very Own Christmas Story the Bad News Bears Go to Japan of the canine Yuletide genre the mutt superstar encounters Kris Kringle whilst on a publicity tour in Switzerland and must convince him to do his toy-delivering duty. Rather than bark, scamper, and wag his tail, Benji saves the world by sitting perfectly still and getting carried around by his various human co-stars. Perhaps this is the only way to carry out your Christmas-dog duties with dignity: Close your eyes, scratch yourself, and think of Easter.

Josh Levin is Slate's executive editor.

TODAY IN SLATE

Culturebox

The End of Pregnancy

And the inevitable rise of the artificial womb.

Doctor Tests Positive for Ebola in New York City

How a Company You’ve Never Heard of Took Control of the Entire Porn Industry

The Hot New Strategy for Desperate Democrats

Blame China for everything.

The Questions That Michael Brown’s Autopsies Can’t Answer

Foreigners

Kiev Used to Be an Easygoing Place

Now it’s descending into madness.

Technology

Don’t Just Sit There

How to be more productive during your commute.

There Has Never Been a Comic Book Character Like John Constantine

Which Came First, the Word Chicken or the Word Egg?

  News & Politics
The Slate Quiz
Oct. 24 2014 12:10 AM Play the Slate News Quiz With Jeopardy! superchampion Ken Jennings.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 23 2014 5:53 PM Amazon Investors Suddenly Bearish on Losing Money
  Life
Outward
Oct. 23 2014 5:08 PM Why Is an Obscure 1968 Documentary in the Opening Credits of Transparent?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 23 2014 11:33 AM Watch Little Princesses Curse for the Feminist Cause
  Slate Plus
Working
Oct. 23 2014 11:28 AM Slate’s Working Podcast: Episode 2 Transcript Read what David Plotz asked Dr. Meri Kolbrener about her workday.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 23 2014 6:55 PM A Goodfellas Actor Sued The Simpsons for Stealing His Likeness. Does He Have a Case?
  Technology
Technology
Oct. 23 2014 11:47 PM Don’t Just Sit There How to be more productive during your commute.
  Health & Science
Science
Oct. 23 2014 5:42 PM Seriously, Evolution: WTF? Why I love the most awkward, absurd, hacked-together species.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.