Along time ago, I wrote a letter to Santa. I waited patiently for a response, but it never came. At first, I chalked it up to mail delivery issues at the North Pole. Maybe a polar bear ate it. Maybe a fierce wind swept it out to the Arctic ice. Maybe an elf forgot to put it in Santa’s in box. I didn’t know. So I waited. And waited. And waited.

Then, just last week, out of the blue, an envelope arrived. It was a bit tattered from the long journey. But it had an unmistakable return address. I know of just the one guy at the North Pole after all. So it had to be from him. And it was!

He was really nice. It wasn’t a form letter or anything like that. He addressed it to me personally and even thanked me for the cookies and milk I left out for him on one of his recent visits. It seems he and Mrs. Claus might even be adopting a dog of their own soon. (Apparently, Rudolph needs a loyal friend who won’t laugh, call him names, or exclude him from games.)

He also explained that there are so many people contacting him now via social media that it’s really hard to keep up with all of the regular mail.

Anyway, the whole letter was awesome and I’m going to frame it. He’s coming back this way in a few weeks, and he said he’d stop by. I’m so excited.

He did let me know, however, that he found my letter to be a little bit funny. In the letter, I explained that I was very worried about whether I had been naughty or nice. Being a dog, and a terrier at that, I sometimes do things that might not be all that great. It’s standard stuff – squirrel chasing, barking at deer, tearing up a shoe or two. But I was still concerned.

What Santa told me in his letter was that dogs are never truly naughty. Never! He said we are some of the kindest souls on this earth. He said we’re amazing creatures. The heroic among us go to war, fight crime, detect illness, guide the blind, and provide therapy. Yet, he noted, even the most ordinary of us enrich the lives of our people in extraordinary ways. He said some of the tiniest of us are the mightiest, and some of the largest of us are the most gentle. He said we all understand something that very few people understand: unconditional love.

But what he wrote at the end of the letter was the best compliment of all. He said that he brings gifts once a year, but that dogs are gifts each and every day.

Thank you, Santa. I think you’re pretty special too. Can’t wait to see you again! I’m counting the days.

Albert, a Jack Russell Terrier, is Chairman of the Board of Wylie Wagg, a shop for dogs, cats, and their people, with locations in VA and DC.