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Happy Paw-li-days: Elvis the Elf helps Puggle and Huckleberry celebrate the season

By Mike O'Kelly

Puggle is a hospital dog at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital

Elvis the Elf hangs out among the festive background as Puggle gets ready for some holiday crafting. (Photo courtesy of Brittany Reed)

Who’s a good boy?

There’s no doubt Puggle and Huckleberry of the St. Jude Paws at Play Hospital Dog Program have been good this year. But a helper from the North Pole has been dispatched to ensure the dogs stay on their best behavior throughout the holidays.

Elvis the Elf arrived in early December to fulfill the dogs’ wish of spreading holiday cheer throughout campus and on social media through posts on the St. Jude Paws Instagram account. Elvis has fit right in—joining the doggy duo in a variety of daily holiday activities.

“The holidays look different this year. We felt like Elvis the Elf would be a fun way to bring some joy and showcase different parts of the hospital so Elvis could see the fun work they do,” said Brittany Reed of St. Jude Child Life, who is Puggle’s primary handler.

When they’re on campus, Puggle and Huckleberry don’t have much time to get into trouble. They spend their days working with patients, visiting with employees and taking well-deserved naps to recharge. Still, Puggle and Huckleberry may have shown a bit of playful hesitancy when they learned Elvis would be keeping a watchful eye on them.

“They realized they must always be on their best behavior and couldn’t try for sneaky snacks,” Reed joked. “They were also curious to know if they would be on the nice list.”

To secure their spots on Santa’s list, Puggle and Huckleberry visited the St. Jude School Program’s classroom on December 7 for National Letter Writing Day to pen a letter to Santa with Elvis’ help:

Huckleberry is a hospital dog at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital

Huckleberry finds his new friend Elvis the Elf practicing on a tiny mock CT scanner. (Photo courtesy of Shandra Taylor)


Dear Santa,

We have been very good boys this year! We wish for Happy Pawlidays for our patients and families and treats!

Love and Licks,

Huck and Pug


In addition, Elvis donned his blue suede shoes as the team visited the Child Life Music Therapy Room. As Elvis sat atop the piano, he strummed a candy cane guitar.

Puggle, Huckleberry and Elvis also teamed up to practice on the CT mock imaging scanner, , drink hot cocoa, make crafts in a hospital playroom, send a Secret Santa package with help from St. Jude Mail Room staff and celebrate Huckleberry’s third birthday.

Christmas Eve, the trio will visit with St. Jude President and CEO James R. Downing, MD, to deliver a final report on their holiday efforts. Oh, what fun it’s been, but soon, Elvis will leave the building until next year.


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