Barking at the Big Screen: The Search for Santa Paws

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 17: French bulldog Odin pose for photos with Santa at the Max-Bone Santa Event NYC on December 17, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images for Max-Bone)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 17: French bulldog Odin pose for photos with Santa at the Max-Bone Santa Event NYC on December 17, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images for Max-Bone) /

Looking for a good Christmassy movie? “The Search for Santa Paws”….isn’t one.

The Search for Santa Paws is a 2010 movie that’s part of the Air Buddies series, the first of two prequels that take place before Santa Buddies. 


Santa Claus (Richard Riehle) learns that a longtime friend of his, Mr. Hucklebuckle, has died. Meanwhile in New York City, Mr. Hucklebuckle’s grandson James Huckle (John Ducey) and his wife Kate (Bonnie Somerville) meet with the lawyer, Mr. Stewart. In order to receive ownership of the building, they must run the toy store profitably for one Christmas.

A girl named Quinn (Kaitlyn Maher) is enrolled into an orphanage/foster home run by Miss Stout (Wendi McClendon-Covey). Will (Madison Pettis), another of the girls at Miss Stout’s, windowshops longingly at a bike at the toy store. Miss Stout is a real Grinch – she hates Christmas, merriment and singing.

A magical ice cavern transforms Mr. Hucklebuckle’s final present to Santa into a real Great Pyrenees, who Santa names Paws. (Paws can talk, because this is an Air Buddies movie.)

Miss Stout incinerates Janey’s doll, James and Kate try to operate the toy store, and Santa and Paws prepare for their big annual trip.

In NYC, Santa runs into Miss Stout, and then gets hit by a taxi, leading to amnesia once he regains consciousness. Then a homeless guy (Chris Coppola) steals Santa’s necklace and bag carrying his suit. Also, Paws gets lost.

Santa gets hired as by James and Kate as a salesman the next day, where he meets Quinn. Since he can’t remember his name, he’s currently going by “Bud.”

With his magic collar, Paws helps some street dogs escape the Franklin the dogcatcher (who is obviously nefarious, firstly because he is a dogcatcher in a dog movie, and secondly because he’s dating Miss Stout).

Paws meets Quinn that night. His magic collar decorates the basement, and Janie and the rest of the girls meet Paws, while Will is the only one who can’t hear him talking.

A highly improbable choreographed song-and-dance number follows, complete with Christmas decorations and fancy dressed thanks to Paws’ magic collar. Miss Stout exiles Will and Paws to the basement for this merrymaking, though she can hear him talking now.

The next morning, because they both lost their crystal necklaces, Bud faints and Paws reverts back to a stuffed animal.

The head elf Eli and Eddy the elf dog run into the homeless guy (whose name is Gus), who returns Santa’s crystal to them.  Paws is nearly incinerated, but is saved and returned to puppy form.

Everyone rushes to the toy store, while Santa has been taken to the hospital, near death. Everyone kidnaps Santa and Paws’ crystal revives him back to health (reverting Paws again), meaning only a high-speed trip to the North Pole’s magical ice cave can save him permanently.

The giant icicle resurrects Paws as an adult, now called Santa Paws, and Gus and the street dogs join the elves.

Quinn and Will are adopted by the Huckles, and James and Kate decide to keep the toy store after all.

Plot holes and stray observations

This is the most frightening Santa ever.  Also, musical numbers don’t fit into Christmas movies very well.

Bill Cobbs, who plays the lawyer Mr. Stewart, also plays Coach Chaney in the original Air Bud. 

The CGI used for the reindeer is terrible.

How does the ice cave magic work? An explanation would’ve been helpful here.

Zachary Gordon and Mitchell Musso voice Paws. Musso had a main role as Oliver on Hannah Montana and a recurring role on Phineas and Ferb as Jeremy.

Wouldn’t Miss Stout be far more upset about all the Christmas decorations in the bedroom than the singing?

Eddy the elf dog is a JRT, which makes sense if North Pole dwellers consume nearly all sugar and chocolate, as Buddy does in Will Ferrell’s Elf.

Why is the taxi from the 1950s? And why is the ambulance a 1950s Ford Thunderbird? They both look cool, but neither is inconspicuous.

G Hannelius, who plays an orphan named Janie, is a main character on TV series Dog With a Blog. 


Throw Annie, Up, The Polar Express and every Hallmark Christmas movie ever together in a blender, and you have The Search for Santa Paws: a curiously joyless film if there ever was one.

Even by the admittedly-low standards of Hallmark Christmas movies, this is one of the worst in existence. It makes no sense and has very little redeeming charm.

Next. Petco advocates for shelter donations over holidays. dark

What are your favorite Christmas movies? Let us know on the Dog O’Day Facebook and Twitter pages.