The light of doggy movie star Rosebud still shines brightly on our North Dakota farm

The most wonderful part of Ellen's 2008 wish from Make-A-Wish North Dakota was that it didn’t end with our return to our Larimore, North Dakota, farm. Anna, who knew that Ellen and Rosebud had bonded on the Santa Buddies movie set, gave her Rosebud and arranged to have the puppy flown to Winnipeg on Dec. 17.

Rosebud and Ellen (1)
Ellen and Rosebud are the best of friends.

In the midst of the deep darkness that is the physical reality of December and the holiday frenzy that threatens to dim my spirit, Ellen’s dog, Rosebud, is a reminder of the divine Light that entered the world this month and of the goodness of His people.

In December 2008, which was made even gloomier by Ellen’s cancer, Rosebud, a 16-week-old ball of squirmy, golden canine fur, became part of our family, thanks to the generosity of Make-A-Wish North Dakota and Santa Buddies movie producer Anna McRoberts.

The previous week Make-A-Wish North Dakota had granted then-5-year-old Ellen’s wish to travel to Vancouver, British Columbia, with our family to see the Santa Buddies movie being filmed. While Ellen was on the set, she fell in love with Rosebud, one of the five golden retriever puppies in the Disney’s Key Pix production. That, in itself, raised the spirits of Ellen, who had been diagnosed with leukemia on June 3, 2008, and of me, her dad, Brian, and older brothers, Brendan, then-11, and Thomas, then-9, who had traveled the cancer journey with her for the past six months.

Make-A-Wish North Dakota made us feel like royalty from beginning to end of the Vancouver trip, flying us there on an airline that gave our wish family all of the free food and soda pop that we desired, reserving for our family a beautiful hotel in which to stay downtown and booking a limousine ride to the Santa Buddies set.

The most wonderful part of the wish, though, was that it didn’t end with our return to our Larimore, North Dakota, farm. Anna, who knew that Ellen and Rosebud had bonded on the movie set, arranged to have the puppy flown to Winnipeg on Dec. 17. Brian and I picked up Rosebud that afternoon and surprised Ellen with her a few hours later.


Rosebud (1)
Rosebud, Ellen Gregoire and Brian Gregoire watched a scene of Santa Buddies being filmed in December 2008. Submitted photo

We had kept Anna's gift to Ellen secret in case something derailed Rosebud’s arrival so when we carried the puppy into the friend’s house that Ellen was visiting, she couldn't believe her eyes.

That was the beginning of a girl and dog friendship that, I’m blessed to report, has only grown stronger.

Rosebud, 91 in human years, remains happy, healthy and Ellen’s loyal “bestie.” No matter the situation, Rosebud has been a solid rock on which Ellen could lean.

Her faithful companion has comforted Ellen during the two years of cancer treatment that made her feel lousy, laid with her on the couch when she had injuries in her teenage years that prevented her from running cross country and track, and was a furry shoulder to cry on during the challenges that come with the first semester of college.

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Elen Gregoire and Rosebud had many adventures on the farm when they were growing up. Photo courtesy of Brian Gregoire.


Rosebud also shared joy with Ellen, playing with their human and animal friends, trotting along beside her on hundreds of miles of gravel roads and hiking trails, and celebrating with her at Ellen’s 10-year cancer remission party.

Together, the duo also have raised funds for Make-A-Wish and made appearances at countless events. Ellen, though a kindergartener when she was diagnosed with leukemia, realized the work and commitment that went into her wish, and, soon after she received it, began raising awareness about the organization that granted it to her.

During the past 13 years Rosebud has been at Ellen’s side during television appearances, at fundraisers and at the events of businesses that support Make-A-Wish. Their latest fundraising venture is on Facebook at .

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Ellen Gregoire and Rosebud have done many fundraising events for Make-A-Wish North Dakota during the past 13 years. Ann Bailey / Agweek

I believe more in miracles than I do in fate and credit the chain of events that led up to Ellen receiving Rosebud to God, who worked through the staff of Make-A-Wish North Dakota and Anna for Ellen’s wish.

I am grateful to Him and for them for brightening Ellen’s life with Rosebud, a light that continues to shine.


Ellen and Rosebud (4(
Ellen and Rosebud remain the best of friends 13 years after Ellen was granted a wish from Make-A-Wish North Dakota to visit the set of the Santa Buddies near Vancouver, British Columbia. Photo courtesy of Ellen Gregoire.

Ann is a journalism veteran with nearly 40 years of reporting and editing experiences on a variety of topics including agriculture and business. Story ideas or questions can be sent to Ann by email at: or phone at: 218-779-8093.
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