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A movie star lives the good life on North Dakota farm

Rosebud, a puppy who had starred in the movie “Santa Buddies,” which Ellen watched being filmed near Vancouver, British Columbia, as her wish from Make-A-Wish Foundation of North Dakota experience, turned 14 in early August and enjoys the life of a North Dakota farm dog.

Rosebud A golden retriever sits on a rock surrounded by yellow and red flowers
Rosebud, pictured at her North Dakota farm home, turned 14 in August 2022.
Contributed / Ellen Gregoire
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When I am traveling for story interviews and covering agricultural events, two of the most oft-asked questions from people I meet are “How is Ellen?” followed quickly with “How is Rosebud?”

I am glad to report that both my daughter and her golden retriever are healthy and happy. Ellen, who was 5 years old and a kindergartner when she was diagnosed with leukemia in 2008 now is a 19-year-old college sophomore majoring in early childhood education. Rosebud, a puppy who had starred in the movie “Santa Buddies,” which Ellen watched being filmed near Vancouver, British Columbia, as her wish from Make-A-Wish Foundation of North Dakota experience, turned 14 in early August and enjoys the life of a North Dakota farm dog.

Like many dogs, Rosebud loves rolling in stuff — the stinkier the better — along gravel roads, dashing out to the garden to check out which vegetables she can snag, and snarfing down the food that Casey and Nova, our other two golden retrievers, pull off of the kitchen counter when we’re not looking.

Rosebud, according to the American Kennel Club, at age 14, would be 88 in human years, and has beaten the odds of her life expectancy, which is 10-12 years. She, like her owner, was diagnosed with cancer, and also like her owner, faced it with spirit and a positive attitude and survived it.

Both Ellen and Rosebud, besides living their everyday lives, continue to advocate for children with cancer or other life-threatening health issues, through their volunteer work with Make-A-Wish Foundation of North Dakota.


Over the years, the two have made television appearances, attended fundraisers and gone to schools on behalf of Make-A-Wish Foundation of North Dakota. Separately, Ellen has organized fundraisers, hosted a virtual benefit and done newspaper interviews about her wish, all of them with guest appearances by Rosebud.

Rosebud, a blend of a spitfire who defended her toys from her puppy brothers the morning Ellen met her on the set of Santa Buddies and then nestled on her lap during the afternoon, has the same personality as a senior that she did in her youth.

A girl in a purple coat and pink pants runs with a golden retriever puppy.
It was love at first sight when Ellen Gregoire and Rosebud, a 16-week-old golden retriever puppy, met on the set of Santa Buddies in December 2008 in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Contributed / Key Pix

Rosebud’s white muzzle and occasional stiffness are reminders that she has gotten up in years, but she still turns dizzying circles when she sees her food dish, gallops up to Ellen when she calls her and won’t back down if one of our other dogs tries to steal a treat from her.

Best of all she remains a loyal, loving companion to Ellen, wagging her tail and barking when she spies Ellen walking up the driveway after a run, and snuggling with her on the sofa when Ellen is reading or watching TV.

Fourteen years ago, when Santa Buddies producer Anna McRoberts gave Rosebud to Ellen, my prayer was that they both would live long healthy lives. Our family is blessed that Ellen is on the road to doing that and Rosebud already has done it.

I believe that one of the reasons Ellen and Rosebud both have flourished is because they have grown up on a farm doing the things that kids and dogs who live on one do: running, playing and getting dirty. While not allowing them — at least when we knew about it — to do anything dangerous, we didn’t try to bubble wrap them to keep them safe, but instead encouraged them to do normal kid and dog things.

I am realistic enough to know that, at her age, Rosebud’s health could fail quickly and that her days on earth are limited. But rather than worrying about and dreading that day, instead I treasure every moment she and Ellen spend time together and hold the sight of them happily enjoying each other’s company deep in my heart where it always will live.

In the meantime farm life is the good life for both of them.


A girl in a black t-shirt and a golden retriever dog with a pink bandanna are in front of sunflowers.
Ellen Gregoire and Rosebud, her golden retriever, pictured on their North Dakota farm on Aug. 14, 2022, have been best friends since they met on the set of the movie Santa Buddies in December 2008.
Contributed / Brendan Gregoire

Ann Bailey lives on a farmstead near Larimore, N.D., that has been in her family since 1911. You can reach her at 218-779-8093 or abailey@agweek.com.

Related Topics: RURAL LIFEPETS
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: abailey@agweek.com or phone at: 218-779-8093.
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