Santa's Little Helper is a recurring character in the American animated television series The Simpsons. He is the pet greyhound of the Simpson family. The dog was introduced in the first episode of the show, the 1989 Christmas special "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire", in which his owner abandons him for finishing last in a greyhound race.
Homer Simpson and his son Bart, who are at the race track in hope of winning some money for Christmas presents, see this and decide to adopt the dog. Santa's Little Helper has since appeared frequently on The Simpsons and the plots of many episodes center around him. During the course of the show, he has, for example, fathered litters of puppies, passed obedience school, had surgery for bloat, replaced Duffman as the mascot for Duff Beer, and been trained as a police dog at Springfield's Animal Police Academy. Some of the episodes that focus on Santa's Little Helper have been inspired by popular culture or real experiences that staff members of the show have gone through. Although animals in cartoons often have human traits, Santa's Little Helper generally acts like a real life dog. Cast member Dan Castellaneta currently provides the dog's sounds on the show, although voice artist Frank Welker has also voiced him. Santa's Little Helper has become a popular character following his appearances on The Simpsons. He ranked 27th in Animal Planet's 2003 television special 50 Greatest TV Animals that was based on popularity, name recognition, and the longevity of the shows. He has also been featured in merchandise relating to The Simpsons, such as video games, board games, and comics.