Grass Valley, CA — Ruth Rasmussen, manager of the reindeer facility at Sammie’s Friends, had never seen anything like this. Last week a portly man wearing a red and white stocking cap pulled into the McCourtney Road animal shelter and said breathlessly, “Please help! We have a large number of reindeer in an 18-foot travel trailer parked at the Nevada County Fairgrounds, and we need to do something with them. We have reindeer in the truck cab, we have reindeer in the bathroom, everywhere you look there’s reindeer, and no one is shouting out with glee!”
When Rasmussen asked for the number of reindeer to be surrendered, the man said he couldn’t count them all, but he guessed there were close to a hundred. Rasmussen, a seasoned professional who has worked at the shelter for fifteen years and has seen everything under the sun, was shocked. She protested that there was no way her reindeer facility could take in that many, saying ‘All of the reindeer shelters are full at this time of year-there’s always a seasonal influx, as folks drop off their older reindeer to get new, fresher ones with more pulling capacity.
Following the rotund fellow, who was remarkable jolly for a man in his situation, Rasmussen called 911, and officers from Nevada County Animal Control, raced to the fairgrounds, where they pulled up alongside a red truck pulling a travel trailer that was indeed stuffed to the brim with reindeer. Antlers poked out of every window in the travel trailer, as the curious animals greeted their uniformed visitors. The reindeer appeared alarmed at the ruckus of this chaotic scene, and the big fellow became quite wary. He said, “These reindeer aren’t used to being around a lot of people, and I’m afraid they might stampede. There’s no telling what kind of damage they’ll cause if that happens. I know, they’re used to elves-Are there any elves around? There must be at this time of year. Please, please, bring the elves in before somebody gets hurt.
Stefanie Geckler, the savvy chief of Animal Control, replied, “Darn it, there are some elves here during the Christmas Fair, but that’s over, and what bad luck, just last year, Eddie the Elf, the local elf legend, retired. What can be done?” Geckler paused a moment, and then she said, “Wait, wait, I have an idea. We animal control officers can dress up like elves and herd the reindeer calmly into trailers.” Rasmussen put out a call to the nearly 5,000 shelter volunteers, and reindeer trailers began to pull into the fairgrounds. Volunteers flocked to the fairgrounds bearing elf hats and stripped leggings that were then donned by the animal control officers, who rang bells, sang Christmas carols and danced brightly into the travel trailer. Soothed by the sight of the elves, the reindeer calmed down and skipped out of the trailer into the arms of the volunteers, who loaded them up and sent them on their merry way down to the shelter.
However, the story doesn’t end here. Sammie’s Friends still needs your help. Please, if you have any surplus reindeer chow or litter, please drop it off at the shelter. Rasmussen also wanted the Scooper to sound out the call for extra reindeer walkers, and of course, once the reindeer are spayed and neutered, she will be seeking foster homes for them, then forever homes.
Please go to Sammiesfriends.org if you wish to make a donation to help the reindeer. Your generosity will go down in history. And, if you visit the shelter to see the reindeer, please remember to wear your elf costume so as not to alarm them.