Fancy footwork


Cast of Characters in our Tale

Cast of Characters in our Tale

Dr. Zach Smith-leading man, Jo-faithful technician, Berenda-fathiful secretary, Kyle-Berenda's faithful husband, Manda-another faithful technician, Dr. Bo Brock-our hero, Kerri-wife of our hero.

After so many years of working together, voice tones and inflections are sometimes more meaningful than words.

Jo, one of our technicians, came around the corner and I didn't understand what she said, but I knew it was making her lips move faster than the words could come out.

Anytime Jo does this, there is an emergency.

I trotted out the back door to see the critter standing in the grass just north of the barn. No problem. We will just hem it up in the corner of the fence and the barn and this emergency will be past tense. Wrong!

A reindeer has more moves than Barry Sanders and this one was glad to be free.

Dr. Zach Smith saw the developing situation and headed to saddle a horse.

Call to action

Berenda, our secretary, saw the situation and headed in to call for help.

Kyle, Berenda's husband, saw the situation and headed for his pick-up.

I saw the situation and visualized $5,000 worth of 1,000-pound reindeer dart off toward the south at about 40 mph.

I took off on foot behind the rascal, just hoping to keep it in sight. The reindeer made a fast cut west and was headed straight for a set of corrals just south of the clinic. Manda, another technician, had anticipated well and was coming in from the flank to shut any gates and bring this chase to a quick end.

Just our luck. There was no place with a gate, only another corner. We slowed down this time and began creeping in. Just about the time we were closing in, the cavalry (Zach) mounted the hills.

It was at this point the chase really began.

Berenda was busy calling people to help. She had cowboys and police saddling horses and devising strategies. Kerri drove up just as Zach was headed down the road hot on Rudolph's trail. As I opened the gate to let Zach into the pasture, I felt a bit of hope that he could rope that rascal and this chase would be over. Zach is good with a rope and now we had a wide-open space.

The deer stopped for a second thinking that it would blend in with the cattle. Zach was hot on the trail. He picked that critter out and zoomed in like ugly on an ape. My anticipation mounted as I watched Zach (alias Roy Cooper) start swinging his rope. He was in perfect position for the catch when I saw the deer causally look over its shoulder. It was at this point that I realized that reindeer have a gear that horses don't have.

The deer headed east toward Los Ybanez, the local beer store. It had managed to lose everyone but Kerri in the Durango. When I caught up to them in my pick-up, the deer was headed toward the prison. By now, the others had arrived. I'm wondering what those prison guards are going to think when a reindeer followed by four vehicles and a horse come racing toward the gate.

Hard time

At first I thought, "Great. That rascal won't be able to get out of that place," but then it dawned on me. I'm not sure if they are going to believe that a reindeer was running through a cotton field in West Texas. They may just shoot first and ask questions later.

Thank goodness we will never know because the speedy rascal turned north and headed for the airport. By now, the horse was out of the picture. He was rundown and so was Zach. I handed the doctor my mobile phone and headed off to prevent a plane crash.

At the south end of the runway. Rudolph headed back to town. I couldn't decide if this was good or bad. Maybe good because we could find a place to trap it, maybe bad because there was traffic. Traffic! Now I'm thinking not only of a $5,000 reindeer, but a $30,000 car! This was turning into an expensive daydream.

Into town we sped. Kerri got lost somewhere in the chase, so this left three pick-ups and five people to somehow keep the marathon-running deer from harm's way.

By now, this deer had run for about 45 minutes and had covered 15 or so miles. He was starting to tire a little, but he looked like he was nowhere near spent. We came in on the east side of town. It was something else to observe the looks on people's faces as we raced from yard to yard trying to corner a reindeer.

Marathon deer

We would get him in a tight spot and then all jump out with ropes and nets. He would put a move on us and then we would all run back to the trucks and tear out after him. This happened time and time again.

This time, the deer darted between a house and a storage shed. I jumped out of the pick-up and was first on the scene. There was a moment as I approached him in this backyard that time stopped and we gazed into one another's eyes. By now my adrenaline was at nearly toxic levels. Rudolph was looking a bit tired. But one thing was apparent, this was where the chase ended for one of us. He was getting out of this yard over my dead body.

He tried one of those halfback moves. Not this time, buddy. I got his left back leg as he bounced by. He was dragging me on my back across the yard, but I was not going to let go. That critter could have dragged me to Tahoka, but I was not lettin' go! About that time, Kyle rounded the corner and finished the capture.

No way, buddy

Just think. An hour-and-a-half ago I was back at the clinic thinking this would be no big deal. Berenda managed to call off the posse. We got Rudolph back to the clinic in one piece. He was panting a bit, but seemed none the worse for wear. No wonder Santa chose these beasts to pull a sleigh all over the world in one night!

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