The spirit of Christmas was in the air. Excitement was everywhere over the expected visit from Santa Claus and his reindeer.
This year, however, the visit from Santa almost did not happen! And it was all because of an evil-eyed reindeer named Dirty Dick.
Our story begins at a ranch in southern Alberta, near Calgary, where Dirty Dick lived. As most people know, when breeding season comes around, male deer lose their common sense and good judgment. And so it was with Dirty Dick. When he went into the rut at the end of each August, he become one of the orneriest and cantankerous reindeer imaginable. He would challenge anyone who came near his harem of reindeer ladies.
Every day Dirty Dick would herd and boss his harem relentlessly, sometimes not even allowing them to eat. The reindeer especially liked the pellets provided to them by the nice farm manager, Dr. Chapel. (Dr. Chapel is a veterinarian known to be handy with a scalpel.)
Dirty Dick challenged Dr. Chapel every single day during the rutting season. Whenever anyone would come to the gate, Dirty Dick would come right over, circle around with his head tipped to one side so that he could display his big antlers and show the whites of his eye. This ritual earned him the title of "Dirty Dick the evil-eyed reindeer."
Another display for which Dirty Dick became infamous was his habit of tramping with his back feet and peeing on them. Though possibly considered attractive to some creatures, neither Dr. Chapel nor the women in Dirty Dick's harem were impressed with these ritualistic exhibitions. It just made him dirty and stinky!
The reindeer females soon became less and less interested in him. They were more fond of Dr. Chapel and ran to him when he brought them the reindeer pellets. This enraged Dirty Dick. He continued to charge forward and give Dr. Chapel the evil eye. Dirty Dick's brewing resentment continued well past breeding season, leaving Dr. Chapel at his wit's end.
One day, Dr. Chapel said, "Dirty Dick, I've had enough. Either you lose that ornery, horny attitude, or you have two choices - reindeer steaks or a hunting ranch in Saskatchewan."
"Big talk," thought Dirty Dick, glaring at Dr. Chapel. "I dare you to step into my pen and say that!"
As Dr. Chapel headed back across the yard, Dirty Dick trotted away. If the female reindeer were no longer interested, then it was time to pass on his premium genetics elsewhere.
His first stop was the elk paddock. As Dirty Dick approached the somewhat disinterested elk cows, a big bull elk came charging towards him. It didn't take long for Dirty Dick to realize that he was no match for the bull!
Disgruntled, Dick took his big black foul mood and stormed back to the handling facility. Before he knew what was happening, Dr. Chapel had slammed the gate closed and locked Dirty Dick into the catch pen.
"Hey, you big goof," grunted Dirty Dick, "let me outta here!" Charging the gate, Dirty Dick challenged Dr. Chapel.
"Old Santa has a nice one-way present for you this year," sang Dr. Chapel. "Merry Christmas."
"Bah, humbug!" snorted Dirty Dick as he paced the fence. Suddenly, Dirty Dick stopped in his tracks. It occurred to him that, since mature male reindeer drop their antlers well before Christmas, the reindeer pulling Santa's sleigh must be females. Everyone knows that Santa's reindeer have antlers.
"My work here is done," thought Dirty Dick. "Time to head to the North Pole. There must be some willing females there!"
Dirty Dick knew that getting to the North Pole would not be easy. He would need a Transportation Authorization Permit from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), an export permit from Alberta Fish and Wildlife, proof of enrollment in a CWD Surveillance program from Alberta Agriculture, Food and Rural Development (AAFRD), proof of freedom from spiny-tailed larvae, a health certificate from the herd veterinarian and an import permit from the North West Territories or Nunavut (depending on which one claimed jurisdiction over the North Pole).
It was a good thing that Dr. Chapel maintained a negative herd status and the ranch was free of spiny-tailed larvae. After many calls to various government offices, Dirty Dick's permits to travel were in place. (Dirty Dick may have been ornery, but he was as law abiding and compliant with regulations as most Canadians).
So early in December, Dirty Dick opened the gate to his paddock, and began his long journey to the North Pole. (After all, he was a reindeer whose relatives make long migrations in Canada's north every year.) After many days, taking time to eat and rest, he finally made it to Santa's village on Christmas Eve.
Even though it was dark during the day, Dirty Dick soon located Santa's reindeer simply by hearing the tell-tale clicking of hooves. Through the moonlight, Dick could see the antlers on Santa's fine female reindeer.
Dirty Dick wasted no time in doing his reindeer dance and rounding up the herd. Even though he had lost his own antlers, Dick was bigger than the other reindeer. Soon he had Dasher and Dancer, Prancer and Vixen, Comet and Cupid, and Donner and Blitzen running away from Santa's village out on to the tundra.
Once they were safely away from the village, Dirty Dick began to approach his new harem with a "come on" line which consisted of two or three low grunts. For some unknown reason, all the reindeer refused his invitations to make baby reindeer. Getting concerned that he was losing his touch, Dirty Dick looked at the reindeer more closely. Much to his surprise, he discovered that they were all MALE reindeer.
"How can this be?" he thought. "I've been deceived!"
Just then, Santa came along, looking for his reindeer to hitch up to his sleigh for the Christmas run.
"Well, if it isn't Dirty Dick. I suppose you were thinking my reindeer were all females, were you?" announced Santa. "Didn't Dr. Chapel ever tell you that castrated male reindeer lose their antlers AFTER Christmas!"
Dazed and confused, Dirty Dick just stared at Santa.
"Ho ho ho!" cheered Santa as he guided his reindeer into the night.
"Good grief!" thought Dirty Dick, still feeling somewhat bewildered. Oh well - since I'm up north anyway, I might as well find myself a nice reindeer herd with lots of females. And off he trotted to do just that!