A Drumheller Valley man experienced the true meaning of Christmas first hand recently when he was called upon to rescue one of Santa's reindeer.
Okay, it was a wild deer, not Santa's, but the emergency was real when the animal became stuck in the ice on the Red Deer River near Lehigh.
Wildlife filmmaker Matthew Todd Paproski was surfing social media when he saw a post about the deer and headed out to help.
Paproski, who has emergency rescue experience, got into the water while others helped from shore.
"We were right next to each other looking at each other and it was a big doe, but she was so weak there was nothing she could do to hurt me," he recalled. "I got around behind her and I got the rope somehow wrapped around her, she was sitting there just barely able to move and then, all of a sudden, life came to her and she jumped up and she was so happy and in such a haste to get away she slid on her bum all the way across the river."
With the help of an editor and a computer expert, they produced a two minute video of the deer rescue and posted it to the Starland Studios Facebook page.
"We're getting some emails from people saying just let the deer die or shoot it and end its suffering," allowed Paproski. "On the other hand, if there's an animal so clearly in distress and there's people on shore in distress watching it, the only thing to do is help."
He also thinks the timing of the event, just before Christmas, also sends a clear message.
"This holiday season, when people have their new IPhones and IPads to play with, what a neat little story to motivate people to not only care about wildlife, but adopt dogs and cats and care about animals that are out in the freezing cold and, at the end of the day, care about each other."