Poor, poor Rudolph.
Actually, the 8-month-old reindeer -- yes, reindeer -- owned by Rod Gross never had a name. Gross had owned her for only about a month before waking up Wednesday morning and finding her dead, or, more specifically, killed in her pen.
The suspects, he said, ran up to him when he opened the door to 4240 W. F St. at 6 a.m. Wednesday.
"I walked outside, and the dogs came out of the pen to me," Gross said. "They came to me, but when I reached for them, they pulled back. They kind of disappeared."
A neighbor would retrieve them soon after he met the two loose Huskies, and the Lancaster County Sheriff's Office would later cite their owner, Janeth Hernandez, 21, for a dog-at-large violation. Gross surveyed his property, where he keeps reindeer along with his Belgian horses, which have chauffeured scores of newlyweds over the years.
He found another of his five reindeer, Candy, 7, alive but seriously injured. She had suffered a broken rear right leg during the attack. Gross said Thursday he was still trying to determine whether Candy would be put down.
The property was ransacked, too.
"Those dogs ran at least one of those deer through four fences," Gross said.
A sheriff's office report states that the two dogs, Lobo and Shasta, were reported missing Tuesday afternoon from Hernandez's Lincoln home about seven miles away. They were returned to her Wednesday after a sheriff's office investigation began into the death of one reindeer and the wounding of the other. Together, the reindeer are valued at $7,000, the report stated.
Gross said he's kept reindeer in the pens for 14 years, and takes them in twos throughout the region to events such as Christmas parties or tree lightings during the holiday season.
"What do you think the kids would say if they walked out and there was Santa and two of his faithful reindeer?" Gross asks rhetorically on his website, http://www.grossbelgian.com/home.html. "Trust us, that is something they will talk about for years to come."
The reindeer come in several packages -- with sleigh or without, Santa or sans Santa.
"I have whiskers and I have reindeer, but I'm not Santa Claus," Gross said.