Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Wanted: reindeer wranglers. Elves preferred.

Holly the reindeer peers through a fence at the Williams Reindeer Farm.
Photo courtesy of the Williams family
The holiday season is officially upon us.

The Williams Reindeer Farm is hiring.

Just check the jobs listing on craigslist for today. You'll find an ad seeking "Reindeer Trainer - (Butte) customer service"

"We are looking for adults that enjoy working with animals. We will be training and refresher training some reindeer in preparation for the upcoming Holiday season. We are looking for help one day a week for 1 hour. We will teach you, you just need to come with a good patient attitude and willingness to learn. Please do not call..our phone already rings off the hook. You can respond via email if you are interested. ( We will pay $10 per 1 hour session. I'm looking for approx 4 -5 people over age 21."

The Post did call the farm, only because we had some questions. And we know the Williams are nice people. Denise Hardy, Tom and Gene Williams' oldest daughter, now runs the day-to-day operations on the farm, located in the Butte on Bodenburg Loop. Hardy's duties include tours and the gift shop. They also include the reindeer training. 

Hardy posted the ad because she's looking for some new folks to handle the animals after relying on volunteers. Time is of the essence -- it's getting late to prep for the holiday season but the farm was busy with fall events like the Hay Maze.

Successful job candidates will get to train the farm's youngest animals - "babies" born this summer - to wear a halter and eventually a harness. They'll give the more experienced animals a refresher course on getting in a trailer and wearing a harness, jingle bells and all. 

Reindeer trainers with the right qualities might also end up trotting out with the animals at holiday public events coming up next month. The reindeer pull Santa's sleigh in Anchorage and at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, take part in Colony Christmas and, yes, scramble around with strange humans at the Fur Rondy Festival event known as "Running of the Reindeer." 

To that end, Hardy said, she's hoping to find some animal-savvy trainers who are good with people too. The Anchorage Tree Lighting Ceremony in Town Square draws thousands of people looking to pet some friendly reindeer. So it would be great, she said, if the reindeer trainers are friendly and approachable, "smiling and kinda elflike. We really don't need any grumps."

The farm doesn't expect candidates to have lots of experience training reindeer. But people responding to that ad do need to love animals and be able to read them. A little courage would be good. Reindeer do have antlers, after all. 

 Hardy is looking for reliable workers. She knows $10 an hour isn't a lot. 

"It's not a position they're going to get rich on but it's certainly something they'll get rich rewards from watching the animals grow and change," she said. 

-- Zaz Hollander

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