A dramatic rescue played out on the partially frozen Matanuska River Friday. Emergency crews, quite literally, held on for deer life.

Eight-month-old Arthur got himself stranded on the icy waterway on Tuesday, after escaping from his pen.

“Unfortunately, he’s loose right now and it’s a little bit of a situation,” Arthur’s owner Brian Schmidt said.

After several failed attempts to get him home, the Mat-Su Water Rescue Team was called in to help.

“This is a first, perfect timing for Christmas though,” one rescuer said.

Arthur’s owners watched the operation nervously.

“He’s our pet. It’s no different from your dog,” Susie Schellschmidt said.

But bringing in Arthur was no easy task.

Denise Hardy from Williams Reindeer Farm came to help, as well.

“We don’t know how stable the ice is because there’s the overflow from the main river and it’s coming out from under the ice,” Hard said.

With a tranquilizer gun in hand, Mat-Su Borough chief animal control officer Matt Hardwig and the rescue team braved the chilly water.

The promise of food alone was as enough to capture the runaway. And Arthur wasn’t interested in being pulled by a sled or going back in the water, but rescuers didn’t give him much choice.

The reindeer was no worse for wear, just a little icy. Animal Control decided it was best to tranquilize Arthur before transporting him back home.

Schellschmidt says Arthur’s rescue is a gift she’ll forever be thankful for.

“It’s going to be an awesome Christmas,” she said, as she hugged each member of the rescue team.

She’s simply happy to have her reindeer home for the holidays.

KTVA 11’s Shannon Ballard can be reached via email or on Facebook and Twitter.