With 130 landscaped acres, an indoor arena, and an expansive outdoor arena, Rooker Training Stable has room for aspiring steed whisperers of all ages, experience levels, and disciplines. During each one-hour lesson, experienced instructors and friendly stallions instill apprentice jockeys with the confidence and know-how to connect with their equine companions without morphing into centaurs. In addition to a solid grounding in trotting tactics, students absorb the fundamentals of grooming and tacking horses pre- and post-riding. Groupon holders can request to take lessons with others, but each rider must have her or his own Groupon.
Even as a young child, Theresa had a penchant for seeking out animals in need. Her parents and relatives can endlessly recount stories of her rescue attempts, which continued until her husband, Earl, emphatically insisted that three dogs were enough in the family. Earl had not seen the last of Theresa’s passion, however; she eventually left her career in the computer industry, and the two teamed up to open The Animal Lodge. Though it proved to be hard work, Theresa convincingly describes the benefits of her new profession: "We come to work in the morning and instead of seeing a bunch of grumpy people who have not had their coffee yet, we see wagging tails, licking tongues, and happy dances in everyone we meet."
Today, the duo works together to keep pets in comfort with daycare and overnight boarding facilities complete with heated floors during the winter, air conditioning during the summer, and a fenced-in yard for outdoor playtime. In addition to the regular bunks, the deluxe wilderness lodge—furnished with a bed, a chair, a television set, and mounted antlers rife with chew marks—recreates the comfortable atmosphere of home for nervous pooches. Groomer Nancy Oberg draws on her canine cosmetology training to round out the lodge’s services with baths, trims, and deep-tissue belly rubs.
Owner and licensed massage therapist Juan Medina's commitment to comfort adds a personal touch to MiStar Massage, which he named after his daughters, Miya and Starla. As a military veteran, Medina approaches healing with compassion and diligence, personally consulting with clients to identify their individual treatment goals before kneading muscles with fully body, clinical, and trigger point massages. The private treatment room at MiStar exudes a vibrant personality, with bold crimson walls bedecked with a Spanish guitar, Russian nesting dolls, and other multicultural artwork. To personalize each treatment, Medina encourages guests to bring their own iPod or organ grinder monkey along to play their preferred music.
The Preuss family's vaulting, 22,000-square-foot supply store enhances owners’ relationships with their pets. Dogs delight at the Everlasting Fun Ball, which coyly encases treats in an unbreakable chew-toy ($19.99), and cats keep biceps rippling with a Cat It play circuit and workout center ($13.99). A friendly staff of animal experts guides visitors to the right gear for their particular pet project, whether it's to eradicate mid-Thanksgiving silences with a Teach Your Parrot to Talk CD ($20) or to teach a lizard to properly lounge on a Zilla aquatic basking platform (from $19.99). Sweeping selections of ethically raised animals, including clownfish ($24.99), cleaner shrimp ($24.99), gerbils ($14.99), hamsters ($12.99–$19.99), and guinea pigs ($14.99–$49.99), populate the vivacious store, which is committed to eco-friendly business practices.
Cedar Creek Veterinary Clinic's compassionate animal physicians treat all manner of faithful pet patients with kindness and care. Dog and cat examinations encompass thorough routine physicals ($37.50) whereas exotic-creature exams ($42) treat less-ordinary comrades including birds, reptiles, ferrets, and rabbits trapped within magicians’ hats. A host of bug-fighting vaccinations ($11–$22) combat furball ailments, and fecal exams check for the presence of harmful intestinal parasites ($19.50). Pet microchip installation ($36) keeps track of furry pals prone to wandering off in search of bacon-scented postal workers.
Though dogs and humans have very different grooming needs, many dog salons still use tools such as bath tubs and barber shears to clean up pups. The team at Noble Dog Shoppe and Spa, however, cater to the needs of their canine clients by using easy walk-in baths, fur-specific shampoos, and cage-free suites for dogs awaiting their treatments. The trained staff specializes in breed-specific cuts, but can also customize a dog’s look, creating close-cropped looks that shed less or mohawks that add a punk-rock aesthetic to family greeting-card photos. Whether staff are merely clipping nails or completing a full grooming with haircut, bath, and hydro-massage, dogs are pampered with personalized attention. Outside the grooming area, the staff has curated a selection of dog clothes, all-natural treats, and stuffing-free toys that keep pets occupied after grooming sessions.
The experienced instructors at Haverhill Farms forge respectful bonds between humans and horses while cultivating basic riding skills. Situated on 35 acres of windswept meadows and serene forests, Haverhill Farms welcomes riders of all skill levels for year-round use of its facilities. Two large outdoor and two indoor rings set the stage for professional instruction, which ranges from beginning horsemanship lessons to advanced jumping and dressage. The indoor rings feature heated observation rooms, giving onlookers a great vantage point from which to observe teachers demonstrating how to control the steed's stride and speed. Students also learn proper horse care, as well as how to use tongue clicks to signal sightings of undercover donkeys in search of work.