Tanis, Egypt. 1937. Indiana Jones descends into the fabled Well of the Souls, and lands in a slithering knot of black asps. The swashbuckler is struck dumb with terror, managing only to mutter the now iconic phrase: “Snakes. Why’d it have to be snakes?” Indiana Jones is not alone in his phobia. Tim Criswell hopes to change that.
Though the House of Reptiles founder doesn’t deny snakes’ potential to inflict harm, he hopes to foster in the public a more nuanced understanding of reptiles. He has amassed dozens of snakes over the years, including exotic specimens such as the indochinese spitting cobra, reticulated gila monster, and black mamba. He houses these serpents in his reptile museum, which was spotlighted in the Times not only for its exotic-species collection, but also for its mission to educate the public about the oft-feared-but-seldom-understood reptiles.
In addition to the museum, House of Reptiles features a retail store staffed by expert snake handlers, who draw upon years of experience to advise fledgling snake owners on proper care. Dozens of snakes are also available for purchase, giving animal lovers new friends who don't insist on cuddling every night.
Club K-9 welcomes well-socialized and evaluated dogs into a clean and spacious environment. Dogs can enjoy an overnight stay in social boarding, or large and small canines can cavort in separate areas during daycare under the supervision of a trained professional. After a full day of play, tired-out pups return to their owners. The center also offers group and private training, as well as bathing with all-natural shampoos and conditioners.
When Eric Simpson first adopted his dog Gunner, he probably couldn't have foreseen how the pup would change his life. After watching daycare improve Gunner's canine social skills, Eric knew he had to open his own daycare facility. Today he and his staff care for pups in three BarkZone locations. Rather than spend all day cooped up in a kennel or watching soap operas on TV, dogs enrolled in daycare play all day in the indoor facility with staff members and other pups. The staff also welcomes overnight guests, and owners can opt to have their dogs walked or groomed during their stay.
At Hound in Hand, lifelong animal lovers and licensed pet-care professionals Aminta Cheadle and Brianna Abdalla care for pets while owners are away. Their services include quick daily walks and taxi service, ferrying pets to grooming appointments or to the vet. During longer absences, they care for animals with daytime or overnight pet-sitting services, walking dogs, cleaning litter boxes, and performing minor household upkeep.
Westside Stables’ trainer and instructor, Katie, started riding at age 4. By the time she was 8, she was participating in jumping and showing events when most kids her age were just starting to neigh on command. Today, she passes on the knowledge she learned during more than 10 years of training to a new generation of horse pilots who take lessons atop friendly and patient horses. Westside Stables also plays host to two summer camps for children aged 5–15, which include riding lessons tailored to campers’ age and ability, lessons on horsemanship, and arts and crafts activities, which taunt horses via the campers’ wanton use of their opposable thumbs.