More than Just Pets

Parker Powerhouses Share How Their Animals Shape Their Lives and Teach Patience, Discipline and Unconditional Love

Meet Beau and Dekan + Anna Mannerfelt

Anna Mannerfelt of Parker was working a face-paced life in New York City, feeling overworked, frenetic and exhausted, when she decided to pick up an old habit from her childhood in Sweden.

“The doctors all say, ‘Here’s a pill for sleeping, for waking up, for being beautiful, for being skinny, and it’s so easy to fall into that trap,” she says. “But instead, I came across Beau in Long Island, and he became my grounding, my pill.”

Her quarter horse, Beau, began as a hobby for her to let off some steam—she spent her childhood riding horses in school in Sweden—but he soon became her whole life. She began competitive equestrian riding and eventually moved to Dallas and then to Parker on the recommendation of a friend, who told Anna about the world-class equestrian centers. 

In Parker, Anna found her second home, Wells Bridge Farm, and she now spends several hours every day training with her horses in between her work as managing partner and CEO of the digital marketing firm Wired Mustang. Anna owns Wired Mustang with her partner, Dave Fingers, who also rides at Wells Bridge Farm.

Now, Anna and her two boys, Beau and Dekan, and spends several weeks out of the year traveling to equestrian competitions around the country.

“I work very hard for their lifestyle. I take this very seriously, maybe because I never had kids of my own,” Anna says of her horses, her training and her competitions. “They are very special to me. It’s more than just a hobby, it’s a lifestyle.”

Even though Anna is an expert horsewoman, she still takes lessons because it's her duty to always improve, she says.

Anna says having a horse is like having a 1,500-pound kid—they each have a distinct personality and need constant pep talks and cuddling, and they even throw temper tantrums when they don’t get the attention they want. With all her competitions, daily grooming, riding and training, she knows her horses just as well as they know her. 

Her horses have taught her patience and discipline, both mental and physical. And they are her way of coping with the rigors of being a business owner.

“There’s stress owning your business. We run on stress,” she says. “But when I’m on horseback, I can’t think of anything else. It’s the best stress management in the world."

Meet Bucky + Dr. Lindsay Mamula-Crippen

Dr. Linsday Mamula-Crippen was in about fourth grade when she discovered her lifelong passion for caring for animals. 

Her cat, Sparky, had been hit by a car near their home in Ken Caryl Ranch southwest of Denver and spent a month at a veterinarian’s clinic recovering. 

“We visited him every day, and I got to tube feed him. The doctor let me help out whenever possible,” says Dr. Mamula-Crippen, who owns Veterinary Center of Parker. “I thought it was interesting to see the healing process.”

Sparky, who ended up living to be 17 years old, eventually went with Dr. Mamula-Crippen to vet school in Illinois and was the first in a long line of pets that have included cats, dogs, guinea pigs, lizards and ferrets, among other species.

Dr. Mamula-Crippen’s current list of fur babies includes Bucky, a 4-year-old Boston terrier who is very outgoing; and Hazel, a 6-year-old French bulldog who is shy but loving; and Tinee, a green iguana her 8-year-old daughter, Norah, won at last year’s Parker Days carnival games. Tinee is 18 inches long now, up from 6 inches. 

“She will be a permanent fixture at the clinic, as long as she does well, for the next 60 years. She can grow up to 6 feet,” Dr. Mamula-Crippen says. 

And there’s 12-year-old Chloe, a long-haired cat that was born in Dr. Mamula-Crippen’s dad's barn near Monument.

“I’ve been with her since the day she was born,” she says.

Dr. Mamula-Crippen found her calling all those years ago with her first cat's medical emergency and became a fixture at the vet clinic where Sparky was treated. Dr. Mamula-Crippen eventually worked there through high school and on summer breaks in college. It’s where her love of caring for animals started.

She says her daughter already wants to be a veterinarian when she grows up and has long helped out around the clinic.

“Her energy is soft and caring and kind, and the dogs feel that. It’s neat to see,” she says.

Meet Addie + Allison Shride

Parker businesswoman Allison Shride is busy, running the Mathnasium of Parker tutoring center, as well as owning two others in the south Denver area. 

But you’ll still find Allison walking her four dogs up to three times a day. Her 14-year-old corgi, Ella, is even the director of happiness at her Cherry Hills Mathnasium location.

Allison also has Milo the border collie, Roxy the Shibu Inu and Addie the mutt—Allison's favorite (but don't tell the others!)

Addie is by far her most challenging dog. As a rescue, Addie came with a lot of baggage—distrust of people, lack of confidence. Allison says three years of agility training has made a big difference.

“Because of that, she and I have a deeper bond and connection than I do with my other dogs,” she says. “This sounds weird, but I’ve had dogs all my life, and I’ve always had good relationships with them, but this dog—as challenging as she is—is the dog that I’ve always wanted, all my life.”

Growing up in Lakewood, Allison had hamsters, and throughout her life, she’s had lots of cats and dogs, plus four horses. Pets can teach kids—and all humans—about responsibility, unconditional love, acceptance and patience, Allison says, traits that seem to be in short supply in the world.

“People are so divided these days, and I feel that pets just don’t care. They don’t care what your dress is like, what your bank account is—they are so nonjudgmental. They accept you for who you are,” Allison says. “If we could learn that, gosh, what a place this world would be.”

The lessons animals have to offer motivate Allison to give all her pets a good life and treat them like members of the family. And family is important to Allison—her sister manages her Littleton Mathnasium location and her daughter, a Colorado School of Mines graduate, runs her Cherry Hills location. 

Ella, the 14-year-old corgi, used to go with Allison and her daughter to hospitals and other places with people needing a mental boost and stress relief. Allison recalls one time they went to a mental-health hospital and a patient who struggled with anger issues saw Ella and lit up.

“He got down on the floor and rolled around and giggled like a school kid with Ella. It was remarkable,” she says. “Some young people who were withdrawn and depressed, spending time with Ella definitely put a bright spot in their day.”

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