Snakes & Snails & Puppy Dog Tails

Anthony loved critters of all shapes and sizes. In addition to cuddly dogs and cats, Anthony loved frogs, toads, lady bugs, turtles, lizards, and especially snakes. Starting around the age of 4 or 5, if you asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up, he would tell you "A herpetologist! A snake scientist!"

I was proud of his vocabulary and career aspirations but had secretly hoped he would grow out of wanting a life spent studying creepy crawly things that could bite him.

From 1996 to 1999, we lived on an acreage out in the country. It was surrounded by farmland and bordered by a tumbledown grove of trees that was perfect for exploring and finding all kinds of critters.

One warm summer afternoon when Anthony was little, I was putting laundry away. I went into the boys' bedroom and opened Anthony's sock drawer to put away his socks. Curled up in the middle of the drawer was a striped black garter snake. I dropped everything & screamed. I ran outside to find Rian and the boys: "There's a SNAKE in Anthony's drawer! Did it get in the house through a vent? Did it get in through the crawlspace! How did it get IN there??"

Anthony said simply: "I wanted to keep him," as if that was the most logical thing in the world.