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You could walk the planet five times over just looking for a pair of comfortable shoes. You could, but you don't have to: Dardano's, a family-run business that's been cobbling around town for sixty years, now hawks some of the comfiest footwear around -- such as Birkenstock, ECCO and Josef Seibel -- out in cyberspace. The site also gives sound orthopedic advice about foot ailments, as well as the skinny on how to care for your favorite shoes. So log on -- and take a load off your feet.

Where can you find a spot nanny who can also run errands, house-sit, walk dogs and curry the pony, all in one fell swoop? 2nd String Moms, a force of 25 started by a pair of recent DU graduates, are exactly what they say they are. They do it all -- or at least most of it: The only thing they won't do is your windows. But you can always ask.
We all need something to write on; some of us like it to be on something pretty, and we're not talking floral-patterned napkins here. But paper is one of those things gift-buyers can overlook, so the next time you're actually asked what you'd like for a present, you'll be ready: Fill out a wish card at Paper Pleasures, which stocks an abundance of beautiful paper, fine fountain pens, sealing waxes, handmade photo albums, rubber stamps of Chinese characters and other stationery items, and your benefactor will know exactly what you like and in what color. Now, don't forget to write a thank you note.
Choosing a wedding photographer is probably the most important decision a bride and groom will make. Even if the food is terrible or old Aunt Betty slips and falls into the cake, nothing's a bigger disaster than bad pictures --after all, long after old Aunt Betty's gone, you'll still be looking at your wedding photos. Moses Street knows this. Not only is he masterful with a camera -- he's been photographing weddings for more than 25 years -- but he teaches his subjects how to look good in pictures. Prior to the big event, he takes couples on a pre-wedding shoot in Rocky Mountain National Park to practice (he's based in Estes Park, but he does weddings all over the state). He captures the bride and groom from all angles on a digital camera and then lets them review the results to determine their best side and their worst smile. He also asks couples to bring some of their own photographs so he knows what they like and don't like. His specialties are artistic portraits and fun shots, although he'll do traditional lineups, too.

The wedding package starts at $3,200, which includes the engagement shoot (you pay extra for the photos themselves). It's a little steep, but not bad when you consider how much time he spends with a couple. And his theories on photography (which can take hours to explain) and just about anything else under the sun are thrown in for free. Don't forget to ask him who he thinks killed JFK.

When you want to remember your kids as they were, do you really need ruffles and bubble pants, a goofy smile and Taz spinning around in the background? We didn't think so. Krista's black-and-white portraits are simple and real without the silly props, and they reflect a child's true spirit using natural poses and fun situations. She'll set up in your living room while your kids run around barefoot and free, and then she just lets the shutter go. The end product is both beautiful and cute. It'll turn your little devils into angels.

Photographs and Memories proffers all the services related to photo restoration: oil tinting, damage repair, archival enlargements, retouching and so on. But here's their pièce de résistance: They'll make a montage for you out of personal items and photos and then photograph the whole thing in black and white or oil-tinted hues to create a keepsake or memorial ready to stand the test of time. The possibilities are endless, but the results are the same: You're left with a fitting tribute to any loved one that can be as funny, heartwarming or sentimental as you like.

It's tough to leave Rover behind for a fun-filled vacation when he's staring at you through the window with those sad, puppy-dog eyes. Avoid the guilt by leaving him at Shylo Country Club for Dogs. Your doggie won't even miss you; he'll be too busy frolicking with other dogs in one of seven outdoor play yards (large dogs on one side, small ones on the other). When it's hot, misters spray water on the dogs to keep them cool and refreshed, and at night, they'll come inside to a spotless and well-insulated group bedroom.

Owners Steve Fisher and Bruce Clark bought their forty-acre property sixteen years ago so that they could raise Afghan hounds, but friends kept asking them to care for their pets when they went out of town. So ten years ago, Steve and Bruce decided to make a business out of it. Shylo charges between $11 and $14 a day to board dogs (a limited number of cats can stay there too, for $8 a day), and another $15 to have someone pick up and drop off your pooch if you don't want to drive out to Watkins. Shylo, which can board 45 dogs at a time, also offers a day camp for dogs; every weekday morning, employees pick up dogs at Washington, Cheesman and City parks, and drop them off in the same spot in the evening when their owners get off work.

And every August, satisfied customers show up for the poolside doggie fashion show, a benefit for the Dumb Friends League that any dog owner can attend for $10. Hang out and laugh while your dog takes a dip in the beautiful swimming pool in back of the owners' house.

First haircuts are often traumatic, with heads turning this way and that, tears flying and scissors snipping frantically in uneven, ragged lines. The folks at Tortoise and the Hare know this well, and they've figured out how to avoid exacerbating the situation. Aside from experience and patience, it helps to have a TV and a little cart to sit in (here, there's a little Jeep, a boat and a horse) and warm-up toys -- a little kitchen set, rocking zebra or a car with a horn -- to play with while waiting. Plus, it only costs $10, and they'll cut any kid's hair, from babies on up, in a guaranteed straight line.
Talk about false idols. This six-foot cement statue of a calico cat playing with a giant ball of pink yarn outside the Cat Hospital of Wheat Ridge will remind cat owners just who's the boss. Then again, from the expression on this cat's face, she looks like she just got her shots. Dr. Douglas Ikeler, who owns five cat hospitals in the metro area, "likes to make little landmarks to stop traffic," says a worker at the Cat Hospital of Denver, which has a five-foot walking cat out front made of rebar and covered with ivy. The other cat hospitals -- Southeast, Northglenn and Paramount West -- all have giant neon-pink Cheshire cats crouched on top of freestanding signs in out front. They'll get your attention, and why not? After all, cats are people, too.
It's good to have a friend, but when that friend has a wet nose and a waggy tail, well, that's the ultimate in unconditional love. Plenty of studies have shown that pet visitation programs work: When pets visit seniors, convalescents or kids in hospitals, everyone seems to perk up. The nonprofit/volunteer Alliance of Best Friends screens and trains people and their pets before sending them out to spread fur and joy; all it gets in return are enough smiles to light up the entire city for a month.

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