Members of the flock and vampire hunters alike will delight in selecting a cruciform to suit their individual taste, budget and wall space from among the treasure trove of icons for sale in this warehouse-sized religious-supplies store in the heart of the historic Baker district. Though Gerken's boasts fine selections of communion-wafer plates and ceramic statues of the Archangel Michael slaying various demons, it's the hundreds of crucifixes hanging on the walls that will make the shopper feel truly blessed. The artifacts range in price from $7.95 (a tiny plastic Christ on a six-inch cross) to $3,000 (a four-foot bronze Christ on a six-foot oak cross) and come in all models: head up or down; crown of thorns or bare coiffure; full robe or loincloth. At Gerken's, the cross marks the spot.


Incredibly, the folks who create Thangkas -- generally Buddhist monks who live with their heads in the clouds at the top of the world -- don't consider them works of art. Rather, each intricately complex banner, colorfully depicting mandalas, Buddhas or bodhisattvas, is intended as a kind of spiritual lesson, prayer or charm for their Himalayan constituents. But damn if they aren't beautiful to look at, too. Melissa and Dinesh Shakya, the young owners of Nepali Bazaar, hand-pick theirs from the streets of Kathmandu, and their taste and care are evident in the selections they offer. And did we mention the reasonable prices? That excellent selling point spreads to the rest of the not-to-miss exotic merchandise, which includes brass Buddhas, bright ceremonial masks, gorgeous pressed-wool handbags, raw-silk wrap skirts with an elegant drape, fringed hand-knit cardigans and an unexpected trove of things for children, such as carved-wood rocking horses, tiny embroidered overalls, ethnic dolls and shiny brocade jackets. Enough to make you say Namaste!


For the past dozen years, the Colorado Jewish Social Network has been playing matchmaker for Denver singles looking for a soulmate. Members of the network, who pay annual dues of $90, can peruse binders full of questionnaires and pictures of other Jewish singles in search of Mr. or Ms. Right. Under the direction of Roslyn Rudnick, CJSN brings the couples together in a non-threatening way; the rest is up to them. The network also sponsors social events and workshops throughout the year. Hey, it couldn't hurt.


People do it, so why shouldn't horses? That was the question on Dr. Gayle Trotter's mind after the equine surgeon at CSU's Veterinary Teaching Hospital observed firsthand the benefits of acupuncture treatment for his own lower-back pain. Trotter went the extra mile to learn more about the practice of alternative therapies; as a result, CSU is now one of the few veterinary hospitals in the nation offering integrated medical programs for hurtin' horses that combine such treatment components as exercise, massage and acupuncture. Giddyap!


"Lying at our feet, curled up at the foot of our beds, are beings capable of teaching us everything we are seeking. We have only to learn how to listen," writes Boulderite Kate Solisti-Mattelon in her book Conversations With Dog. Solisti-Mattelon, who has written or co-written several other books, including Conversations With Cat, is an animal communicator who claims to use telepathy to find out what our domesticated companions are thinking. Solisti-Mattelon says she was born with the gift of animal communication; it was not something she tried to acquire. But it is for the rest of us, who may not be as expert in the "generous language" of dogs or the "brutally honest" language of cats, that Solisti-Mattelon writes her books.


When you leave town, it's only fair that your cat get a little vacation, too. And since you want to be sure your four-legged friend is well cared for, the best place to take him or her is to the Cat Cradle Cattery, a little house tucked away in a wooded area off busy Kipling. A delightful couple who are crazy about cats own the kennel. Two of their own felines wander the place freely, greeting the new arrivals. Rather than cramped cages, all cats are boarded in spacious wooden kennels built by the owner; three levels give the cats ample room to move around. And once a day, the cats are taken out for exercise. The owners provide all food and keep note of which kind your cat prefers. The only thing you'll have to worry about is getting your cat to go home with you when you return. Purrfect.
Coloradans love their dogs and like to take them everywhere. Robyn Peters, publisher of Doggone (The Newsletter About Fun Places to Go and Cool Things to Do With Your Dog), understands this. Peters, who bases her business out of Boulder, personally checks out many of the dog-friendly places across the U.S., Canada, Europe and the Caribbean with the help of her cocker spaniel, Jenny. And if the newsletters haven't covered an area in this country that a customer wants to travel to, Peters will research states on an individual basis. So get your dog gone: Annual subscriptions to the bi-monthly are $25.


Angela Gazzara started her Canine Cab business last August because her busy schedule was often in conflict with her dog's needs: visits to the vet, grooming appointments and, of course, doggie daycare. While her goal was a dog-transportation service for busy pet owners, Gazzara also realized there were many disabled and non-driving pet owners who could benefit from it. An initial visit with pets and and an interview with their owners is required, and because of allergies, Gazzara ferries only dogs. Her other drivers, though, can tote your non-canine friends.


Best Place to Get in Touch With Your Dog's Feelings

A Pet's Paradise

What's Fido thinking, anyway? If you have the slightest interest in figuring that out, A Pet's Paradise offers periodic psychic reading sessions for pets with expert Pattie Koop, who also uses her powers to locate lost pets at no charge. In addition, the new-age pet supply, which carries a large selection of holistic pet foods, supplements and Flower Essences, as well as toys, beds, collars and treats, offers workshops on Tellington Touch -- a technique said to be related to horse whispering that's guaranteed to improve your pet's general health and well-being -- with certified practitioner Rita Anderson.


Dog may be man's best friend, but not necessarily yours. If you have vistors bringing along their four-legged companions, put them up at the Loews Denver Hotel. Like the city of Denver, Loews touts itself as "pet friendly" -- and then some. The hotel offers pet room service, with vet-approved food (vegetarian entrees are available for picky pets); special bedding to ensure the animal gets a good night's sleep; a personalized note from hotel management welcoming the critter and listing local vets, groomers and pet stores; pet-walking and -sitting services; and, of course, treats and toys. Loews doesn't discriminate, either: Along with the usual dogs and cats, past guests have included lizards and monkeys.


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