As much a museum as an antique shop, Packrat Antiques is overflowing with the weird, the odd, the curious and the bizarre. Some of the items for sale, such as vintage Western movie posters, are fairly typical, but they represent only a tiny portion of the store's willfully eccentric collection. Scientific and medical instruments from eras gone by are a specialty: There are enough twisted gizmos, gadgets and doohickeys on hand to provide props for the next five David Cronenberg movies. As a bonus, Packrat features decorative items -- such as a human skull and imitation eyes to put in it -- sure to provoke conversation, if not terror. Here's looking at you, kid.


Ever wish you'd kept all those dorky iron-on T-shirts you wore as a kid? If so, get a load of Sugar. Nestled among the vintage shops on Broadway, the year-and-a-half-old boutique has a huge selection of retro-'70s and '80s iron-on transfers -- as well as custom lettering -- that can be applied to the shirt of your choice in minutes. Fancy unicorns? Atari? Joan Jett? They've got it. Sugar also carries a modest but unique array of men's and women's retro attire, jewelry and accessories. Sweet!
In the mood to beat something with a stick? Dulcería El Pachangón has just the thing. The tiny boutique carries a colorful inventory of ready-made piatas, from Sesame Street and Simpsons characters to star shapes and animals. If you'd prefer something a tad more personal, bring in a photo of your favorite cartoon character -- or, say, your boss or significant other -- and ten days later, you'll have a papier-mché model of it, ready for stringing up and pummeling. Dulcería Pachangón also stocks a truckload of treats for birthday parties, weddings and quinceaeras. The sweets range from traditional hard candies to Mexican confections like cucumber and chile lollipops and rose chews. Scoop it up by the handful or the pound and get ready to stuff.
Composition
We use paper all the time -- to write boring memos and long grocery lists, to cover things, even to blow our noses. Composition takes paper to another level. We don't mean flimsy sheets jammed into the copy machine, but thick, grainy stationery that's perfect for writing eloquent love letters. Tucked into the corner of LoDo's Annex at the Steelbridge Lofts, Composition also carries funky journals for recording private thoughts, leather photo albums to guard precious memories, and unique greeting cards to convey the deepest of sentiments. Owner Jennifer Roberts understands that paper and design can inspire, so the next time you have something important to proclaim, let Composition help you say it.
Aspiring bards, novelists, journalists, essayists, students and screenwriters come to the Lighthouse Writers Workshop for help getting words on paper -- and maybe even into print. Taught by local pros of the pen, the classes are small, intensive and inexpensive, which means that even those on a poet's budget can afford to delve more deeply into their art. The schedule varies by season, but certain themes pop up in all of the courses offered: Lighthouse instructors emphasize storytelling, revision and breaking the blocks that inhibit creative expression. Classes are open to students of all skill levels, from novice scribes to graduate students and published authors. Even the most accomplished writer needs an editor. Sometimes they also need a teacher.
Barbara Stone's polar bears inhabit that peculiar juncture where wildlife art meets whimsy, just sidestepping kitsch. Her watercolors have surfaced in children's books, on kimonos and calendars, at the Smithsonian, and in a TV special dealing with the artist's pilgrimages to the Arctic to observe her subjects. You can find them at her gallery in Longmont, in an old church on Main Street.
Suzie's Tartar Liquid is a painless solution to that rich, ripe dog breath emanating from your pup. A tablespoon of Suzie's odorless, tasteless formula in your pet's drinking water leads to cleaner teeth (and fresher breath) within a matter of weeks. Instead of swearing at their foul-panting pooches, sensitive pet owners swear by Suzie's homegrown concoction.
The Maxfund Animal Center has long been known for finding abandoned critters good homes. Now it's opened a low-cost spay and neuter clinic to help control the number of animals coming through the shelter's door. Unlike other facilities, Maxfund will do the surgeries -- ranging from $30 to $40 -- for anyone in the community, regardless of income level. Shots and other basic veterinary services can also be had for a song.

Best Way to Get Around the Staff at the Pound

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Lost Fluffy or Fifi? Don't expect the staff at the Denver Municipal Animal Shelter to help. Unlike the rest of the local shelters, DMAS takes no lost reports and makes no calls if a cat matching your description comes in. With limited resources, the best staffers can do is suggest you come check every day and send you off with a flier listing other centers to call. But for those with a tight schedule, dogtown.tv gets the shelter's daily list of what's been picked up and posts it online so you can see if it's your beagle that came in or just someone else's boxer. Remember, check regularly and check often: DMAS keeps animals for only five days before putting them up for adoption or euthanizing them.
A sick pet can't tell you where it hurts; sometimes it's hard to know whether kitty is entering her ninth life or just suffering from hairballs. The doctors at Veterinary Referral Center of Colorado use pure science to clear up such mysteries of the animal world. At the massive Englewood facility, pets receive better health care than most humans, with specialists in veterinary cancer, heart disease and rehabilitation on call 24 hours a day. A surgical and research hospital, VRCC takes an aggressive stance against disease, using the latest treatments and non-traditional methods like acupuncture; there's even a staff dermatologist. Services aren't cheap, but the center won't bankrupt you with unexpected charges. It's about time modern medicine went to the dogs.

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