Parker's Colorado Horse Park has a growing reputation among equestrian circles as a competition site; it also has big plans for a horse museum, an equidome and a wildlife refuge. But savvy horse owners know it as a premier boarding facility, with more than a hundred spacious, heated stalls -- each with its windows and bedding cleaned daily. A scenic location, plenty of trails, a cross-country course. Mr. Ed never had it so good.


Tens of thousands of animals are euthanized in Denver every year, simply because nobody wants them. The Animal Rescue and Adoption Society does what it can to save as many cats as possible from that fate. The 23-year-old no-kill shelter operates on less than a shoestring budget and without the fanfare of some of the city's larger shelters, but it's enjoying quiet, steady success. The facility isn't much to look at, and ARAS is always in desperate need of food and supplies. However, the money they do receive (all private donations, no government funding) goes to giving their feline friends the royal treatment with free-roaming cat rooms and a safe, caged area outside where kitties can play or sit and bask in the sun. The Animal Rescue and Adoption Society is the cat's meow.

Bird is the word at the Birdbrain, a retail store and community-outreach resource for the birding community. Run by the Gabriel Foundation Education Center, the Birdbrain offers seminars on parrot wellness and behavior that bring together parrot enthusiasts, bird specialists and veterinarians. The 'brain center stocks plenty of toys to keep Polly happy, including games designed to stimulate cognitive functions and hardware such as swings and cages. As pets go, parrots are high-maintenance, but the Birdbrain makes it a snap to care for our feathered friends.


Recycled Racers seeks good homes for retired greyhounds -- pooches whose brief careers chasing a mechanical rabbit gave them little chance to show off the breed's gregarious, gentle and often-clownish nature. Located near the dog track, Recycled Racers allows adopters to meet and greet retirees, who are in the two- to five-year-old range, right in the kennels, guided by knowledgeable volunteers. The speedsters are already spayed or neutered, vaccinated -- and ready to assume their new jobs as 45-mile-per-hour couch potatoes.
All week long, the poodles and Pomeranians, Rottweilers and retrievers in City Bark's care frolic in the facility's 12,000-square-foot backyard obstacle course and pool. But on Sundays, when City Bark is closed, owner Nicole Delmoro invites the rest of the city's pooches to come for a swim at the doggie daycare. It's just $5 per dog -- on the honor system -- and there are plenty of lawn chairs for owners to loll on while Fido and Fifi have their day in the sun.


While artist Jen Griggs can paint a realistic portrait of your pooch, her whimsical "ScoutDog Style," which gives new life to the oft-maligned pet portrait, is even more fun. Griggs starts your custom painting by choosing from her "Dog-matic Table of ScoutDog & Her Friends" -- featuring 86 breeds -- and then personalizes the basic caricature with your furry friend's markings or favorite toy. The result it 100 percent mantel-worthy. If you're not quite ready for that level of devotion, Griggs offers a host of other products, from T-shirts to hand-drawn holiday cards.

Best Place to Learn to Talk to the Animals

The Whole Cat

Are you still feeding your feline friend cheap, nasty grocery-store cat food? Shame, shame! Make amends and head over to Sue Green's charming shop, the Whole Cat, which she stocks with high-quality healthy cat (and dog) food, holistic medicines, books, toys, collars, beds, tchotchkes and locally made kitty condos and jungle gyms. Green and her staff -- assisted by the official store cats, Petunia and Blake -- also host workshops and classes that are guaranteed to bring out your inner Dr. Dolittle.


The North American Rock Garden Society Alpine Plant Sale is the Botanic Gardens' undiscovered treasure. While hordes descend upon the gardens during the annual spring sale in May, the atmosphere is much calmer and more congenial during the Alpine Plant Sale just one month earlier, when gardeners come in search of unusual, hardy plants, such as spreading groundcovers, candytufts, succulents, skullcaps and mallows. Though society members get first pick, there are still plenty of hard-to-find species available when the doors open to the public. Can you dig it?


Add yardwork to the adage about death and taxes. But if you have to do it, you might as well do it big. And big is Paulino Gardens' middle name. From anemones to zinnias, cacti to bonsai, these trees, shrubs, plants and flowers comprise more than twenty acres. Plus, the staff knows their Best Boys from their Beefeaters, and they can give you cures for mugwort and pigweed and tips on getting rid of that nasty case of silverfish.

When bungalow-lovers Ed and Kate Sultan started to furnish their cozy circa-1919 home, they struggled trying to find the right Arts and Crafts-era decor. So they opened their own store, Modern Bungalow, featuring the Mission-style designs of artisans around the country. The homey place glows with rich woods and textiles, angular stained-glass lampshades and elegant pottery, all of which quietly defy the Victorian frills that preceded them in fashion. Pull up a Stickley chair and stay a while.

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