Winter 2016 Newsletter

Today our first big snow of winter has arrived giving Sweet Willy a blanket of white.

Cottonwood Idaho The big beagle hibernates until April 2017 when our lodging season re-opens. He housed a full calendar of guests all season long this year. Reservations for next season, our 15th, are coming in earlier than ever. If staying a night or two is in your plans for 2017 we suggest early reservations before Sweet Willy’s date book fills up. Our availability calendar is viewable from our home page;  just click on the top header words “Visit our Available Calendar.”

Dennis & I have been busy creating our chainsaw carved dog sculptures to fulfill holiday orders. Checking our list of available dog breeds may turn up a dog you’ve wished we made. Newer additions include Yorkie & Shiba Inu, for example. If there’s a breed you don’t see, feel free to drop us an inquiry email to art, Cottonwood Idaho

We keep an inventory of many small-size dog carvings in stock, making quick shipping an easy option for last minute orders. We’re happy to mail carvings directly to a gift recipient with a personalized card containing your message included at no extra cost. Just let us know details.

We can’t end this newsletter without telling you a bit about our personal lives. Many of you may remember Sprocket, our ambassador golden retriever. He turns eight in January & has become white around his face. Although he does enjoy taking longer naps, he always cheerily wakens to greet visitors with a tail wag & eager eyes.

There’s a new building at Dog Bark Park. After 19 years of commuting, we now live on campus. Dennis designed and built our house himself. The entire project was a tremendous amount of hard physical work taking nearly a year to complete. Since every structure at Dog Bark Park has a name, our home is called True North. We love the 1-minute walk to work!Our home at Dog Bark Park

We wish you a very pleasant holiday season and good New Year. We thank you all for visiting in person, on-line, via phone or snail mail.
We’d love to hear from you with your news, photos, or anecdotes about Dog Bark Park.

It’s Dog Prevention Week

The National Dog Bite Prevention Week for 2016 comes upon us starting the 15th of May, all the way up to the 21st of May.  We share this information from Michael of
But, why exactly is this a big deal that’s talked about EVERY YEAR, one may ask.

Well, for starters, did you know that more than 4,500,000 people are bitten each and every year in the U.S.A alone? This means that one person is bitten by a dog every 75 seconds. Now if that doesn’t deserve an awareness week each and every single year, I don’t know what does!

In this infographic, we’ve put together the most interesting dog-bite statistics, facts and events that the year of 2015 witnessed, all in order to raise awareness about how much of a serious problem this is.

So, enjoy the infographic, and feel free to post it on your site, share it on social media or spread it around however you want to, just remember to give proper credit back to this page! That’s all we ask.

Without further ado, let’s start!

P.S: If you’ve got any dog bite-related stories of your own, let’s talk about them in the comments section below.

Dog Bite Infographic NEW

LEAVE A REPLY Cancel reply

The Washington Post writes about Dog Bark Park



My beagle Darwin was no stranger to cross-country drives and adventures.

During her decade of life, she and I drove from East to West and back multiple

times. But one promise went unfulfilled. It was during her final days in 2011 that

we sat on the couch and I realized we’d never made it to the big beagle.

For years, friends had urged me to visit Dog Bark Park Inn, a whimsical beagleshaped

bed and breakfast. Given my adoration of beagles and appetite for road trips, the suggestion

was understandable. The only catch: Dog Bark Park is located nearly in the middle of

nowhere — in Cottonwood, Idaho, nestled between a couple of national forests in

the western part of the state.

Years passed, and I forgot about the giant beagle. But last year, when I began

planning a road trip to the Pacific Northwest with my former laboratory beagle

Hamilton, I realized our route would take us by Cottonwood. Having missed

the opportunity with Darwin and not knowing when I’d find myself in Idaho

again, I booked a room in the huge hound for early September.

The town of Cottonwood, population 900, is roughly equidistant from Yellowstone

and Glacier national parks, 41/2 hours from Boise. Right off the highway,

the tricolored piece of functional art known as Sweet Willy stands high above

honey-colored fields and looks out to the prairie.

Artists Frances Conklin and Dennis Sullivan built the 30-foot beagle in 2003.

Dennis is a chain-saw artist whose big break came two decades ago when QVC

sold his canine carvings for 18 months. In the first 45 seconds, he sold 1,500 beagles.

He’d imagined using his profits to buy an orange Corvette and a new Ford pickup,

but after looking at both, as he tells the story, he instead opted to marry Frances

and buy the land on which their inn now sits.

I’d scheduled my stay in the beagle for the end of my road trip. Earlier in my

journey, while visiting pals in McCall, Idaho, I’d become fast friends with a

woman named Heidi. I invited her and her 2- and 4-year-old girls to join

Hammy and me in the beagle.

We arrived on a weekday afternoon and registered in a small, kitschy gift

shop that doubles as a carving studio. While Frances processed our paperwork,

Dennis walked out of his shop and welcomed us. He and Frances were

dressed in clothes a retired couple might wear for cleaning the house. They smiled

easily and radiated warmth and kindness. The front door was propped open,

and a dry breeze entered. The smell of pine filled each breath.

Painted wooden dogs—beagles as well as dozens of other breeds and the occasional

moose — lined the shelves. I met the couple’s dog, Sprocket, and was

surprised he was a golden retriever, not a hound.

“Why beagles?” I asked, after Frances gave us our room key.

“The beagle is the most beautiful artistically,” Dennis said. “If I did a black

Lab, it would just be a black dog.”

Heidi, her girls, my own aesthetically pleasing dog and I walked across the

property to the beagle and ascended near the hind leg. Steps led us to a balcony in

the rib cage area, where we opened a door into what in many ways looked like

a typical mid-priced motel room. We found the usual amenities — microwave,

hair dryer, etc. — but we couldn’t forget for a moment that we were inside a dog.

As if we’d fallen into a toy chest, we all poked around the room, discovering

nooks filled with books, games and snacks. A wooden ladder led us up to the

beagle’s snout, er, loft, where the kids found stuffed animals and a beagle book

that opened up to the size of a card table.

On the shelves and in an old suitcase were dog playing cards, puzzles and

Lewis and Clark bingo. Dog-patterned curtains covered the windows, and

wooden canines decorated the headboard.

I read the welcome letter, ostensibly from Willy: “If you hear muffled thumps

against my walls it ismy ears lifting up in the wind as a signal to you I am awake

and on guard outside while you relax or sleep inside.” Dennis had told me that in

60-mile-an-hour winds, the ears — made from enough outdoor carpet to cover a

few rooms — whip ferociously. The beagle body was made from lumber and

wrapped in metal lath, a bendable mesh, over which stucco was applied.

For dinner, we walked to Rodonna’s CountryHaus, a meat-and-potatoes joint

that’s one of just a few restaurants in town. We ordered food to go and picnicked

underneath the beagle torso. Between bites of their burger, the girls ran

around the grounds and explored other oversize chain-sawart sculptures (coffeepot,

toaster oven, fire hydrant) while Hammy begged for tater tots.

In the beagle, Heidi made microwave popcorn for the girls, and we all sat on

the bed with books. I flipped through “Barkitecture,” a book of fantastic doghouses;

and the “Carnegie Mellon Anthology of Poetry.” Heidi read the girls

“The Puppy Who Needed a Friend,” a small paperback with a gloomy, floppy-eared

hound on its cover. Later, as the girls dozed in the loft, Heidi and I stayed

in the belly, talking about life and travel and love.

Early the next morning, I went for a run through a ghostly quiet town, past an

American Legion post, the Cottonwood Elevator Co. (think grain, not vertical

transport), a body shop and a restaurant advertising “basket food.”

Back at the inn, the fiery sun had risen, and we set up breakfast on the balcony:

cantaloupe, grapes, homemade granola, eggs and canned fruit juices. Handwritten

notes labeled local cucumbers, Idaho rhubarb raisin muffins, and cranberry

and Idaho pear coffeecake.

Long before we were ready, checkout time neared. We packed our cars and

greeted Dennis and Frances in the shop. The girls plopped down on the floor

with wooden dog puzzles, and Dennis invited me to see his studio, a jumbled

space with a wooden “Puppy Mill” sign hanging from the ceiling and unpainted

wooden dogs — and sawdust — covering every horizontal surface.

As is often the case with travelers and dreamers, the four of us talked easily, and

the conversation quickly turned to the couple’s history. When they met at an art

fair in 1990, each was married with children. Dennis asked Frances shortly

after whether she had any room in her heart for him. Thus began a five-year

courtship through snail mail, and the two eventually left their spouses and

married in 1996. Frances, an English major, dabbles in poetry. As we talked,

she kneeled on the floor to help the girls with their puzzles.

Dennis talked to Heidi and me about following your heart and knowing when

you’re on the right path. Frances talked about solitude and time to let ideas flow,

as she experienced when she worked as a fire watch in Montana. Both used “love”

and “magic” repeatedly to describe their journey — and that of the Dog Bark Park.

In all my travels, people surprise me in wonderful ways, but perhaps I was most

surprised here. I drank up the couple’s words like those of a muse.When I caught

Heidi’s eye, we shared a knowing look.

Remembering the 450-mile drive ahead of me that day, I wrapped up our

conversation. Frances gently pressed a beagle stamp onto the back of the girls’

hands. I asked for my own stamp and then blew the ink dry. We all hugged


“Travel well,” Dennis said. “And live well.”

He and Frances stood in the door, waving. As Heidi and I hugged, tears

unexpectedly filled my eyes. Driving away, I looked at the big beagle in my

rearview mirror and the beagle stamp on my hand. Hammy slept in the back of the

car, oblivious to the thoughts swirling through my head.

Just outside town, I stopped for gas and read Heidi’s text. “I’m kind of in

shock and awe right now,” she wrote. “Thank you for sharing this time with


I texted back: “Me 2. That was so much bigger than a big beagle.” I pulled out of

the gas station and followed S-shaped roads along the Clearwater River, in

silence, under cornflower-colored skies.


Kaplan is a freelance writer in Washington. Her website is

We’ve got Wi-Fi!

For sure this would be old news for most nowadays, wouldn’t it?!

For the 14 years Dog Bark Park Inn B&B has existed our guests have enjoyed the absence of electronics that can distract from a truly relaxing stay.  And today’s visitors will still not find a television, phone or other media devices inside the big dog.  However, Wi-Fi connectivity is now available.  We simply felt it was time to modernize just this little bit.  Thought we’d share this tiny, but perhaps, important news.    (May 2016)


Queen bed view

Keeping Waste out of our Shipping Department

One large back corner of our studio contains a disorderly collection of cardboard boxes. Some are empty shipping cartons we’ve picked up when shopping the local grocery stores.  We’ll use the boxes for shipping our dog carvings. Other boxes, along with an odd medley of large plastic bags, are filled with Styrofoam peanuts, bubble wrap, air sacs, packing paper & such donated to us from friends & neighbors who don’t like the idea of putting re-usable or, for our area, non-recyclable materials into the local waste stream any more than we do.  We try to use it all.  Held in our storage area long enough, eventually all will be sent on to hopefully be recycled again at the receiving end.

It’s feast or famine it seems for matching the quantity of materials to our need for them.  However, when a oversupply arrives we always manage to find room for the excess somewhere.  Often our access passageway to the shipping corner is reduced to less than a body width, yet the inconvenience is negligible compared to the sense of doing our part to do right when it comes to reducing waste.

Today, when packing an order of Great Pyrenees & Bernese Mountain Dog carvings instead of rolling off new paper to wrap the dogs in, I delved into a 5 ft tall clear plastic bag to retrieve thin lengths of foam sheets as wrap.   Double satisfaction arrived when a used cardboard box of the right dimensions was found in the jumbled mess of potential shipping cartons.  By a little bit we’ve reduced the back corner clutter, saved a little bit of green & saved someone’s waste from going to the landfill.  Nice.


Where else does our shipping conserve resources?  Well, all our orders are printed on the back side of letters, statements, & any other old office paper.  Unfortunately, going paperless is not yet an option for our business at this point of time.  So we settle for re-purposing whatever suitable paper comes into our household & business.

Additionally, almost all of our correspondence with customers & potential customers is conducted online further saving the use of paper for mailing invoices, statements, etc.  Receiving checks in the mail is all but a thing of the past, with most payments handled electronically in one fashion or other.

Back to boxes.  If we don’t happen to have a box of the right dimension for a particular shipment, we’ve become rather proficient at re-making a box into the configuration we need.  It has given us much appreciation for the art of carton design, of which there are endless methods of constructing a box.  Call us creative or call us cheap; it’s your call.  We’re glad to re-purpose a box is all!






Winter Activities at Dog Bark Park, a blog by Frances Conklin

Dennis & I are often asked what occupies our time at Dog Bark Park during the winter when our bed & breakfast inn is closed from November through March.

Hibernating beagles

Hibernating beagles

While the big dog is in hibernation & traffic is light out on the highway during winter, as much as we might wish to join the big dog for a long sleep, we instead focus on activities that can only be accomplished during this slower season.

During November, December & into January we’re kept busy in the carving studio making dog sculptures ordered as special holiday gifts. By the end of the holidays we’re typically depleted of inventory for our gift shop.

Dennis, Frances and Sprocket

In the studio, photo by David C.

After a short break in January, we take up the saws & paintbrushes again to begin rebuilding inventory of dog carvings in preparation for the busy summer season ahead.

Creating a dog carving

Creating a dog carving

Last week we increased our supply of carvings from 24 pieces on the shelves in our gift shop to 64 pieces completed & ready for sale.

Dog carvings on shelves

Dog carvings on shelves

We didn’t make such rapid progress this week preparing & packing some wholesale orders for shipping & doing other tasks in and away from the studio instead.
However, by the time April arrives we should have nearly 200 pieces  stocked for shipping to customers or selling directly from the shelves.

After the holidays, while our bodies continue resting from the long days of activity during the previous months, we  kick our mental energies into high gear creating new ideas for our art, business marketing & such. This is when we develop new postcard & other product designs, clean up the shop & store, order in new supplies for the inn, establish goals & objectives for the new year and the like.

We also allow ourselves more flexible work hours at the studio; sometimes not opening when the weather is too inclement.

Winter at Dog Bark Park, photo by Wild Web West

Winter at Dog Bark Park, photo by Wild Web West

We enjoy a bit more time at home reading, watching television & spending creative time in the kitchen & on the computer; all leisure luxuries mostly unavailable to us during our vibrant high season.

By mid-March we eagerly await the return of  spring’s beauty &  the opportunity to welcome visitors & guests to our wonderful part of Idaho.

How we do it – create a German Shepherd dog carving that is

What seems uninteresting & unremarkable to artists is often not the case for non-artists.  Many times artists’ fans & collectors are fascinated by the seemingly mysterious processes involved in the making of art.

This blog will describe some of the processes we use in our studio at Dog Bark Park to create a chainsaw-carved dog carving, specifically a German Shepherd Dog.     

German Shepherd Art

German Shepherd dog carvings

Using a gas Stihl chainsaw we cut a slab of wood from a log stored outdoors in our log  yard.  Imagine the large log being rather like a loaf of bread that is sliced into appropriate thicknesses for the various uses intended for the bread; perhaps thicker for french toast & thinner for sandwiches, for example.  Similarly, we cut the log slice to the appropriate thickness for the size of the piece planned.

chainsaw carving, chainsaw art, dog art

Cutting log into slabs

We bring the freshly cut slab into our studio where the rest of the chainsaw work is done using an electric Stihl saw.  We begin by drawing an outline of the desired dog on the slab, being mindful to “read” the wood to avoid placing a knot or other undesirable characteristic in a location that might compromise the final outcome of the carving.  A large knot  on the nose of the dog, for instance,  is detrimental to the structural & cosmetic integrity of the piece.

Dennis then begins cutting away in large chunks any wood outside the German Shepherd shape penciled on the wood.  Eventually the dog begins to emerge into a 3-dimensional piece as the carving process continues as he reduces the thickness of the nose, makes the cuts to fashion the ears, tail, feet and so forth.  The final stages include rounding all the squared edges to give a finished more natural look to the dog.  The scrap wood scattered on the floor around the wood carving platform after the piece is finished is a large volume of wood than what is in the finished piece.  All this scrap is stored becoming our fuel for heating the studio.

Dog art, chainsaw carvings, German Shepherd dog

Carving a German Shepherd

After being carved the dog is set aside, either indoors near the wood stove in winter or outdoors when sunny weather prevails,  for a few days or couple of weeks to dry before prepping the carving for painting.  How long a piece takes to cure depends on moisture levels in the wood, the ambient air humidity & such factors. 

When cured, the dog is given eye & nostril cuttings using a Dremel tool.  The dog is brushed to remove any thick globs of sawdust and then it is lightly burned with a propane torch to burn off any remaining loose material as well as any residual chainsaw oil.  The burning also provides a final cure & adds color to the pine wood.

The German Shepherd carving is then taken outdoors to a painting table to spray paint on the black saddle markings.  At least two coats are applied, with drying time of a few hours or couple of days between coats.  Next the dog is moved to our studio paint table where its eyes and nostrils are hand-painted black.  Final finishing includes affixing a brass license tag  to the dog’s upper chest, tying a red fabric neckerchief around its neck & attaching hang tag.

At most times of the year our carvings are made to order, meaning they will be packaged for pick-up or mailing  to customers upon their completion.  This process is often called on-demand manufacturing.  In any case, what it means for us is that typically our carvings sell faster than we can replace inventory in our shop store.   We do try to maintain an inventory of at least 50 small-size carvings of various breeds at any one time to be able to fulfill orders for them quickly.

Somehow this large-size German Shepherd

Dog Art, Chainsaw dog art, German Shepherd art

German Shepherd Dog carving ready to paint

has not been spoken for.  We have left it “naked” for the time being in the event someone is interested to have a white shepherd, all black one, or one with markings different from the typical black saddle & muzzle.  If ordered this week we could still complete paint and ship the Shepherd to arrive before Dec 25th.       

Dog art, German Shepherd Dogs, Chainsaw art, gifts for dog lovers

German Shepherd large ready for paint, small ready for adoption

Fun Source for planning Family Travel –

This award-winning website,, is a great resource for family travel planning.  In existence for 16 or so years, the fun website is chockfull of ideas for places to go & places to stay for families.

From the homepage map click on the region or state and then select more options from there depending on the ages & interests of your family.  Another way to get info is to enter a town or zipcode in the search box.

For example, here’s the entry for Dog Bark Park.  It might be interesting to see what comes up when entering the zip for your town.  There just might be an activity or nearby place that would be perfect for your family’s next outing.

Do you Zip Line? Idaho has 7

When asked what there is to do in Idaho besides come stay in the big dog for those expressing interest in adventure we mention Idaho’s spectacular zip lines.  Four are located within a few hours drive of Dog Bark Park.  Might be fun to plan an entire Idaho vacation around visiting each line. 

Seven Zip Lines Across Idaho

Zip Idaho provides a unique eco-adventure that combines Idaho’s longest zip lines with tree based canopy-tour style zip lines. The course offers seven lines, ranging from 175 to 1700 feet in length. Zip Idaho is based in Horseshoe Bend, just a half hour north of Boise and a nature lovers dream. Whitewater rafting, swimming, mountain biking, fishing, and scenic train rides are just a few activities to enjoy in the area.


Tamarack Canopy Zip Line Tours, located in the mountains overlooking Donelly, Idahopromises a thrilling, action packed mountain tour experience. Eight zip lines range in length from 250-800 feet, whisking zippers above 4,425 feet of rugged, scenic terrain with a 1,700 change in elevation. The tour soars over creeks, canyons, and forest and experienced guides narrate the journey sharing information about plants and animals native to the Payette River Mountains and the history of this area

 Heise Hot Springs Zip Line, in Ririe in Southeast Idaho, consists of seven zip lines covering almost a mile of terrain. The experienced tour guides do all the work so riders can experience the adrenaline pumping, jaw dropping thrill ride! During the two hour tour adventure riders learn the history of Heise Hot Springs while enjoying the beautiful mountains and the valley and river below. More activities are available at Heise, including swimming, golf and fishing. 

Schweitzer Mountain Zip Line is just one of the many activities available at the Schweitzer Mountain Ski Resort near Sandpoint in northern Idaho. Stretching over 700′, the zip line begins at the resort village and runs towards Lake Pend Oreille, offering spectacular mountain and lake views. A dual zip line allows two riders to experience the fun side-by-side.

Lava Zip Line Adventures is located near Lava Hot Springs in eastern Idaho. The zip line tour covers several thousand feet, travelling through a scenic canyon and can be enjoyed winter or summer.

Silver Streak Zipline Tours, located in Wallace in northern Idaho, is expected to open in May, 2012. Reservations may be made by calling 208-512-3965.

Magic Valley Flight Simulation Zip Line – Twin Falls: Coming summer of 2012

Sweet Willy is 10 years old – Specials offered

 This year marks the 10th year that guests have been arriving to stay inside Sweet Willy’s giant dog body. 

Sweet Willy the big dog inn for humans

Over his ten years, he has gained much notoriety and blazed trails for Dog Bark Park around the world.  We think he has easily earned a Perfect 10 for good work!
To celebrate, Dog Bark Park is offereing 10th anniversary specials throughout the year.   Look for announcements of the specials here & on our social media channels.
Our 1st special is all about another breed of dog – labrador retrievers!
Order 2 small-size labrador carvings from our online gallery and receive a $10 rebate.  This offer is valid until March 10, 2012.

Labrador Retriever - Black, Yellow, Chocolate, shown sitting pose

 Labs are available in sitting or standing poses.  Each comes with a brass license tag located underneath the red neckerchief & an informational hangtag. 
To receive the $10 rebate, both dogs need to be ordered at the same time & shipped to the same address. 
The $10 rebate will be issued as a refund at the same time we email acknowledgement of the order.

Labrador Retriever - Sitting, Standing

     Please join us in observing Sweet Willy’s 10th birthday.  If labradors aren’t the breed of choice for you or yours, do check back from time to time for other surprise specials.
    Sweet Willy thanks everyone for being a part of his first 10 years.  “Keep on barkin’!” is this beagle’s message when asked about his special birthday!