One-of-A-Kind Dog Bark Park is a Bark & Breakfast!
When I was a kid living in Ontario, the rite-of-passage for every family was loading the kids into the station wagon and heading up to Sudbury to see the “big nickel” – an iconic, over-sized piece of change that proudly proclaimed “nickel mining happens here” to everyone that visited the northern town. I guess it’s the same for kids that grew up in Chico, California (World’s Largest Yo-yo), Casey, Illinois (World’s Largest Knitting Needles), and Rose Hill, North Carolina (World’s Largest Frying Pan). When you’re small town America, displaying anything over-sized and of Guinness Record caliber could put you on the map and build an odd-ball sort of tourism base.
This childhood recollection of mine is probably why Dog Bark Park and its pair of the “World’s Biggest Beagles” intrigues me so. Its location isn’t one that made my bucket list (Cottonwood, Idaho, population 944, land of wheat, barley, and blue grass) and I’m not sure I have room in my yard for much chain-saw art, but let’s face it, anything that gains media coverage both nationally and internationally – HGTV, Ellen Show, London Times, Today Show, CNN to name just a few – has to make you sit up and beg for more, does it not?
Right off the bat, Dog Bark Park is a quaint Northern Idaho tourist destination for lovers of dogs, art and the great outdoors. Its run by a couple of mom and pop artists who specialize in chainsaw art and as testament to this talent, all who venture forth are welcomed by two of the couple’s most famous carved canines – 12 foot high Toby and Sweet Willy. Yes, the aforementioned “World’s Biggest Beagles”.
Seriously, Dennis Sullivan and Frances Conklin are a husband and wife team who began working at Dog Bark Park back in 1997. Dennis is a self-taught chainsaw artist who began carving over 30 years ago, Frances more than 20 years ago. Together, they produce the high demand folk-art carvings that now include over 60 different breeds of dogs in various poses as well as many custom designs based on photos provided by pet parent customer. Pricing is approximately $175 for a 16” floor-sized version down to $65 for an 8” book-shelf sized rendition.
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At Dog Bark Park visitors can come in and browse the gift shop, wander the grounds, stop by the artists’ studio and peruse the chainsaw carvings (typically of dogs, but also bear, moose, fish and cats) or even stay the night. Of course pooches who want to overnight are welcome as long as mom and dad are well behaved and rates for this well-situated inn (midway between Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks) are beyond reasonable at just $98 per night double – including breakfast that features the family’s secret recipe Prairie’s Best Fruited granola. Pooches are just $15 and extra guests just $10 per if they stay in the same room.
Accommodation needs to be booked in advance and is seasonal – April 1 through October 31 – but the art studio and gift shop is open year round, Monday through Sunday from 11 am to 4 pm.
Did I mention that there are no TVs, phones or cell phone connectivity in God’s country? It’s true. But when it’s just you, your pooch and a guy with a chain saw, what more do you need?
Mary Simpson is an animal-loving writer and communications professional. A soft touch for anything stray, she shares her century home with an eclectic collection of rescues that include orange tabby Chico, tuxedo Simon, and jet black Owen. She enjoys running, politics, exploring local wine regions and is an avid supporter of the “shop local” movement.
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