Connecting with Art – In Bed with Art

In Bed with Art by Katharina Kneib

In Bed with Art, published by Verlag-Hellblau, is a travel directory of selected inns & hotels from around the world that place emphasis on art.
The author, Katharina Kniess, contacted us many months ago with interest for Dog Bark Park to be included in the 224-page book.
Dennis & I were delighted to share our thoughts about art as it relates to our business & lives.   What follows are excerpts from the book.
We are connected to art on several fronts: the most major as husband & wife artists we produce and market our own unique artwork.  We are chainsaw carvers with folk art-style renditions of the world’s many dog breeds our specialty.
We have great interest in all genres of art and architecture.  Both of us have dabbled in artistic endeavors from our youths.  With his yearning to create art, Dennis gave up his career in the design & building trades of many years to become a chainsaw artist. We met a decade after that, which started our combined work as artists.

Dog Bark Park Inn B&B under construction

This eventually led to the design & building of Dog Bark Park Inn Bed & Breakfast located adjacent to our art studio and gallery.
The connection of art to our inn is that the very building itself is an expression of art.  The entire building is what is often referred to as mimetic architecture; a building that looks like something else; in this case, a gaint beagle dog……The big dog building was self-designed and constructed entirely by Dennis. 
We eagerly interact with our guests to share our art processes & experiences in Idaho.  This interchange enriches our lives and we think deepens the appreciation of our guests for the art and lifestyle we have here in Idaho. 
Pedestrian entrance to Dog Bark Park – Diaphonous

Working in the arts is a satisfying outlet for our self-expression.  We endeavor to exercise that creativity in everything we do at Dog Bark Park. 

In addition to our studio gallery we have an outdoor sculpture garden of self-constructed objects, like a giant red fire hydrant, an old-fashioned electric coffee pot, an intricately designed roofed walkway, etc.
We are very fortunate to earn a living doing exactly what we want to do with art!

A slideshow peek & Holiday picture of Dog Bark Park

Holiday decorations & Mr. Sprocket

Besides our regular listing & wonderful visitor reviews on Trip Advisor we can now also be found on Trip Advisor’s Vacation Rental link.  As part of that a new video-style slideshow of updated images.
Welcome to the Dog Bark Park Inn, Bed and Breakfast by Frances Conklin in Cottonwood, Idaho. Brought to you by TripAdvisor Vacation Rentals, powered by TripWow!™ 
So much marvelous technology is out there to utilize & this is but one of them.  Oh, to have the time to explore all the fun stuff out there!  Being a mom & pop business tending everything ourselves from maintenance to marketing, Dennis & I must always remain mindful of the most important parts of our endeavor – creating our chainsaw dog carvings & keeping the big dog happily housing our bed & breakfast guests.  The connections with our visitors & guests is absolutely the best part of our business!  Everything else is simply the way we get to meet and interact with our visitors.

A few thoughts on being a Small Business

There’s Black Friday & the Shop Small Business Saturday campaign that reminds shoppers of the importance to patronize local small businesses, or those reachable via other means.   It has been reported recently that about 65% of the economic growth in America during the last decade or so has come from small businesses.  That’s great news & really not new news at all.  Small businesses have occupied the main streets & back alleys of our communities forever. 

And despite all the technological advances that have allowed us to shop globally, small businesses are still necessary and desired in our communities. And although continually evolving & changing with the desires and needs of a community, small businesses thrive.

It is small businesses that give a distinctive identity to a community.  Where else, for example, can one find Philly Cheese Steaks like those from Pats who has been serving up their world-famous sandwiches since 1930?!

Only in Philly are they like this!

Dog Bark Park is about the smallest type of small business possible; we’re a true Mom and Pop business.  It is just one pop and one mom; we have no employees.

Mom, Pop & the Dog

Dennis has been self-employed his entire adult life except for a few years when he first started working.  He can’t imagine making a livelihood without being his own boss!  I’ve had my feet in both worlds, always working for someone else until joining Dennis to grow the dog-gone best business we could imagine for our lives together.
Running your own business is not for everyone that’s for sure.  Not everyone can be comfortable with uncertain paychecks, 7 day work weeks, no paid holidays or vacations & certainly no paid benefit packages and retirement plans.  We Mom and Pops thrive on more than such certainties (and how certain are they actually!).  We live to make our own way, to be the sole decision makers about our chosen livelihoods, to have the flexibility to conduct our business when, where & how we choose.  We love being responsible for ourselves.  We love the discipline required to march to that different drum.  We love being able to be generous whenever it strikes us to do so for whatever reason; we don’t have to justify to anyone our philanthropy, or lack thereof.  We love the satisfaction of providing goods or services that are the results of working our hands or heads.  
As small business owners, we’re thankful for the direct connection we have with our customers who actually feel, and are in many instances, good friends.  The awareness created by Shop Small Business  gives us all a chance to appreciate with words and our patronage the many small businesses around & important to us.

National Dog Bite Prevention Week May 15-22

According to figures from the insurance industry, dog bites account for more than one-third of all homeowner insurance liability claims & resulting in untold pain, suffering & even death for bite victims and the dogs.

Please do your part to keep dogs and humans safe.  The American Veterinary Medical Association is one resource for more information.

Honoring Arbor Day

Yesterday we planted six blue spruce seedlings at Dog Bark Park for Arbor Day.  Our local library has been giving these Idaho grown seedlings to library patrons to encourage awareness of Idaho forest products and the Arbor Day Foundation.

Planting blue spruce seedlings for Arbor Day

In a few years we will move the seedlings to permanent locations on our acreage.  Right now they are together in a small plot with east sun & a bit of protection provided by the big dog from southwest winds & summer’s hot afternoon sun.
Seedlings planted a few years ago are now approaching 3-ft tall.  Other larger pines transplanted longer ago are now being used for nesting robbins as well as shelter for other songbirds, flickers, cats & at least one racer snake.
From our carving studio we can see most of the trees, all ones added to what was a grass only landscape when we founded Dog Bark Park 14 years ago.  We enjoy the beauty of the changing light on them through the day & across the seasons.
Not long ago our largest blue spruce became the canvas for nature’s art.  With an abundance of moisture this winter & spring our pines should have a great start to the growing season when warmer temperatures & plentiful sun arrives.

Blue Spruce transformed


Idaho Rodeos

We live in rodeo country here in north central Idaho where cattle and horses are abundant; which means cowboys & cowgirls are plentiful as well.  Which means rodeo is a favorite pastime for many residents and visitors that come here in the spring, summer & fall.   In fact there are seven rodeos to choose from this year within a hour’s drive of Dog Bark Park.

    For details & dates about the rodeos click here.  (Information is from

How we create a chainsaw carved dog

Meet Huner, a blue merle sheltie carving recently shipped along with 26 other sheltie carvings to a sheltie club in Texas.  This particular sheltie, named Hunter, is our large-size chainsaw dog.  it is about 18 inches tall, by 6 inches thick, by about 20 inches long & weighs nearly 10 pounds. 

Chainsaw-carved Sheltie Dog
The wood is Ponderosa pine harvested from a dead tree last summer.  We use electric Stihl chainsaws in the studio, and once the carving part is done we cure (dryout) the dog for several weeks before beginning its painting.  When the wood is dry we use a propane tourch to burn away any residual chainsaw oil & to lightly darken the wood which also removes any splintery wood fragments left as part of the carving process.  Note the saw marks along the dog’s ruff & body to indicate long flowing fur.

The undercoat grey/blue color is achieved by applying several layers of spray paint.  Next to go on are two layers of white hand-painted on to define the sheltie’s legs, toes, tail, muzzle & collar. To make the merling we lightly dry brush on touches of white over the dog’s body.
After all the white paint is dry, the dog is given black eyes, nose, lip line & whisker marks.  When the eyes are dry a thin dab of white is applied to bring the dog to life.  Because of all the steps involved, it usually takes us several days to paint a Sheltie.

Chainsaw art - Newfoundland dogs

This pair of Newfoundland dogs just shipped to a customer in NJ.  Brown colored newfies are described as bronze.  The black & white one is a variation of what is called a Landseer Newfoundland, which means a black & white Newfie.  The most common coloration for a Newfie is solid black.  The tiny white eye marks described above,  show in this photo.  Underneath the red neckerchief, each dog  wears a brass license tag marked with the year & location of  its origination, Dog Bark Park Cottonwood, Idaho.
Weimeraner chainsaw art dog carving

The Weimeraner, a smooth coated dog with an unusual grey/brown coat coloration, was a breed we have finally been able to offer after discovering a technique a spray painting to achieve a resemblance to its unusal color.   We apply several layers of brown & grey paints with the final layer a light drifting of grey.  The dog has amber eyes & a brown nose, both not readily visible in this photo. 

All three dogs pictured are the large-size carvings we offer on our website.  This size carving is suitable to display outdoors on a patio  or porch or indoors in any entryway or by a favorite chair for example.  If protected from the weather they will last for years to come. 

Slideshow images

With assistance from TripAdvisor, we’ve put together this short slideshow with music that gives a taste of Dog Bark Park.  Most of the items we’ve added to our outdoor art garden are included. Enjoy the visit. And let us know your reactions.

To start the slideshow click here.

Idaho & Czech Republic share a Connection

Until January we had not even a thought we would had any connection here in Idaho with the Czech Republic.  Other than our son visited Prague last year for a vacation.  We’re accustomed to receiving media inquiries about Dog Bark Park & that is what happened a few months ago when the editor of Dogs Magazin contacted us for information & images to include in an upcoming issue of the magazine. 

Aktuální číslo

With the central cover photo being a Beagle we knew why Sweet Willy, our big beagle bed & breakfast would be included!  An article with 6 photos of Dog Bark Park are on pages 96 & 97.    And that’s our connection to the Czech Republic.  It is a small world afterall.  It will seem even smaller if anyone from the Czech Republic comes to visit!

Behind the scenes at Dog Bark Park

Running a small mom & pop business means that Mom and Pop are always taking care of much more then tending the shop.  They usually do everything needed to keep the business in operation from maintenance, to marketing, to shoveling snow, mowing the lawn, office work to banking to landscaping; the list goes on and on. 

At Dog Bark Park we (thats Mom & Pop!) enjoy applying our creativity wherever we can to the more rudimentary necessities of our business.  We try to put our personal touch on nearly everything.  That includes outdoor signage and decorations that need refurbishing or replacing from time to time. 

Dog Bark Park Storefront

We’re in the process right now of replacing 3 yellow storefront flags that Frances designs & then stitches on her workhorse Pfaff sewing machine.  Two larger flags flank both sides of the entryway to the parking lot which also need to be replaced this year.  One will be of green nylon & the other yellow fabric this year.  Lacking a table large enough to cut the fabric we make do by rolling 100 inches of fabric out on the living room rug to measure & cut it to size.  Then the flag pieces are taken to the kitchen table which becomes the sewing table.

Sewing a large yellow flag for Dog Bark Park entrance

We’ll be ready for the spring/summer busy season with bright new flags greeting everyone!

Also during the slower winter months we often get to let our creative pulses run free…maybe its called tinkering!  Using scrap pieces of lumber & plywood, voila, a funky yet comfortable map chair naming memorable locations of our lives.

Scrap wood becomes Map Chair

From NYC

   to Rome
      to Northampton
         to Fargo
            to Two Dot
            anyone know where that is?
to Cottonwood, Idaho and……..
the list goes on!