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.

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.

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

 

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. 
 
 
 
 

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!

Dog Breeds 101- the Norwich Terrier

We’re back with another installment in our dog breed series.  The Norwich Terrier is our pick for this post.

Norwich Terriers carved in wood by ChainsawA bit of confusion about the name of this breed sometimes still exists. At one time this dog was included in a group of small bodied terriers referred to as Norfolk Terriers. It was only as recent as 1979 that the Norwich was recognized as a separate breed from the Norfolk Terrier. The Norwich has erect ears and the Norfolk has folded ears. Other than these differences, the two dogs share a common history. A line-up of red-coated Norwich Terriers

Both terriers were used for centuries in England as general farm and hunting dogs.  They became popular off the farm in the late 1800’s which began their development with specific breed characteristics.  The Norwich is a small, sociable, alert, handsome and charming dog making it well-suitable to be a companion or working dog.  Although it is smaller than other terriers, this beguiling canine is as sturdy and energetic as any.

Since Dennis & I have just added the Norwich to our kennel of canine carvings, the Norwich is not yet listed on our Dog Bark Park website.  The dog is available in either small or large size carvings and is priced the same as all our other dog carvings.  As the photos illustrate we offer the Norwich with either red or black & tan colorations.  To order, simply e-mail frances@dogbarkparkinn.com or phone us at 208 962-3647.
Our chainsaw Norwich Terriers will debut in June at a Norwich specialty show in Texas.  We look forward to their success  & have enjoyed making a baker’s dozen of the little dogs for this show.  Each dog looks a bit different from the next one since they are individually carved and hand-painted. 

7 Norwich Terriers, 7 slightly different faces

  

Spring activities at Dog Bark Park

Spring in Idaho involves all kinds of weather.  April at Dog Bark Park  has seen snow, been warm as summer, rained plenty, & also was just plain lovely with pleasant sunny days. 

Shockingly bright tulips

These red/orange tulips are especially shocking on recent overcast days. Their color shouts out for attention.

A few daffodils are the only other flowers in bloom right now.  Soon tulips will be showing their red and pink colors.  And we always welcome the tiny white or pink blossoms of our honeysuckle shrubs.  One small lilac bush will flower at about the same time.  Ah, spring!

On one of the summer-like days last week, Dennis was able to begin re-painting the big beagle.   He’s on a 20 foot ladder and will definetely not be there when the prairie winds are a’blowing.  In this photo he’s just finishing the dog’s black saddle.

Repainting Sweet Willy

 This is the first entire re-do of the dog’s coat since the original painting  ten years ago.  If time & the weather allows we plan to have the entire beagle refreshed before Fall arrives.  With one ladder and one gent it is not a quick weekend task that’s for sure.  I do plan to help paint the lower sections. One would think, after spending a few summers on high forest fire lookouts in the mountains, heights would not bother me….but that was a long time ago & time has a way of changing us!

Even ambassadors need a rest

Sprocket resting on his wooden gate

Mr. Sprocket, our golden retriever Dog Bark Park Ambassador-in-Training, takes a beauty rest from time to time while on the job.  It is his primary task to greet visitors at his wooden gate in the entryway between our office/giftshop and our carving studio behind him.  He will not cross the low wooden carving, usually standing there wagging his tail in an attempt to get visitors to step closer so he can receive proper greetings from them.  After that, and particularly when conversations between humans get too lengthy for his canine attention span, he’ll do just this – relax and take a snooze.

Spring 2010 Newsletter

In this newsletter:


This is our 1st newsletter for 2010 – our lucky 13th year! Thank you for your business and referrals that have been key to our longevity. Our kennel of friends would not continue to grow without you.

We never tire of carving the wooden dogs that have been the mainstay of our business for longer than the 13 years we’ve been at Dog Bark Park. Nor do we weary of meeting visitors and guests to the big dog that has brought us a bit of world-wide fame – Dog Bark Park Inn Bed & Breakfast.

About the Big Dog & Pricing

Apple Sauce MuffinsSweet Willy welcomes his first 2010 overnight guests in early April. Hard to believe this is the big dog’s 8th season!

Reservations are coming in at a good pace. Happily, more people stay every year. So far this year our bookings include several international visitors, some interesting small groups, and families from across the country.

Unlike the price of gas or cost for a bag of dog food, our rates will not change for the 4th year running. Be assured our amenities remain the same; our fresh and home-prepared breakfast & snack selections are as plentiful as ever. Only things we have cut are the dog’s toe nails & our hair!

Gift ShopSpring Activities

 With Spring arriving early this year, we’re busily sprucing things up both indoors and out. A new patio floor for the giftshop entry is underway. We’ve re-painted and re-arranged the giftshop/office, adding some new products as well, like the cutest artisan-crafted glycerin bath soaps decoratively embedded with dog portraits! In the big beagle, Sweet Willy has received a thorough grooming with some new touches added as well.

Video Tour

Please join us for a 3-minute visit complements of the Purina Company. Last November, a videographer on assignment for Purina visited with us on the snowest day of winter. To view the video click here. Nearly 48,000 people have viewed it already, making it one of Purina’s most successful video clips.

Great Idaho Getaway

Ever wondered what Idaho looks like? Or what there is to do in Idaho? Here’s an entertaining 30-minute mini-movie of a family’s vacation through Idaho. And guess who’s included? – the big beagle, of course! To see the movie go to www.greatidahogetaway.org

A 30-member film entourage and the family descended on Dog Bark Park in two motor homes for part of a day last June. The weather was perfect Idaho gorgeous and the cameras rolled while the adventurous family looked about & visited. This day was another example of the job benefits Dennis & I are grateful to enjoy – meeting new people and Coffee Pot at Sunsetthe new experiences that result.

New Outdoor Art

Last October’s newsletter included pictures of the giant Corning Ware-like coffee pot that we built in early 2009. Late last summer Dennis finished his second giant pop art installation for the year – oversized Alphabet Blocks!

They, like the coffeepot, are modeled after objects of yesteryear, in this case painted wooden alphabet blocks with raised letters and borders. These are a bit Close-up Concrete Blocksdifficult to stack or re-arrange since they’re made of concrete and each letter is 4-ft square!

Construction-wise, the blocks were a more challenging endeavor than building the giant coffeepot. Fashioning the wood forms needed for pouring the concrete so that the letters and borders protruded beyond the flat background surfaces of the concrete blocks was not quick or easy work. Additionally, it was no small feat to wrestle & secure the heavy bulky forms into position without having them tip over as the optical illusion suggests.

Oversize Alphabet Blocks

We’re not sure what big outdoor sculpture might be next. So far, we’re focused on preparing for the new concrete patio entryway – an on the ground rather routine project! No doubt, once that’s done we’ll be scratching the ground for another “fun” art project.

Customer Photos

These snapshots are from Dog Bark Park visitors and customers.We invite you to e-mail your favorite digital memories of a visit to Dog Bark Park or of your dog with its wooden companion. Be sure to include a little background info as well & we’ll post your pictures in a future newsletter.

  English residents - the Beagle Trio Maddie the Beagle Twins
Dylan dogs living in the United Kingdom Maddie's human parents - the Topps

Creating a Dog – the Process in Pictures

This series of photos illustrates the transformation of Idaho pine into a wooden dog. Apollo, a custom order was made to approximate the real dog by the same name.

We attempted to highlight the unique features of the furry Apollo that will best make our carved rendition recognizable.

We emphasized Apollo’s black eye patch, his alert ears and the overall mottled appearance of his coat.

Rounding Apollos Back

The dog begins to emerge

The dog begins to emerge

Rounding Apollos back

Working on Apollos back

Working on Apollos back

Giving Apollo a hip

Giving Apollo a hip

Apollo gets his first coat of paint.

The completed Apollo

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Brr! Winter has arrived along with Holidog orders.

Snowy beagles

Wintery Idaho

What a surprise to wake up to a scene like this yesterday! Fortunately, our last guests for the 2009 season saw better weather than this a couple of weeks ago.
The big beagle is now hibernating & will awaken to greet overnight visitors in April.

Using wood scrap for heat, we’re warm & busy in our carving studio making holidogs for holiday orders.  A dozen airedales will be shipping to Florida next week. 

Ponderosa Pine Airedales

Chainsaw Carved Airedales

Beagles are going to the United Kingdom, Arizona, New York and who knows where else!  Saint Bernards,

Brass license tag & neckerchief included w/each carving

Handpainted Saint Bernard

Newfies, Labradors & Golden Retrievers will also be holiday gifts for dog lover’s in other locations.  And more orders keep arriving.

There’s still plenty of time to select that special dog for the holidays; small carvings take less than two weeks for us to create.  We have many different dog breeds completed & ready for immediate shipping.  Feel free to phone us for availability.

DogBarkPark studio carvings

Sampling of Dog Carvings

Left to right & top to bottom: scottie, westie, 2 springers, yellow lab, boston terrier, howling beagle, sheltie, chocolate lab, springer, sitting westie, begging scottie, german shephered, black lab, pug, schnauzer, jack russell, cocker spaniel, beagle, siberian husky, boxer, akita, rottweiler, boxer, dalmatian, schnauzer, boston terrier, sniffing beagle, labrador, standing beagle.  Many more breeds are available.  Visit our web gallery for photos and a complete listing of breeds.
We’re happy to send a carving directly to your gift recipient.  Gift certificates are another option for that special someone. 

Puppy Lover’s Poem

Waiting for visitors to come say hello

Golden puppy Sprocket

We just re-discovered this poem written by D. Lyman whose family stayed at Dog Bark Park two summer’s ago. Our puppy, now 10 months old and 75 pounds heavy looks mostly like a grown golden retriever, yet he’s still very much a puppy in spirit & has not tired of chasing butterflies or birds.

My Puppy

His gentle puppy breath, so warm and skunky sweet.
Paws that trip and stumble over everything they meet.
Liquid eyes, not quite focused, filled with purest trust.
And when he sleeps, sweet puppy dreams, legs that kick and thrust.

Sometimes he’s slow to understand, but he only wants to please.
It’s just his mind that wanders after everything he sees.
A bird or butterfly, each a strange and new delight.
And every blowing leaf is a challenge to a fight.

His body trembles with excitement each time I speak his name.
A harsh word from my mouth fills his heart with grief and shame.
Every moment I’m away is a lifetime in his mind.
A more selfless love, a truer friend, I will never find.
—————————–

While writing this blog our puppy Sprocket has finished a favorite activity, shredding a cardboard box into tiny pieces scattering them throughout the house of course! Job completed, he’s now napping on the cool tile floor until some other enticing play opportunity catches his fancy.