Episode 135- Dog Bark Park

The flowers are starting to bloom, interspersed with snow flurries, rain showers, and way too much mud. That can only mean one thing: spring has sprung. Traditionally, this would be the time when rowdy college kids head for Spring Break and the rest of us (maybe equally rowdy) dream of getting away to shake off the winter blues. Of course, this year is a lot different. Well, not so different from last year around this time, but you get what we’re saying… But we can still dream of taking a journey sometime soon. And we’re talking about an actual, physical journey — not the metaphorical journeys of self discovery we’ve all been forced to take for the past year.

When you’ve been stuck looking at the same four walls, it can be hard to narrow down where, exactly, your first official travel destination may be. Luckily, our guest for this week’s episode, Frances Conklin, might have just what you’re looking for. Do you love dogs, wide-open spaces, chainsaw art, and roadside attractions? Do you think Snoopy and Lyndon Johnson’s dogs are okay, but you expect more from a beagle? Then head to Cottonwood, Idaho, and book a stay at the Dog Bark Park Inn.

Frances Conklin and her husband, Dennis, are artists who have run Dog Bark Park since the late ‘90s. It’s has two elements — a bed and breakfast and a chainsaw art gallery. Now, you might be thinking, “I was looking for a place to take a quick break between Boise and Spokane, might as well check out some chainsaw art.” And we would agree with you. You’ll definitely need to stretch your legs on that trip and the Conklin’s chainsaw art is more than worth the stop. But we’d urge you to plan on staying the night. Because Dog Bark Park isn’t just a bed and breakfast — it’s a bed and breakfast located inside the world’s biggest beagle.

Frances, who you can tell is the consummate host just by chatting with her, shared with us how she and her husband got into the chainsaw art game. It’s a great story and shows that QVC can bring people together in surprising ways. Frances and Dennis produce all sorts of carved pieces, but dogs are their specialty and no breed is too daunting. Naturally, we were curious as to how the Conklins progressed from just chainsaw art dogs (which seems like more than enough work to begin with), to a bed and breakfast housed in a giant beagle. This isn’t just a beagle-shaped yurt or a cabin with some ears and a tail stuck on it. You can see Sweet Willy the Beagle from the highway. There’s a deck, a sleeping loft, and a “cozy alcove in the muzzle.” (That last part is quoted directly from their website, but we couldn’t have said it better ourselves.) And right next to Sweet Willy is Toby, a 12-foot-tall beagle statue built by Dennis and Frances.

This is a true roadside attraction. Even if you don’t have time to stay in the giant beagle (we don’t understand why you wouldn’t MAKE time), you can still stop and take a look around the artists’ studio and gift shop. Frances spoke with us about what went into creating Dog Bark Park and what to expect when you visit. For those of you who aren’t content with just hanging out in a giant beagle, Frances elaborated on what else there is to do in the area, especially if you’re a nature lover or a stargazer. And since Frances isn’t originally from Cottonwood, Idaho, we had questions about how the locals viewed her endeavors. Truthfully, it’s hard to be mad at an inn that’s gotten rave reviews on travel websites, write-ups in newspapers like the London Times, and draws international visitors to the area.

Tune in to this week’s episode to get more of your questions about giant beagles and chainsaw art answered. You can also check out Dog Bark Park on their website and on Facebook. Once you read up on it, you’ll be inspired to make plans for your own Journey out there. Don’t stop believin’ that you can have it any way you want it. If the wheels in the sky lead you to Idaho, and you faithfully trust our recommendations, head to Cottonwood. And if you don’t trust us, maybe we should go our separate ways. Embrace our suggestions with open arms and when the lights go out in Sweet Willy, who knows? There might be some lovin’, touchin’, and squeezin’. Who’s crying now? Be good to yourself.

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