Friday, February 15, 2008

10 Years of BARking

What magazine does your dog read?

If he's classy enough, he reads BARk, the magazine of modern dog culture.

BARk celebrates its 10th anniversary with the January/February issue. Its current back-cover ad is nothing short of astonishing if you're not the sort of person who lets the dog pick the family car: Two heaping plates of Joshua Speed organic comestibles -- grass-fed beef with corkscrew pasta, carrots and broccoli; free-range chicken with zucchini and rice -- under the headline, "Yes, it's dog food." We hope Bowser leaves some table scraps for us.

BARk started out as a humble newsletter, hand-delivered by a group of dog-lovers advocating for off-leash areas (not to be confused with much-smaller dog parks). Right from the start, it included sophisticated artwork, serious articles -- traveling with your pet, the environmental impact of flea meds -- and paid advertising. It morphed gradually from handbill to black-and-white tabloid to glossy mag and is famous for literary contributions from the likes of Susan Orlean, Ann Patchett, Amy Hempel and Rick Bass.

The 10th anniversary issue includes an article on canine compulsive disorder, a celebration of dogs in pop music (with online links to the songs at, and a feature on Montana's First Dog, Jag, headlined "Blue Dog in a Red State." Other highlights are results of the cover-dog contest, the regular two-page spread of smiling dog photos submitted by readers, and a priceless quote from Joe Markham, inventor of the almost-indestructible Kong toys: "I just wanted my dog to stop chewing rocks."

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