Chances are you’ve seen Stephen Huneck’s artwork. Dog lovers adore his paintings and woodcarvings for their playful, colorful style and witty observations about man’s best friend.
What you may not know is that Huneck and his wife Gwen devoted their lives to a dream project called Dog Mountain. The 150 acre Vermont farm features off-leash trails, trout-stocked ponds and one very unique chapel.
The Hunecks bought the massive St. Johnsbury, Vermont property in 1995 and converted the barn into an art studio. They dreamed of a place where dogs could run free and enjoy the gorgeous New England countryside in a safe place designed just for them. Dog Mountain was born out of that vision.
The property opened to the public in 2000 with a newly-added 1800s-style church complete with stained glass windows and hand-carved pews. They called it the Dog Chapel.
It’s a beautiful day on Dog Mountain! Sally is waiting for her friends to come.
Huneck wanted visitors to have a quiet place of reflection to sit and remember the dogs they had loved and lost – a place devoted to the human-animal bond. From day one, he invited guests to post photos and written memorials on the Remembrance Wall in their dogs’ honor. Today the entire chapel is wallpapered from floor to ceiling with these moving tributes.
Oh, my… Dog Chapel is incredible. Filled to the brim with photos and love notes to best friends #explorevermont #dogmountain #stjohnsbury #NEK #blackdogaffairs #stephenhuneck #dogchapel
In the Introduction to his 2010 book, Even Bad Dogs Go to Heaven – More From the Dog Chapel, Huneck wrote, in part:
“Grieving for a lost dog is one aspect of the Dog Chapel, but equally important is celebrating the joy of living and the bond between dogs and their owners.”
Over the years Dog Mountain has become exactly what Huneck envisioned – a place where dogs can be dogs and the people who love them can reflect on what they mean to us. Visitors hike in the spring and fall, fish in the summer, and snowshoe in the winter while their dogs socialize and bask in the freedom.
Sally and Bentley sure enjoyed the water this weekend! But Bentley wouldn’t let her bring back her own stick without his help.
Several times a year Dog Mountain holds massive parties for pooches and their humans including summer barbecues and winter bonfires. Guests are always welcome to enjoy the breathtaking views and all the amenities this uniquely magical venue has to offer – even when the art gallery and chapel are closed.
Stephen and Gwen Huneck have passed away since seeing their dream come to fruition, but their legacy of love, whimsy and joy lives on through their greatest creation.
Featured Images via Facebook/Katie – Super Pup