This past Labor Day weekend we made a visit to a very special Chapel that I have heard about for years.
If you have ever loved a dog and especially if you have ever loved and lost a dog, you must pay a visit to the Dog Chapel in St. Johnsbury VT. Located high on a hill called Dog Mountain the Chapel was the final masterpiece of artist Stephen Huneck.
My husband and I own two prints by Huneck and actually met him many years back when he owned a gallery on Nantucket. His artwork was centered around dogs and the chapel was a culmination of his art and his lasting tribute to all dogs everywhere. Built completely by hand starting back in 1977 Huneck completed his dream and opened the Chapel in 2000. The Chapel resembles a 19th-century New England church from the outside, apart from the steeple topped by a winged Labrador.
Situated on 150 scenic acres Dog Mountain is a paradise for a dogs (and their human’s) with walking trails, a dog play ground and plenty of free doggie treats. There is even a swimming hole that is clearly marked “swimming for dogs only”.
When you approach the Chapel you are greeted by a medley of dog breeds and a sign that proclaims: “Welcome: All Creeds, All Breeds. No Dogmas Allowed.”
Once inside, prepare to have a very moving experience. Soft spiritual music plays and visitors are encouraged to leave notes honoring their dogs that have passed. As you can see every wall is covered with photos, notes, stories and memories of loved and lost dogs.
The pews are supported by Huneck’s iconic Black and Yellow Labs.
The stained glass windows were my favorite part of the Chapel and I love Huneck’s color combinations. Each window features dogs doing what they love: eating a bone,
sharing ice cream cones,
and getting lots of love.
Reading some of the moving tributes to the dogs was difficult for me as our current dog Tucker is over 13 years old and we lost our 12 year old dog Maddy to Cancer just over 3 years ago.
We pinned a note to the wall honoring Maddy and attempted to introduce our Weimaraner Tucker to Huneck’s Weimaraner but he wasn’t too interested.
He was actually spooked by the whole experience and just wanted to go back outside…or go eat some more treats.
As moving and beautiful as the Chapel is there is a very sad story associated with it. In 2010 after some serious financial struggles Stephen Huneck took his own life. His wife Gwen is doing her best to keep the chapel open but without her husband to keep his art going she currently owes thousands in unpaid taxes. The State of Vermont is threatening to close the Chapel and sell off the land in an auction. We did our part by making a small donation and buying a “Good Dog Bad Dog” reversible bandanna.
After such a moving experience we did cheer ourselves up by taking photos in front of the World’s Largest Maple Syrup can. How happy is that!
How about you are you a dog lover like me? Have you ever heard of Dog Mountain and the Chapel that Huneck built?
If you would like help decorating your house or choosing color give me a call.