The heartbreak and grief brought on by the loss of a beloved pet is painful. Dog Mountain was created to provide a place where people can go for healing, reflection and celebration after experiencing the loss of a pet. Created by Stephen Huneck, Dog Mountain is located on 150 acres overlooking a hillside in St. Johnsbury, Vermont.
Stephen Huneck is a folk artist best known for woodcut prints of playful dogs. Huneck and his wife, Gwen, also an artist purchased the property that is now Dog Mountain in 1995. They made their art in an old dairy barn which stood on the property. According to Huneck, dogs played a significant role in his recovery following an illness which left him in a coma for two months. Huneck describes a near-death experience which brought him a vision of what would eventually become Dog Chapel. Huneck was inspired to create a place on his property where people could visit to honor the dogs who live on in their memories. Because dogs played such a large role in his recovery, Huneck dreamed of building a space to celebrate the human-pet bond. Huneck wanted to help people “achieve closure and lessen the pain when we lose a beloved dog.”
Dog Mountain is the fulfillment of Huneck’s dream. Leash optional, Dog Mountain is a haven for dogs and humans. Open year round, Dog Mountain hosts summer concerts and seasonal dog parties. Visitors are treated to an iconic scene of swimming ponds, hiking trails and wildflower meadows dotting the landscape. Thousands of dog and art lovers across the country visit Dog Mountain to celebrate the significant contribution dogs make to the betterment of our lives.
In May of 2000, the Hunecks opened the Dog Chapel modeled after an 1820s Vermont church. Huneck created a Remembrance Wall in the foyer of the chapel so visitors could honor a beloved pet. According to Huneck, “As soon as the Dog Chapel was open to the public, I invited everyone who came to visit to put up a photo of their departed dog and to write a few sentences about what their dog meant to them.”
Outside the chapel, visitors are met by a sign which reads, “Welcome all creeds, all breeds, no dogmas allowed.” In addition, four lifelike dog statues ranging in size from extra large to small stand sentry. The doorknobs are dog heads modeled after the artist’s black Labrador, Sally. The stained glass in the chapel is dog-themed. Every wall surface is covered with photos, drawings and notes honoring a beloved pet who has passed away. Carvings of dogs by the artist as well as his books fill the empty spaces.
Dog Mountain was created, not only to celebrate the joy and love dogs provide, but to provide a place of solace for those grieving the death of a beloved pet. Huneck has written “dogs not only bring us closer to nature but help us live in the moment and feel unconditionally loved.” Isn’t it wonderful to think a place like this exists to honor the amazing dogs we are fortunate to love?