A Dog Chapel in Vermont Allows Owners to Mourn

June 2, 2015

Artists Stephen and Gwen Huneck never had children but always loved dogs – and always had them around. Their pups, two black Labs named Daisy and Sally and Molly, a golden retriever, were not only companions but also inspirations.

When Stephen was in his mid-30s he took up carving and decided much of his artwork would be focused on his love of dogs, with his muse often being Sally. And what started out as a hobby, helped pave the path for Stephen’s dream.

When the couple sold a Native American relic for a lot of money, the pair decided to purchase 150 acres outside of St. Johnsbury, Vermont, the future home to Dog Mountain, a place for all dogs to just be dogs. After taking three years to complete, the area was filled with trails, tennis balls, swimming areas and Stephen’s dog carvings.

Related: ‘How Lucky I am to Have Something That Makes Saying Goodbye So Hard’

gwen-stephen-workshop

But Stephen wasn’t done. He also added another, unique element to Dog Mountain: the first-ever canine chapel. He wanted to have a place for owners who lost their dogs to grieve. While from the outside, the New England style chapel looks ordinary, inside, the stained glass building, has dog carvings at the end of pews and notes all over from owners opening up about the loss of their dogs.

Unfortunately, Stephen, having suffered from a fall, an upper-respiratory infection and hard times, took his life. Once Stephen passed away, the interest in his art skyrocketed. In a way, Gwen thought it was sort of a gift, as this interest in his art and Dog Mountain help keep a roof on her head and the canine facility alive. But tragedy struck and in 2013, Gwen passed away.

While their passing saddened the community, they are remembered by all those that visit Dog Mountain and the chapel.

To see additional pictures and hear the podcast about the couple, Dog Mountain and the Dog Chapel, head over to longhaulpro.org.

Related: New Yorker Takes Dying Dog On Bucket List, Visits 35 Cities

H/T NPR

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