In northern Vermont, about two hours east of Burlington, a white chapel appears, at first, to be a traditional New England church.
But look beyond the towering spire and rolling hills and you’ll notice something else: The church is actually a dog chapel, built to honor the bond between dog and owner.
It sits on a 150-acre mountaintop farm—called Dog Mountain—that’s been welcoming dog lovers since it opened in 2000. Stephen and Gwen Huneck first bought the property in 1995 and, over the years, transformed it into a leash-free, artistic puppy paradise, with plenty of room to run.
Stephen Huneck viewed Dog Mountain as “the largest artwork of my life and my most personal.” As a woodcarver, artist, and author of 10 children’s books celebrating a black Labrador named Sally, Huneck filled the farm with wooden sculptures and vibrant woodcut prints. Both Stephen and Gwen Huneck have since passed away, but the centerpiece of Dog Mountain remains the Dog Chapel.
A sign in front of the chapel reads, “Welcome all creeds, all breeds, no dogmas allowed.” Inside, gorgeous stained-glass windows compliment hand-carved wooden pews, all created by Huneck to honor canines. There’s even custom-designed, hand-casted doorknobs and a special dog door—naturally.
The chapel’s centerpiece is a winged Sally dog—of picture book fame—that sits on a pedestal, surrounded by notes. When the Dog Chapel opened to the public, Huneck encouraged people to “put up a photo of their departed dog and to write a few sentences about what their dog meant to them.” The “Remembrance Wall” contains post-its, letters, and photos from people all over the world.
Today, the room is covered in notes, a touching tribute both to the love of pets and to the artist who created the chapel. "When you visit the Dog Chapel you are totally enveloped with messages of love,” said Huneck. “It is a very moving experience—sad, certainly, but also uplifting—to see how much everyone cherishes his or her dog.”
The Dog Mountain property is always open to the public, allowing people and pets to roam and frolic in swimming ponds, fields, and hiking trails. The gallery of Stephen Huneck’s work has varying hours according to the season (head over here for more) and Dog Mountain also hosts various events—think dog parties, dog trainings, and even winter bonfires—throughout the year.
Here are a few Instagram shots taken at Dog Mountain: