The pain of losing a dog is all too real for many pet parents. It’s tragic and heartbreaking to lose a companion, a friend, and a loved one. Since dog funerals are not a very common practice in our society, many dog lovers aren’t able to say goodbye and find the closure that they need when their beloved canine passes away. A couple in Vermont have rectified that with their creation of Dog Mountain.
Both artists, Stephen and Gwen Huneck, have been married for over 35 years. They’ve never had children, but they have always had dogs. When he was in his mid-30s, Stephen taught himself to carve wood, and naturally his favorite subject to carve was dogs.
Stephen also had another passion; a dream to build a chapel for dogs. He envisioned a sanctuary for canines where they could run and play with their owners in a loving carefree environment. The couple also wanted it to be a place where dog lovers could come to remember the pets they had lost in the past. They knew it would take some sacrificing and it may be a struggle, but they worked hard to make that dream a reality.
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Shortly after Stephen taught himself to carve, an amazing opportunity fell upon him. He had a carved angel in the back of his pickup truck one day when a man offered to buy it. Stephen offered to sell it to the man for $1,000 and he said yes. After explaining that he was an art dealer from New York, the man asked when he could get more of Stephen’s artwork.
That launched his business in the art world and he began focusing on carving dogs. He began squirreling away money to make his dream come true. Another amazing opportunity shortly followed when the couple made a lot of money from selling a rare Native American relic that they had purchased during an estate sale.
They used the money to buy 150 acres in the mountains outside of St. Johnsbury, Vermont. Now, a chapel sits on top of the hill at Dog Mountain. A small, white chapel with a steeple and stained glass windows where people come to leave notes, photos, drawings, and other remembrances of the beloved pets they’ve lost in the past.
Sadly, the Hunecks fell into a financial hardship in 2008 and two years later Stephen took his own life. Gwen struggled to keep Dog Mountain going, but she too passed away in 2013. Now, her brother, Jon Ide, takes care of the grounds and does his best to honor the memory of the original couple that started the heartwarming sanctuary for dogs and their owners.