We drove forever along winding, twisting, muddy roads to get here. We knew the destination but the location itself was unclear because it’s not in maps; we were being guided by a series of GPS coordinates that led us to Dog Mountain. It was here that we saw the Dog Chapel sign/statue below.
From the sign we drove up a very icy, muddy, mountain road to the gallery and chapel. The gallery is big and white and noticeable… the chapel is small and dignified and sort of hidden behind the gallery.
All manner of dog, human, animal are welcome here; our dogs (or any dog) would be so happy to run through the quiet, forested, muddy Vermont fields of grass and snow. It must be so beautiful in the summer. This makes it the perfect place to have a place of memorial for people’s departed pets. Perhaps it is dog heaven.
There’s a sign on the entrance to the chapel that says, Please leave no ashes, framed photos, large memorials because we can’t guarantee their safety. This is the first indication that the chapel is very special to people who have lost their pets.
We planned to leave a photo and note for Stryder, who passed away 2-years ago. La Niña is still working on final closure, which is completely our fault. We all knew he was terminally ill, but she wasn’t there when he passed away. They were best friends, she should have been there when he died… to know and understand that he was ready to move on.
Visiting the Dog Chapel was her opportunity to mourn, gain some closure, and leave a personal memorial for him in a beautiful location.
Her whispered comment after pinning his photo to the wall: “Whoever created this is a genius.” I agree.
That genius is Stephen Huneck, who styled the building like an 1820 Vermont village church and pieced it together using materials from deconstructed buildings and churches. And, judging by the number of memorials pinned to the walls, others appreciate his work and effort. Simply by creating the chapel, he has helped countless people gain closure and find peace.