One the great parts of Jed’s job is our ability to travel around and explore the area – and one of the great parts about my job is the ability to tag along! I don’t have to ask for vacation time anymore (but I did have to work a few solid 14-hour days to free up the time to go!)
This time, our travels led us to Burlington, VT – a picturesque lakeside town with a fabulous upscale/urban/college-town vibe in Northern Vermont. On our way back, we skipped the interstate and decided to weave through the Vermont countryside Eastward, which reminded me of my travels through Austria, years ago. It was dramatically hilly, muddy, sometimes run-down, but consistently jaw-droppingly gorgeous. We stopped in St. Johnsbury, on the VT/NH border for lunch (ps, isn’t it quaint that these county seat towns are called ‘SHIRE towns’? *love*). A quick Google search led us to the ‘Dog Chapel’ – we thought it’d be a nice, silly attraction to stop by and snap a few pics of our church-going pups…
It was a long, winding dirt path up to Dog Mountain, but we finally found the Chapel.
We were the only visitors there that day. Walking in was breathtaking…
The entrance had a table with colored notecards, where visitors could write memorial notes to pets who’ve passed on. Some owners wrote quick notes – others brought formal typed- letters complete with photos – and they were all thumb-tacked on the walls. Every surface was covered…
The place was just astounding. The creator – Artist Stephen Hunek built the chapel after a miraculous recovery from a Respiratory Disease that nearly ended his life. The love for his pets inspired him to build a place to honor the relationships between pets and people, especially his black Lab, Sally – the subject of several of his books.
We checked out the gift shop, where the clerk (wife, Gwen) invited us to let our pups off their leashes, and offered us cookies and coffee. Leaving with a stack of notecards and a bumper sticker stating ‘I Love Dog Mountain’ – I just couldn’t forget the place.
At home, I logged back on to their website, to learn more a bit more about the artist – when I stumbled across this –
In Loving Memory of
It turns out, the artist took his own life 1/7/2010, after a long battle with depression. How incredibly sad.
I won’t forget this place, that’s for sure. The beauty of the chapel, the thousands of pet memorials, and the Artist’s work – now sold by the Artist’s widow hoping to keep his memory and vision alive — it’s beautiful and so much more than I expected on this little side trip.
Interested in learning more? Take a listen to NPR’s coverage of the Stephen Hunek Memorial. Amazing.