Attention all pet lovers, this is a story for you.
At Dog Mountain, happy, barking dogs are all around. Set on a private mountain spot in St. Johnsbury, Vermont, dogs are free to run, play, swim, and meet other dogs.
After losing his own dog in the 90s, creator and artist Steven Huneck wanted to create a special place for dogs and their owners.
“One of Stephen’s biggest mottos, I love to say, is “Dream without limits.” Because when you think about it, when we start dreaming, reality starts putting limits on it and, ‘Oh, I can’t do that. Oh, it’s too expensive. Oh, what if nobody comes,'” said Dog Mountain’s Creative Director Amanda McDermott.
Dog mountain is home to the one and only dog chapel, which Huneck described as his largest and most personal artwork.
“Stephen really wanted to create a place for someone to mourn, to love, to laugh, to watch all these dogs running around having fun, playing. It’s like, wow,” said McDermott.
McDermott worked for Stephen and his wife Gwen for over 15 years. In 2009, Steven died of suicide and his wife three years later. For McDermott, it was tough losing her mentors, whom she cared for deeply.
“It was really hard when we lost him because he was the captain of the ship, we kind of felt,” said McDermott.
“Today his memory lives on through his art inside the Steven Huneck Gallery, which houses over 700 of his paintings. One dog owner enjoys visiting the park and even came back this year to celebrate her dog’s first birthday.
“He made a lot of doggy friends last summer, which is really nice. The grounds for hiking are beautiful. And you know, you come back in the fall and the foliage can’t be beat,” said Diane Dyer, a returning Dog Mountain visitor.
McDermott says the park reminds visitors of an important message.
“Just one person did this. Just one person. Don’t let anyone tell you that one person can’t make a difference because you are standing on the living proof that one person can make a difference and thank goodness he did,” said McDermott.
Dog Mountain plans to stay open during this time and is committed to keeping Stephen Huneck’s vision alive.