Lonely Planet Writer

Take your four-legged friend to Vermont's Dog Mountain - it even has a chapel for dogs

In London, there was an art exhibition and a tour bus for dogs, in Huntington Beach, California, canines compete in an annual surf competition, and tucked away in a bucolic area of Northern Vermont is the Dog Chapel.

About two hours north of Burlington in St. Johnsbury, Vermont, Dog Mountain is situated on 150 acres of private land. Artist Stephen Huneck and his wife Gwen first bought the property in 1995, and the pair spent years transforming its rolling green hills into a haven for dogs and dog lovers alike.

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The mountaintop has hiking trails, dog ponds, an art gallery, and the Dog Chapel. Outside the classic white, steeple-topped structure, a sign reads “Welcome, All Creeds, All Breeds, No Dogmas Allowed,” while inside, visitors will find a sanctuary dedicated to mourning their departed dogs. There are wooden pews with intricately hand-carved dogs, stained glass windows, a doggie door, and an expansive “Remembrance Wall.”  

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The wall has since taken over the entire interior of the building, where visitors from around the world have covered every space with photos and notes memorializing beloved furry friends. “When you visit the Dog Chapel you are totally enveloped with messages of love. Grieving for a lost dog is one aspect of the Dog Chapel, but equally important is celebrating the joy of living and the bond between dogs and their owners,” said Huneck.

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The inspiration for Dog Chapel came to Huneck after battling a serious illness. “I wanted to build a chapel in the style of an 1820s Vermont church on Dog Mountain, our mountaintop farm. I wanted it to fit into the landscape, as if it had always been there.”  Huneck, who specialized in hand-carving wood, has since passed away, but his legacy lives on. The artist also wrote ten children’s books inspired by his black lab named Sally, who features prominently in the design and decor of Dog Chapel.

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Dog Mountain is always open to the public, even when the Chapel is closed, and hosts events like dog parties. There is no leash rule, so while visitors hike or snowshoe, dogs can swim, run free, and play with other pups year round.

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