The Dog Chapel in Saint Johnsbury, Vermont is a place to remember, celebrate, and play!
It goes without saying that the hardest part of loving a dog, is losing them. Dog lovers know that this will eventually happen with each and every cherished pet.
Dog Chapel in St. Johnsbury, Vvermont is a place to remember those we've loved, and run around and make new friends.
A lifelong Vermonter, Dog Chapel has been on my bucket list for years. This weekend, Hambone and I prepped the car for a short road trip (i.e. put his favorite blanket in the front seat) and headed off!
As soon as you step out of the car, you are greeted with beautiful views from the top of Dog Mountain. There are two separate buildings to the right of the driveway, the Gallery and the Chapel.
As you approach the Gallery you're met by incredible statues and art dotting the beautiful 150-acre mountain.
Dog Chapel started with Stephen Huneck and his artwork. Dog Chapel is "the largest artwork of his life."
The Gallery features Huneck's artwork, where you can browse and shop his incredible works.
There is even a dog-shaped faucet in the rest room-a true ode to furry friends. From the Gallery, you step out onto a porch with yet another stunning view- a true Heaven on Earth.
In front of the Chapel, the sign reads, "Welcome, All Creeds, All Breeds, No Dogmas Allowed" with more of Huneck's work. We posed for some pictures, but Hambone was terrified of the statues. Go figure.
As you turn to walk into the Chapel, you can already see the notes. They stick out into the doorway upon entering. Love literally overflows from the Chapel.
I was immediately speechless.
I had seen pictures of the chapel, so I knew there were a lot of notes. However, the pictures don't begin to do the numbers justice. The notes are no longer tacked to the walls, they're now taped to each other.
There are instructions on how to attach your note, since the walls are no longer reachable, or visible, for that matter.
The chapel is a beautiful mosaic of drawings, photos, letters, and quotes- messages to all the beloved canine companions that have crossed the Rainbow Bridge to dog heaven.
There was an ornament filled with dog hair, collars and tags, photographs and paw prints.
Behind the Chapel there are hiking trails and a dog pond. Dog Mountain is an off-leash dog park so there were plenty of big dogs playing in the pond, swimming, and rolling in the dirt.
Hambone was happy to sniff around the perimeters and trot along in the tall grass, but wasn't going anywhere near that dog pond nor to play with the big dogs. No way, no how.
He did meet a few of them, and met his butt-sniffing quota of the day. Overall, I'd call it a success.
I expected to feel sad as I signed the guest book and wrote a note to my childhood pup, a German Shepherd named Tucker. I thought I would tear up in the Chapel as I read all the notes and personal artwork on the remembrance wall and looked at all the pictures of beloved dogs. But I didn't.
The happiness was actually overwhelming. Walking around the Chapel, with the light glowing through the stained glass windows, it was nearly impossible to feel an ounce of sadness.
There was no place for sadness due to the wagging tails and playful barks around every corner. When you're walking around lost in your own thoughts, and there are dogs bumping into you, licking at your hands, there is hardly room to shed tears.
I'm not sure what humans did to deserve dogs, but man, are we lucky.
We are also lucky to have a special place like Dog Chapel- a place where all pet owners can come remember their four-legged family members who've passed.
All images via Samantha Bubar.