The chapel was created by the artist Stephan Huneck, and from the outside looks like a tiny version of a 19th century New England chapel one might find in the area. He wanted to create a space “that celebrated the spiritual bond we have with our dogs, and that would be open to dogs and people, people of any faith or belief system.” The sign outside the chapel says “All Creeds, All Breeds, No Dogmas Allowed.”
Inside your attention is drawn to the architectural elements as well as the personal elements within it. The stained glass windows have whimsical dog images, the benches are supported by lifesize dog sculptures, even details in the molding around the arch contain dog portraits. But quickly your attention goes to the thousands of pieces of paper tacked to the walls. These are notes, photos, sketches – all in remembrance of dogs that have passed on. They have been added in person by visitors, and mailed in from around the world. They are layers deep, and perusing them brings smiles and a few tears as one connects to the stories.
Outside the chapel is the 150 acre Dog Mountain, designed to be open for exploring by dogs and their owners. There is also a gallery with an amazing array of artwork by Stephan (who passed away a few years ago) in the form of books, prints, sculptures, and more, all in his signature charming style and all displaying the love he had for dogs and their ability to “make us human.”
The whole site is free and open to dogs, they are welcome in the chapel, in the gallery, on the grounds, all off-leash. Vida had a great time greeting people in the gallery! We went on a beautiful sunny day, and ate lunch overlooking a bucolic valley under the gaze of a dog angel weather vane and sculpted dog portraits atop Greek pedestals. Visiting dogs wandered at will, met each other, rested near their owners, and partook of their privileges with ease.
If you are a dog lover it is well worth a road trip to visit it in person.
They struggle financially, so even if you can’t visit you can help support this wonderful place through donating or purchasing items from their website, dogmt.com.
It provides a place of renewal, something I found in abundance as I stood within the chapel and felt the love people shared with their pets. It is this love that drives my work to help dogs. It is the same love that propels me to learn how to be a better guardian and companion to my own dog. It’s the love we all share that guides us to care as best we can for our canine family members for as long as they’re with us, and to continue to improve over the lifetimes of all the dogs that come into our lives, to do better by each one. In return we learn to do better by ourselves, and to care more for the other humans, animals, and plants on this planet that we share.
This coming weekend will bring the first of two herbal conferences I’ll be attending within a month – a busy time of learning and inspiration that can only multiply when combined with the inspiration of the Dog Chapel. Visiting Dog Mountain and the Dog Chapel was a joyful, heart-full, beautiful way to spend a summer afternoon. I highly recommend it for all the dog lovers of the world!