The Dog Chapel in Saint Johnsbury Vermont

The Dog Chapel

State: Vermont

Date: 07/29/16

There are certain places everyone should go. The Dog Chapel in St. Johnsbury Vermont is one of them.

In each state I visit, I have a list of top places that I want to see. The Dog Chapel was #1 on my list for good reason. It is a place to honor and remember our best friends who are no longer with us.

Before I began this trip I lost my best friend in the world. Buddy, a half pitbull half chow mutt who was my best friend in the world for 13 years.

My Buddy

Buddy’s Story

Back when I was in high school, our neighbors got this awesome puppy. However, they were not the kind of people who should own dogs. Every day I would get up for school and go say hi to Buddy, then put some food and water in his dishes because they were always empty. When winter hit, they would often leave him out even in the snow. My dad and I built him a dog house just so he could have a place to get out of the cold and he wasn’t even our dog.

One day I got home from school and noticed Buddy was in my neighbor’s car, so I asked:

“Where you taking him too?”

“Oh, we’re taking him to the pound. We really can’t take care of him anymore.”

“No kidding,” I thought.

“Hey, I’ll save you a trip. I’ll take him,” I said.

I remember walking him up to our new house and there really wasn’t a discussion about whether I could keep him, it was just supposed to be. Buddy was my dog and ever since he kept trying to get through the fence to our yard, my parents knew it too.

Buddy was the kind of dog that acted dumb, but was actually really smart. The first Thanksgiving we had him, my mom was in the kitchen getting everything ready and said:

“Alright everybody, grab your plate and come dish up.”

Buddy grabbed a plate off of the table and went into the kitchen. From then on, Buddy got his own plate on Thanksgiving.

Buddy got cancer in 2014 and I had to say goodbye to my best friend who I knew half of my life. It was one of the hardest moments of my life, but I will see him again one day by the bacon tree.

However, till then there are two ways I honor Buddy:

Recognize the Bandanna?

The first is that I wear Buddy’s Bandanna as I travel. It’s my way of taking him with me wherever I go.

The second is to share Buddy’s story, which is why the Dog Chapel was #1 on my list.

Wall of Remembrance inside the Dog Chapel
Wall of Remembrance inside the Dog Chapel

Inside the dog Chapel, it’s¬†filled with notes and stories honoring the memory of many people’s best friends. I added a note and shared Buddy’s story in the sign in sheet.

The Dog Chapel started with a man by the name of Steven Huneck. He became a renowned folk artist and his subject:

Stephen Huneck's Artwork
Steven Huneck’s Artwork

Steven Huneck got his inspiration for the dog chapel from a tragedy. In an accident that put him in a coma for months with little hope of recovery, he came out of it and with it the inspiration for the Dog Chapel. A place to lessen the pain of the loss of a beloved dog and friend. A place to honor their memory.

Steven Huneck¬†painted, sculpted, and written many books on dogs. His work is on display right next to the Dog Chapel in the Steven Huneck Gallery. If you’re lucky, you’ll get to meet Pam and Willa, two of the caretakers who gave me the full history of the Dog Chapel and told me about the dog trails that surround the property.

I ended up hiking all of the trails and felt what the dogs must feel…pure joy. I watched as dogs ran through the meadows, splashed in the ponds, and smiled with their whole head.

The Dog Chapel is truly a sacred place that everyone who has ever had a furry best friend should go too.

If you want to help keep the Dog Chapel open for all to see, visit their website and donate:

The Dog Chapel is a nonprofit and your contribution helps keep this wonderful place open for the furry and non-furry alike.

Also you can buy some of Steven Huneck’s artwork or books to help as well. Visit their website to see more of Steven’s art and books:

Happiness is good memories with a furry friend.

Forever your friend,

~The Outsider

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