In St. Johnsbury, Vermont, there’s an amazing 150 acre sanctuary for dogs and their humans called Dog Mountain, which features a place so unique in its loveliness, words cannot do it justice.
It’s called Dog Chapel, created by the late artist Stephen Huneck to serve as a place for people to grieve and even leave messages for their departed dogs. His widow, Gwen, now maintains the entire property, which is free and open to the public.
As soon as I found out about Dog Chapel, I knew I had to go and leave a message for the friends we lost in the fire, and for other Alta-Tollhaus dogs I felt a close connection with. So this morning, I got Batman in the car, bright and early, and we headed to the Chapel.
Below are the tributes I left for Alta-Tollhaus Maika, Allie, Heike, Verdae, Ivan and Odin. I will do a separate post on the adventures Batman and I had on Dog Mountain — this one is dedicated to remembering our lost friends.
I placed their photos around this stained glass window featuring a dog playing in the water because all A-T dogs love the water. There’s even a yellow ball in the window — perfect!
I put Maika and Odin together because Odin was Maika’s son. Also, he was just a puppy when he died, and I thought he might want to be near his mom.
Message to Maika:
Party Girl, the standard-bearer, the model,
Charming and loving and sweet,
We can’t believe you are gone,
And we will never forget you.
Message to Odin, Josie’s Perfect Puppy:
Dear Odin, you are so loved and will never be forgotten. You live forever in your momma’s heart. You don’t have to worry because Koda has come to take care of your boy, and to bring laughter back into your home. Run and dig free at the bridge, sweet puppy!
Message to Allie:
You were our favorite comedian, the class clown,
Mother of escape artists and goofballs,
The most expressive of faces, the sweetest of souls,
We see you unlatching gates at the bridge,
Your spirit lives on — whenever we laugh in good humor rather than sigh in exasperation,
That is your spirit lifting us.
I placed Ivan next to a heroic police dog named Mica that died of Lymphoma because Ivan was a hero dog to so many of us, and he was also a member of a police family.
In loving memory of Jack and Lynda’s Ivan, handsome champion, hero dog, and role model.
Finally, I said goodbye to all our friends that died in the fire. Rest in peace, sweet souls.
OH Jennie, bless you! This was wonderfully kind and thoughtful thing to do. It washed my face with tears. You posted their goodbye messages in the most perfect places. Thank you Stephen and Gwen Huneck for your generous gift to help us honor our best friends.
Oh Julie, I wish you could’ve been there. It was a truly moving experience.
Batman allowed me to grieve for about 2 minutes before getting bored and knocking over the dog sculptures. He always manages to pull me out of sadness, one way or the other.
What a wonderful and special, special tribute to each of these magnificent friends.. I’m sitting here with tears running down my face thinking of all the love we have poured into our dogs over the years, and how much more they give us. I hope to meet you someday and give you a big hug of thanks.
I hope we meet one day, too! I’m a hugger.
Thank you for doing this and including our beloved Ivan. It was a very thoughtful tribute in memory of these wonderful AT dogs.
Ivan was a silly, happy Allie son and we miss him so much.
Thank you for sharing Ivan with the rest of us. He was so very special, and I felt like I knew him through your posts. It was clear how much you and Jack loved him — thank you for letting the rest of us love him too.
What a beautiful place and a beautiful thing to do. It’s obvious a lot of thought went into the chapel, from the carved dog at the end of the pew to the stained glass windows. How touching to see so many pictures and stories of peoples’ beloved pets and what lovely tributes you left for the AT dogs.
That was a very touching post, I’m here recovering from a bad cold and just when I thought I was over the congestion I read this, now I’m all plugged up again. :(. It was very touching .
So moving Jennie. As Julie said, I shed more tears reading your touching tributes and seeing those beautiful faces in what must be a very special place.
How special and perfect. What an amazing group of people these dogs have brought together and even when gone they continue to heal and inspire. The tears are flowing but they are healing tears thanks to your special tribute. I hope someday to visit.
Irene says: “The tears are flowing but they are healing tears thanks to your special tribute.” to this I say Amen!
I would like to visit also we can make a side trip when go visit Beverly and Scott then Lynda and Jack.
What a beautiful tribute. Couldn’t help but also shed tears.
How incredibly beautiful and thoughtful is this? Thank you JK, you have described everyone of them so beautifully. This so touching.
Koda is wondering why I am crying, yet he continues to munch on his bully stick. Sigh.
Thank you for including Odin. <3<3
You and Odin helped lead me to Julie and Alta-Tollhaus, I will always be so thankful for that!
Jennie, after reading this I can barely see through the tears. What a thoughtful gesture to make these wonderful tributes to our dear beloved friends.
What a wonderful and heart felt tribute this is to all those amazing dogs. Thank you Jennie!
Dear Jennie, I can’t adequately express in words how touched I am with your amazing heart-felt tributes. The first time I read it…I could not stop crying…but I kept reading it over and over again. Every time I read it…it seemed to slightly ease my pain. Thank you Jennie from the bottom of my heart!
OK, now I’m crying!
Truly, no thanks are needed. It’s an honor being a part of this wonderful A-T family.
Jennie, big hugs to you! We are so blessed to have you be apart of our family. 🙂 Tiffany
Yep—what Tif said!
Jennie, I don’t think there could have been a better way to pay such a wonderful tribute to our dogs. Thank you so much for being such a vital part of this family. God bless you.
What a wonderful place this is and you made those most beautiful tribute. Thank you, Jennie
That was incredible Jennie. Thank you so much for doing that. It has been tough, experiencing the devastation first hand, and seeing something so thoughtful and unique like this that is obviously from the heart makes it easier. I would admit to tearing up but I’m a guy… so it must have been the onions.