Friday, September 2, 2011

How to be a Tourist with Your Dog Series: Destination "Dog Mountain" in Vermont

We were quite excited to see this week's "How to Be a Tourist With your Dog" post showing a unique dog-destination in Vermont. Read about artist-created "Dog Mountain", its fantastic annual dog party, and the reflective "Dog Chapel" covered with letters--the only of its kind in the world. Though sadly, this free refuge for dogs and owners has fallen on some hard times. Read the complete story, contributed by Nan, below:
P.S. Nan was the first person in real-life I ever knew who owned a pit bull!
While planning my recent trip to Vermont I decided to peruse travel books and magazines to help me find some unique adventures because I had been to Vermont many times before.  I picked up a copy of Yankee magazine and was intrigued by an article called “Retrospective” about a Vermont artist whose subject matter was dogs.  Stephen Huneck, the artist, created Dog Mountain… 150 acres of trails and ponds for dog lovers to have fun with and bond with their pets and “Dog Chapel,” on the grounds, for owners who had lost their beloved pets to find closure and healing.  When I realized that the annual Dog Party at Dog Mountain was taking place weekend I was going to be in the area I knew the  drive to the Northeast Kingdom (as this northern part of Vermont is called) was going to be worth it. 
When I arrived many dogs were already racing around with wild abandon and others were jumping into one of the ponds chasing balls and each other.  This was definitely not the “show up fashionably late” crowd, but rather the ”let’s get this party started” attendees.  It was so funny to note the similarities in the dogs’ behavior to children’s at a birthday party…running up with an exuberant greeting trying to get a game going and then running off with tail and tongue wagging to the next adventure (ok, so maybe the similarities end at the tails). The acreage is at the end of a long, dirt road so there was no risk of traffic and dog parents seemed very much at ease enjoying their dog’s freedom.
 The chapel was a mixture of reflections and sadness, but also joy and smiles.  The dogs running in and out looking for their owners and each other certainly helped to keep the atmosphere light.  The messages on the walls are touching and I was surprised by the tears that unexpectedly rolled down my cheeks.  I didn’t see anyone else crying, so I quickly put on my sunglasses, but in the gallery a little while later a man told the sales person he never comes to the chapel without crying. 
Certainly, most of the day was spent laughing at the dog antics, the parade and the contests, but one sad note is that Dog Mountain is having financial difficulties. When the economy took a downturn and Stephen and Gwen, his wife, had to let employees go, Stephen went into a deep depression.  It ended with him taking his life and Gwen left to cope with the business and bills alone.  Gwen would like to keep Dog Mountain open and free for people and their dogs to enjoy, just as Stephen had envisioned it would be for many years to come. Ironically, one of the last prints Stephen was working on was titled “Bring Your Dog To Vermont”.  The full story can be read on their website:  www.dogmt.com.
 I purchased two small prints while I was there, hoping to contribute to a better financial outlook.  There were no pushy sales tactics and the woman I spoke to about the Two Pitties in the City blog I was going to submit the pictures to seemed genuinely grateful.  She did remind me that they are the only Dog Chapel in the world. You and your dog might want to see it for yourself, especially if you can make the annual party.     

We would like to wrap up our contest and have all posts submitted by September 16.
And as an added incentive, Sirius Republic is donating 2 collars and we will have a random drawing of all the submitted 'How to Be a Tourist with Your Dog' posts to have 2 collar winners. Winners can chose from a standard collar, or an 'Adopt Me' collar to promote your foster or adoptable dog as modeled by Levi. Not only does Sirius Republic have amazing collar designs, but we love how they are so dedicated to supporting the pitbull community, and Jennifer even rescued her own Elderbull!
And we will still be donating money to the rescue of choice for the 2 posts with the most comments.

In case you missed them, you can also read our other Tourist with Your Dog posts showcasing New York City, Austin, Florida, Portland, Richmond, Seattle,  Kansas City, Nashville, Alaska, and Chicago. And you can read about roadtripping with 4 large dogs, boating to the Bahamas with a pit bull, specific tips for roadtripping with a large dog (NYC to rural Tennessee), and Chicago Dogs Sidetrip to Harbor County

20 comments:

Alison said...

Obviously I have to comment on the VT post! In Vermont I think we sometimes take dog-friendly for granted (as in, "is there any other way to be?"). We're incredibly lucky that way, and Dog Mountain is an amazing place that epitomizes VTs love of pooches.

Awesome post.

The Other Winnie Cooper and Sharona, the world's most beautiful pitbull

Froggy said...

Umm I think I found my next vacation. This looks AMAZING. I dont think I could take my own pups but that's just fine I wouldn't mind hanging with other peoples pups instead! Wow what a wonderful place.

Tucker The Crestie said...

Had no idea there was such a place - it sounds amazing. How sad that it has fallen on such hard times.

loveandaleash said...

it's like a little piece of doggie heaven -- this is beautiful! thanks for sharing :)

Pibble said...

What a great place! I would definitely consider this as a destination! St. Johnsbury is only about five hours from here...

Mr. Pip said...

Sounds like an amazing place, but what a tragic ending for Stephen.

Your pal, Pip

Wyatt said...

I have read about Dog Mountain before, sounds like a wonderful place. We need to get back to Vermont.
I just saw that you visited Portland!! How did we miss that. Glad you had a good time :)

Wyatt and Stanzie

Patty said...

Wow what an amazing place! I wish I lived out east so I could go visit.

Kitty+Coco said...

Gosh, that is an awesome place! Wouldn't it be great if we all could get behind Gwen and help keep this place going.

Kitty+coco

Corbin said...

I'm not that far from VT, so I might have to check this out! How awesome!
-Corbin

Cris said...

What a great post! Very touching, hope their luck turns around soon.

Pauley, the Mr. or the Mrs. said...

What a wonderful place! We could not help but tear up when we saw the inside of the dog chapel. Praying that things improve for Gwen & that she is able to continue her husband's dream.

Kristine said...

Dog Mountain sounds like a dream come true! What an amazing spot! If only all areas could embrace the canine lifestyle in such a fun way. It's also good to know as Vermont is one of the states closest to us. We could potentially take a drive one day.

I am so glad you are still putting on this series! Due to poor weather I wasn't able to get out to get photographs of my city until last weekend and I was still hoping to put something together. I will get it to you ASAP!

brooke said...

I want to go there! This sounds like an amazing place! I don't know how anyone could walk into that chapel and not shed a few tears. Im teary just looking at the pictures of the notes inside.
What a sad story though about Stephen. I hope Dog Mountain is able to stay open!

houndstooth said...

I've heard of Dog Mountain, and I remember feeling overwhelmingly sad when I learned that he'd committed suicide. I very much hope that the chapel will stay open for a long time to come!

We're fans of Sirius Republic collars here, too!

Two Pitties in the City said...

We really loved reading about Dog Mountain, and it really spurred me to do some more research and read more about it. I love the vision set out by the owners, and it is so tragic that it has reached financial difficulties. And I agree with Brooke, I too became a bit teary seeing all the letters lining the walls of the chapel. Thanks for submitting this really unique post!

parlance said...

What a sad story about Dog Mountain. It must be a beautiful place, and I hope it can be saved.

Roo said...

Very interesting tour. Hope Dog Mountain will be able to pull through these tough times and be around for many more years to come. A very special place! Looks like the dogs were sure having a blast at the party :)

Waggin at ya,
Roo

Kari in Vegas said...

what an awesome sounding place

Kari
http://dogisgodinreverse.com

Annie & Paul's Mom said...

Wow, this sounds like an amazing place!!! Here's hoping that everything works out financially!

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