EXPIRED: 01/07/10 – Stephen Huneck, 60, who loved dogs more than people, but loved people – especially those who loved dogs – enough to take his own life when he felt he let them down.
Huneck was a self taught folk artist whose paintings, sculptures and woodcut prints of Labradors and other dogs won him a worldwide fan base. As a dog lover and someone who shares my heart with a big mushy Lab, I can speak for many when I say the world will have a lot less tail wagging without Huneck in it.
Huneck, of St. Johnsbury, Vermont, committed suicide outside of his psychiatrists office. His business was affected by the economy and he was despondent after being forced to lay off employees says earlier.
“He cared about them and felt responsible for their welfare,” his wife said.
A native of Sudbury, Massachusetts, Huneck started out whittling wooden sculptures and later dog-themed furniture. He branched into books and started a series about his beloved Labrador retrievers, including “Sally Goes to the Beach,” “Sally Goes to the Farm” and “Sally Gets a Job.”
The success of this allowed him to create an artist studio and retreat he called Dog Mountain in Vermont, and from the wood harvested from that property he built a minuture version of a typical 19th-century church that dot Vermont’s landscape. Called The Dog Chapel, it was complete with vaulted ceilings and stained glass windows with images of dogs worked into them.
It became a mecca for doglovers, many of whom would come from all over the world to leave handwritten notes to their long-gone pets, where they remain. Unless, now, the chapel gets foreclosed on.
“Welcome all creeds, all breeds. No dogmas allowed,” read the sign outside.