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Beloved Artist Stephen Huneck Dies
Economy, depression may have fueled suicide
Hudson chills with friends by Stephen Huneck.

“The dog is a gentleman; I hope to go to his heaven, not man’s.”  -- Mark Twain
I have a rug by Stephen Huneck in my bedroom. It shows one dog pulling a boat, with other dogs inside it, through the water. It says “Friendship” and indicates that we can pull each other through anything.
Unfortunately, no one could pull Huneck through his recent tragedy. Sadly for all in the dog world, and non-dog people, too, celebrated dog artist Huneck, 60, of St. Johnsbury, Vt., took his own life early on Jan. 8. He had apparently been battling with depression for a long time. His wife cites the downfall in the economy as a factor, including the fact that Huneck had to let approximately half his employees go recently. It made the tragedy even worse in that he shot himself outside his psychiatrist's office, just a few feet from possible help.
Huneck’s talent was to depict everyday concepts using dogs as the players. His prints, rugs, notecards and furniture were sometimes straightforward, sometimes naughty and always witty. He warmed our hearts with prints such as “A Day at the Beach” and tickled us with those such as “Menage Trois.” He had a great understanding of modern culture and of the dog mind, too.
Huneck was no stranger to the concept of death, opening the acclaimed Dog Chapel for people to come remember their pets who had passed. Huneck also credited his choice to pursue his artwork to a near-death-experience years ago.
I feel certain Huneck has gone to his concept of Dog Heaven, “Welcome all creeds, all breeds. No dogmas allowed,” as it says at the Dog Chapel. He must also wear the golden wings he so often depicted in his prints. And now he has inspiration for more “heavenly” subjects, such as dogs chasing a dogcatcher ’round the Elysian Fields.

Kelly Modzelewski is a pet writer based in the Boston-metro-area. She lives with her three Pit Bulls and one neurotic cat.

Photo by Kelly Modzelewski.

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Submitted by Anonymous Dog | January 10 2010 |

What a lovely tribute. He brought so much joy to so many

Submitted by Tamara Jackson | January 10 2010 |

What a sad tale and a lovely eulogy to his memory. I am going to go get my "Sally Goes to the Vet" off the shelf and read it to the kids tonight. RIP

Submitted by Moredogs | January 11 2010 |

I am so very sorry that we have lost such a warm and talented man. At least his art will live on to give us joy.

Submitted by JoAnna | January 12 2010 |

I was heartbroken when I found out about Stephen Huneck. I am a huge fan of his artwork and his chapel is so inspiring. Hopefully, they'll be able to keep the chapel open. It's been on my list of things to see.

Submitted by F. Gaeta | January 13 2010 |

What sad news. His work always put a smile on my face. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and I hope the Dog Chapel stays; it was such a labor of love for him so everyone could have a beautiful and peaceful place to remember departed loved pets. The Dog Chapel is on my "bucket list" to visit someday...

Submitted by Judith Vander Weg | January 13 2010 |

It is a tragedy to lose this wonderful artist. Huneck's humor and complete understanding of the dogs we love was apparent in every work. I have both received and given his book about the Dog Chapel to friends who were grieving for their furry loved ones. The same is true for Huneck's Flying Dogs - which are sweet little angels who bring a smile and a memory. My condolences.

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