Illustration Graham Roumieu
Becky Hoyt’s path to Dog Mountain began when her copy of Dog Fancy magazine fell to the floor, opening to an ad for a dog party.
“I had just been thinking, ‘Darn, I want to take a vacation with just my dog!’” Hoyt says.
Which is how she happens to find herself on a mountainside farm in St. Johnsbury with her retriever, Sway, and hundreds of other revelers—Scotties, bulldogs, and a 165-pound Great Dane named Max among them—who’ve gathered for artist Stephen Huneck’s twice-yearly celebration of man’s best friend.
The forest around the mountain is lit with blazing autumn colors. Dozens of dogs splash in the pond and chase sticks, tennis balls and one another around the farm in wild packs. They burst through the door of the gallery where Huneck sits.
Gwen, his wife, edges past a Bernese mountain dog. “There’s delicious cake, everyone!” she calls out.
Huneck signs books of his dog-oriented woodcuts for attendees. He points to a small wooden building nearby. “I built a dog chapel for people to go and remember their dogs that have passed,” he says.
Later in the day, there are contests: Best Dancer, Best Kisser. Huneck crowns Sway and Hoyt, both strawberry blondes, Most Lookalike Couple.
A black lab noses a garbage can behind the barbecue pit and tips it over. He plunges into a pile of hot dog scraps. A permissive crowd watches until the pit master shoos the dog—though not too fast. It is, after all, his day. —LIZ LEYDEN