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Remembering the Hunecks, creators of Dog Mountain - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Remembering the Hunecks, creators of Dog Mountain

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ST. JOHNSBURY, Vt. -

Tragedy has struck twice at a Northeast Kingdom tourist attraction.

Just three years after her husband took his own life -- Gwendolyn Huneck of Dog Mountain was found dead Sunday morning -- just before her 62nd birthday. But people in the kingdom hope the mountain's legacy will live on.

For 13 years Dog Mountain in St. Johnsbury has been a sort of heaven on earth for pet lovers.

"They made nationwide and worldwide news but they always made a point to promote that they were from St. Johnsbury," said Northeast Kingdom Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Darcie McCann.

McCann said visitors come from around the world to memorialize their dogs that have passed at the Dog Chapel and to visit Stephen Huneck's famous art gallery.

Huneck killed himself in 2010 and Sunday his wife Gwendolyn's body was found by an employee.  Police have yet to release a cause of death but McCann believes Gwendolyn Huneck died of a broken heart.

"Stephen's passing was incredibly tragic on a personal level for her. I think it was hard to go it alone," McCann said.

Gwen Huneck told Channel 3 News in 2011 that keeping the Mountain running without her husband was a challenge. Then she owed about $50,000 dollars in back taxes.  It's unclear if her financial situation ever improved.

"Selling artwork no matter how popular it is, in a recession is difficult," McCann said.  "I think she really tried and  was very passionate about maintaining Stephen's legacy."

Two terrible tragedies at a place that was built as a sanctuary for humans and their four legged friends.

"It's ironic that their artwork is so joyful and so whimsical and to have the both of them gone is really sad," McCann said.

Though Stephen's name is on the gallery, the art work, and the best-selling books; McCann hopes Gwen's legacy will live on.

"I would like Gwen not to be remembered in Stephen's shadow. She was funny, and sass, and independent and she was a lot of Stephen's success."

The future of Dog Mountain is uncertain. McCann says she hopes it will be able to stay open.   And colleagues and friends vowed to keep it going to honor the couple, who loved Dog Mountain so much.

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