Stephen Huneck (October 8, 1948 in Columbus, Ohio - January 7, 2010 in Littleton, New Hampshire) was an American wood carving artist, furniture maker, painter, and author. Most of his later artwork is composed of carvings of dogs. Stephan credited the change in his artwork to his dogs coming into the hospital and bringing him out of a long coma. The coma was caused by him falling down the stairs of his barn studio and hitting his head. He had to learn to read, walk and write again and changed the focus of his work to dogs...which Steve noted is God spelled backwards. Prior to this a lot of Stephen's work was devoted to social commentary. In addition to carvings, Huneck also wrote several children's books, the main character of which was his black Labrador Retriever, Sally. Huneck was originally from Sudbury, Massachusetts.
Before becoming an artist, Huneck lived for several years at Quarry Hill Creative Center, Rochester, Vermont, where he began to work in wood. He then became an antiques dealer. He was discovered in 1984 when he found a man pulling one of his carvings, an angel, out of the back of Huneck's pick-up truck. The man asked how much he wanted for the angel. Not intending to sell it and believing that the man wouldn't pay such a high price, Huneck told him that he wanted $1,000. The man revealed himself to be an art dealer from Manhattan and paid Huneck the money. Pieces of Huneck's artwork are in the permanent collections of the Smithsonian Institution, the Dog Museum of America and the American Kennel Club. Huneck received commissions for works from celebrities and politicians, including Sandra Bullock, Dr. Phil McGraw, and US Senator Patrick Leahy. Much of the basswood, cherry, maple and pine he worked with came from his farm.
In 1997, after a near death experience with acute respiratory distress syndrome, Huneck started work building a chapel dedicated to dogs. The Dog Chapel, which took three years to complete, is situated next to his studio in St. Johnsbury, Vermont. In addition to standard human sized doors, the chapel also has a dog door, carved wooden dogs lining the pews and dog themed stained glass windows. The inner walls are covered with remembrance notes and pictures of visitors' deceased canine pets.
Each year, Huneck and his wife, Gwen, held two gatherings known as the Dog Party and Dog Fest at his Dog Mountain studio. People brought their dogs for a day of relaxation. Contests were held for categories such as loudest bark, biggest/smallest dog, best dog kiss, etc. The dogs were let off their leashes and allowed to run free and play with other dogs.
Huneck was despondent over having to lay off employees in January 2010 and had been dealing with depression. On January 7, 2010, after driving to a psychiatrist's office in Littleton, New Hampshire, Huneck shot himself and died. He was 61 years old. After her husband's death, Gwen Huneck was the head of Dog Mountain until her death three and a half years later.