Stephen Huneck (October 8, 1948 – January 7, 2010), was an American wood carving artist, furniture maker, painter, and author. Most of his artwork is composed of carvings of dogs. 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 was 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 Bernhard, 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 held a gathering known as 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 60 years old.