june blog 2023
Barney's Journey Continues...
I had never been to Vermont before.
A dear friend of mine asked me one day if I had ever been to
Dog Mountain in St. Johnsbury, Vermont.
Not only had I never traveled
to Vermont before, but Dog Mountain?
I quickly Googled up "Dog Mountain"
to find that it was a place
to good to be true!!
The web site says that "Dog Mountain is set on 150 acres on a mountain top location in St. Johnsbury, Vermont. The grounds are always open to people and their dogs. This unspoiled haven is covered with hiking trails and dog ponds. Dogs are not just welcome here, they are cherished!" That was so inviting to me. A place that you can take your dog to run free. Amazing...Simply amazing!
But, the "greatest thing since sliced bread" to me was when I learned that on the grounds situated on the top of a hill is a chapel. Now, this chapel is unlike any other chapel I had ever been to. Built by hand, by artist Stephen Huneck, it's a chapel that Stephen considered his "greatest and most personal artistic contribution. In 2000, the Dog Chapel was introduced to the world as a symbol of peace, love, and remembrance. In the more than 20 years since, it has been transformed into a living piece of communal art and history, ever-evolving with each new note and photo pinned to the overflowing walls. The Chapel has become a unique and moving physical embodiment of the unending love people have to give." The most unique and remarkable part of the Dog Chapel on Dog Mountain are the many dogs that are a part of the chapel. There are dogs in the stained glass windows, the pews have dogs intricately carved out of wood. There's even a dog weather vane on the steeple of the Chapel.
Stephen and his wife, Gwendolyn had a mission and a vision...After Stephen passed away his wife Gwendolyn wrote this touching love letter which appears on the Dog Mountain website. It reads:
"Stephen first wrote The Dog Chapel Mission Statement in 1997, when the Dog Chapel was merely an inspiration in his mind's eye. In 2000, against all odds, Stephen’s dream came true. In 2000, he revised his mission statement and explained what had inspired him to conceive and eventually build The Dog Chapel. Stephen often said, “Dream Without Limits,” and dream he did. The Dog Chapel’s walls are now covered with thousands upon thousands of Remembrances of Dogs Loved and Lost. It is a tremendously moving sight.
I believe Stephen accomplished what he set out to do with flying colors! He wanted to help us honor animals as the feeling, spiritual beings they are and to also help us all find closure and healing. The Dog Chapel is a tranquil, sacred space to meditate with your dog as well.
WELCOME ALL CREEDS, ALL BREEDS, NO DOGMAS ALLOWED!
Let’s not forget Stephen’s other dream for Dog Mountain. That it be a place where hundreds of dogs and people could find Joy, Love, and Friendship by hiking the miles of trails, enjoying the swimming pond for dogs and the breathtaking views. He wanted everyone to take a break and allow themselves to be silly, playful and childlike (of course that comes naturally to dogs and children!).
Smell the flowers! Breathe the air! Listen to the songbirds. It is splendid to be out in Nature on our own little piece of heaven.
IN STEPHEN’S HONOR AND MEMORY, AND WITH YOUR HELP, I PLEDGE TO KEEP THE DOG CHAPEL AND DOG MOUNTAIN OPEN AND FREE FOR ALL TO ENJOY, ESPECIALLY DOGS, FOREVER.
With love and gratitude, Gwendolyn Huneck
Invited by the producers of the PBS Show that Dagger was featured on
("Shelter Me- The Art of Kindness"), Denis, Barney and I journeyed up to Dog Mountain in St. Johnsbury, Vermont, this past Memorial Day Weekend. In one word, it was "AMAZING." It's a little bit of heaven right here on earth. Sacred, peaceful and joyful. Driving up the dirt road to the mountain, we began to see dogs frolicking freely all over the place. There was laughing and crying all at the same time going on. Because, you see, the Dog Chapel is where folks leave photos. drawings, tributes and notes to the dogs and pets that have passed. Some people, we've since learned. scatter their beloved's ashes on the grounds where they once frolicked for years. That's the only sad part of Dog Mountain. But people can cry there and never feel judged or shame for feeling so deeply grief stricken by the loss of their pet.
Before we entered Dog Chapel, I thought I would weep like a baby, but instead a peace and warmth enveloped me. Perhaps seeing all of the dogs running and having fun when we first arrived helped my grief. As we gazed at all of the layers and layers of photos and notes left by people, Denis and I thought about all of the lives scotch taped and pinned to the walls of Dog Chapel. Each had a history, a family, a life filled with love. There was love that permeated those walls. It was truly breathtaking. An awesome moment, for sure!. When the time came that we had to leave our tribute to Dagger DogVinci, it was a bit painful, I must admit. We left one of Dagger's red berets, photos of him, a sketch I created of him and 2 notes...one from Denis the other from me. Reflecting on Dagger's life at Dog Chapel was in a sense healing for us. Nothing will ever take away the grief that we still feel after losing him, but the grief was eased by this act of leaving a part of how special he was to us and meeting other "like" minded people who shared the same feelings as we do. Some people say that "Dog Mountain is the happiest place to be sad."
Barney was such a good boy on the trip. He's a wonderful travel buddy to Denis and I. He LOVED Dog Mountain especially playing with the dogs that worked there. He became fast friends with Honey and Maggie Mae pet dogs to Creative Director Amanda McDermott and Pam the wonderful Greeter.
Dog Mountain is a very special place.
I encourage you to go and experience it for yourselves.
It's truly a slice of heaven on earth.
Barney will be featured in the show that was filmed at Dog Mountain.
The PBS producers of the show "Shelter Me,"
Steven Latham and Conrad Stanley,
are hopeful that it will be premiering this fall.
As Barney Dagger's Journey continues!!
Happy Tales to you,
May 2023 Blog
Grateful and Blessed
Timid and shy, Barney, entered our lives.
We needed him and he needed us!
Being the curious person that I am...I was interested to learn as much of a back story about Barney as I possibly could. Of course, before he was found scrounging and wandering the streets of Georgia, his story is not known. Only Barney knows that story and without a voice we can only assume what happened to him and why. What we do know is that he may have been harshly treated which is why he cowers down when he sees a newspaper and many other objects. That makes me feel sad and angry, too! So, from the streets of Calhoun, Georgia he started his journey to becoming a New Yorker! We are happy for us! In the next paragraphs I will attempt to tell his story from the time he was picked up until he arrived to his forever loving home with us!!
Barney's story goes back to Haralson County Shelter in Georgia. Their Facebook page describes them in this way... "Our Shelter is run by Haralson County Animal Control. Most of the animals in our care are picked up as strays by the Animal Control Officers who respond to citizen calls. We use this" (Facebook) "page to let the community know what animals are in the shelter, either looking for their owner, or looking for a new family." I have since learned that the Haralson County Animal Control keeps the strays for approximately 3 days during which they are either picked up by their owners or another shelter pulls them out. It just so happened that no-one came to reclaim Barney. And so Barney's fate was that he would be euthanized if someone didn't take him. The shelter then reached out to other shelters to see if they would be interested in him. Down in the Southeast and Southwest of the USA, dogs run the streets and are abandoned, dumped and destroyed all of the time. It's such a shame. When a Foster Shelter named "Paw Angels" in Calhoun, Georgia learned about Barney, they took him into their care. I was told that Barney spent about a week there. Paw Angels is a 501(c)(3) foster based shelter. From there, Barney was taken to live with a wonderful woman named Chris McCormick. Chris fosters rescues and sends them to a shelter called Forgotten Friends of Long Island (FFLI). Chris McCormick was the kind intermediary that took Barney and cared for him from August 2022 until his arrival in New York on April 15th, 2023. Barney became part of her family "pack" of dogs. She grew to love Barney. At the time Barney's name was Patriot or Pate (I was told that the shelter that picks up the strays usually names the dogs they take in. In Barney's case the Haralson County Animal Shelter most likely named him). As time went on Barney grew closer and closer to Chris and her pet dogs. But, Chris knew that Barney was being reserved for Forgotten Friends so, she opened her heart again and helped make arrangements to have Barney aka Patriot/Pate transported to a truck stop in New Jersey where Barney would meet Beth Marzo the President of FFLI and Lynda Lack the Vice President of FFLI. Before Barney was transported, Beth asked Denis and I if we would foster Barney for FFLI with the hopes of adopting him. We agreed to foster Barney. At first I thought maybe I wasn't ready for another dog. I was still so sad about Dagger's passing. But, Beth needed us to help her out with Barney. Chris made arrangements to have Barney groomed. He got a bath and was a complete sweetheart throughout the whole process. Chris was sad the day she had to say goodbye to Barney. She cried as she loaded him into the crate on the transporter. The transporters that travel up to the Northeast of the USA are loaded with crates piled on top of one another with dogs in each one. The dogs are scared and unsure of where they are going. Barking, crying and whining, the dogs travel for hours from one truck stop to another. Barney was on the transporter which left from Georgia at 6AM EDT Friday until Saturday at 3PM EDT.
Forgotten Friends of Long Island (FFLI) is a wonderful small animal rescue and rehabilitation center. They are near and dear to our hearts. Located right here on Long Island, New York, Dagger was a devoted Fundraiser for them and even had his first ever Painting Demonstration at their event in November of 2015. With over 100 eager attendees painting at their own workstations, they watched in amazement as a dog painted for them. The event was a huge success. In Dagger's Honor and Legacy, Barney will continue Fundraising for this fabulous Rescue and Rehabilitation Shelter, Forgotten Friends of Long Island.
Currently, Barney is getting and giving a lot of TLC. He is very smart and eager to please. Like Dagger, he loves to work. I know Barney feels as successful while working as Dagger did. Barney is just like Dagger in that respect. Currently, he's learning his name and some very basic commands. We are going slowly with Barney since he does get scared at times because we feel he was treated harshly by his previous owners.
Barney is a special boy.
I just know that Barney's journey will be an exciting adventure!! We plan to take him on a road trip
to Dog Mountain, Vermont at the end of May.
We are looking forward to enjoying our first road trip with him.
It should be a real HOWL of a trip!!
...To Be Continued...
Happy Tales to you!
To all of the Mom's, Grandma's human and furry...
Happy Mother's Day!!
April 2023 Blog
a wonderful talented lady
In closing, I asked Ronnie what message she would like to convey
to all of Dagger's fans and family.
She said so eloquently that,
"God gives every human being talent. Whether that talent is in music, crafts, painting, writing, teaching and on and on.
The key is to NEVER EVER GIVE UP.
To always look for something better!
Continuing, she said,
"We are like sponges soaking up all that we can.
I always look at the glass half full.
I can pick up my knitting needles and feel good about myself.
It's important to be grateful...always."
Let me know what it is.
Write to me. I'd love to hear about it!!
Happy Tales to you,
AND To all who celebrate...
Happy Easter and Happy Passover!
March 2023 Blog
Looking back on my life with Dagger, he did just that. He was this little four long-legged fur baby that didn't even know how super special he was. Making people happy and content was all,
I believe, he ever wanted in life.
And in return all he wanted were treats, belly rubs,
and to feel successful.
I leave you with this message...
You may see some signs from the people and animals who've made your world a better place.
They are the angels and saints in your life.
Tell me about them in the comments below.
I'd love to hear your stories.
You are all so very special to me. I hold your love, your concern, your prayers and your thoughts about me
and my family in my heart forever.
joy, kindness, and love.
Ragan, Lyn: "Signs From Pets In The Afterlife," page 87
February Blog 2023
Here are a few suggestions to help you cope:
- Acknowledge your grief and give yourself permission to express it.
- Don't hesitate to reach out to others who can lend a sympathetic ear. Do a little research online and you'll find hundreds of resources and support groups that may be helpful to you.
- Write about your feelings, either in a journal or a poem, essay, or short story.
- Call your veterinarian or local humane society to see whether they offer a pet-loss support group or hotline, or can refer you to one.
- Prepare a memorial for your pet.
The loss of a pet may be a child's first experience with death. The child may blame themself, their parents, or the veterinarian for not saving the pet. And they may feel guilty, depressed, and frightened that others they love may be taken from them.
Trying to protect your child by saying the pet ran away could cause your child to expect the pet's return and feel betrayed after discovering the truth. Expressing your own grief may reassure your child that sadness is ok and help them work through their feelings.
Coping with the loss of a pet can be particularly hard for seniors. Those who live alone may feel a loss of purpose and an immense emptiness. A pet's death may also trigger painful memories of other losses and remind caregivers of their own mortality. What's more, the decision to get another pet is complicated by the possibility that the pet may outlive the caregiver and that the decision to get another pet hinges on the person's physical and financial ability to care for a new pet.
For all these reasons, it's critical that senior pet owners take immediate steps to cope with their loss and regain a sense of purpose.
If you are a senior, try interacting with friends and family, calling a pet-loss support hotline, even volunteering at a local humane society.
Surviving pets may whimper, refuse to eat or drink, and suffer lethargy, especially if they had a close bond with the deceased pet. Even if they were not the best of friends, the changing circumstances and your emotional state may distress them. (However, if your remaining pets continue to act out of sorts, there could actually be a medical problem that requires your veterinarian's attention.)
Give surviving pets lots of TLC and try to maintain a normal routine. It's good for them and for you.
Getting another pet
Rushing into this decision isn't fair to you or your new pet. Each animal has their own unique personality and a new animal cannot replace the one you lost. You'll know when the time is right to adopt a new pet after giving yourself time to grieve, considering whether you're ready, and paying close attention to your feelings.
When you're ready, remember that your local animal shelter or rescue is a great place to find your next special friend."
I've also felt the love and kindness that has been expressed to us by so many people. It's been incredible....to say the least! The outpouring of love, sympathy and condolences has helped in so many ways with our grief. We received phone calls from people from all over the world, articles written about Dagger and his incredible life, an ABC 7 Eyewitness News Segment hosted by Brittany Bell about Dagger's passing, cards, flowers from so many people including a gorgeous arrangement of white roses from Rachael Ray, plants, cookies, a photo album filled with pictures of Dagger from the time he was born until now, plaques, ornaments, sun catchers, a blanket filled with photos of Dagger's life. a wind chime...and so much more.
We are so very grateful to everyone for everything!!!
Each was a expression of the love they all have for Dagger.
And each meant the world to us!
Someone once said that when we love our pets, we open our hearts to a life full of joy and when we have to say good bye we welcome them into our hearts to live there forever.
"The risk of love is loss, and the price of loss is grief. But the pain of grief is only a shadow when compared with the pain of never risking love.”
But, I do know one thing's for sure..
Dagger's message of Kindness, Hope and Love
will live on in me and through me.
Dagger and I always lived life organically. We treated it with the saying, "whatever happens, if it's for the good of others, let's take a chance,
try our best, and make it happen."
I'm planning to do just that!
Happy january 2023
our Words Count
"There's an old joke that says,
'It took me two years to learn how to talk
and the rest of my life learning when to shut up.'
written by Don Miguel Ruiz.
The Four Agreements are:
1. "Be Impeccable with Your Word"
2. "Don't Take Anything Personally"
3. "Don't Make Assumptions"
4. "Always Do Your Best"
"Be Impeccable With Your Word.". When Ruiz speaks of being "Impeccable With Your Word" he concentrates on what we say and how our words can impact the outcome of any situation. Ruiz says that "It sounds simple, but it is very, very powerful...Why your word? Your word is the power that you have to create." He goes on to say that, "Your word is the gift that comes directly from God. The Gospel of John in the Bible, speaking of the creation of the universe, says, 'In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word is God." (25-26) When I read that I was curious to learn more about how we can use our words in a way that helps rather than hinders..
It's not easy. I know. But, it is possible,
I'm going to try.
Happy, Healthy, Blessed New Year!
Happy tales to you,
Excerpts taken from:
The Four Agreements
Don Miguel Ruiz
December 2022 Blog
"The Dog that paints from his heart"
Written by Yvonne Dagger
Illustrated by Olivia Menghini
Umm...On second thought...maybe, just maybe I can.
When Dagger does his painting demonstrations and workshops people witness his charisma. It makes my heart sing to see how he brings out the best in everyone he meets. I was always asked at our workshops, why I haven't written a children's book about Dagger yet. My response was always, "Me??? Oh, not me...That's for someone else to do." Then when the pandemic kept us all isolated, our DogVinci Workshops and in-person meetings came to a screeching halt. Suddenly, I had the time to think about what all of these great people were prompting me to do while we were traveling from library to library and school to school sharing Dagger's talent. It was then that I began to think about the prospect of a children's book about Dagger. Should I write a book? I'm not sure if I can, I thought. As time past, I began to feel the need more and more to write about my amazing dog. I thought that it would also be a great legacy to leave for everyone. As my creative prowess emerged, my first thought was, "Wow, There's so much to say about Dagger's journey so far." I reached out to educators and family for their guidance. Coming up with a beginning, a middle, and an end was one of the hardest things for me to do. So, I've started writing about his life which is pretty interesting. I knew that illustrating was not my expertise, so I was fortunate to locate a wonderful illustrator for the book. For months now we've been working tirelessly on this creative endeavor. I'm still in the writing stage.
that needs to shine for all to see.
Let your light shine!
Your light will then encourage someone else's light to shine,
Have a Happy and Blessed Holiday Season!!
Be well and stay safe!
Happy tales to you,
November 2022 Blog
Many years ago, a dear friend of mine and I were talking about holidays.
I asked him what his favorite holiday was.
He said, "Without a doubt..."Thanksgiving!!"
"Why?", I asked.
our hearts become open to a spirit of compassion and forgiving.
It's good to be mindful of them all...that tends to make us happy.
How can we do that??? This is what I came up with...
I'm sure you have many of your own😊
- Take a moment to stop and look around. I've found that if I stop and look around concentrating on the beauty of the flowers, clouds, blue sky, people, animals and especially Dagger I am keenly aware of the blessings that surround me everyday.
- Reflect on the ways we are a blessing to others by being kind
- Reach out to others with random acts of kindness.
- Think about your gifts and talents. Write them down and be proud of each and every one of them, Even the small ones!
- Remember you are Awesome!! Be extra thankful for the gift of YOU!
- Whether we're gathering in person with family and/or friends
- A quick phone call to a friend or family member miles away can make someone's Thanksgiving Day memorable. I know it does mine!!
- Three little words, "Thinking of YOU," can mean the world to a person who is spending the holiday alone for Thanksgiving.
- Even a joyful Text has always made my Thanksgiving day special.
So many of us have a recipe or contribution we take to our
What's yours? Please share it with me in a post below...
This year I found a recipe that I've been modifying as my own.
It's my version of Pumpkin Bread...
I've been testing it on many people. Everyone seems to like it. I'd like to share to with you. Below is the recipe.
Cook Time: 35-45 minutes
2 Cups whole wheat white flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups pumpkin puree (NOT PUMPKIN PIE FILLING)
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup melted butter
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 eggs beaten
1. Grease two 2- 4"x8" loaf glass Pyrex pans with olive oil spray
and line with parchment paper.
2. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees or 325 degrees for convection oven.
3. Whisk all dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, allspice, and salt) together in one bowl. Set aside.
4. In a separate bowl whisk to combine the wet ingredients (Pumpkin puree, unsweetened applesauce, honey, melted butter, extra virgin olive, vanilla extract, and eggs).
5. Add the wet ingredients (pumpkin mixture) to the dry ingredients (flour mixture). Mix just until combined. DO NOT over mix!
6. Pour batter equally into prepared pans.
7. Bake for 35-40 minutes. After 35 minutes, check with toothpick (the toothpick should come out clean when inserted in center of loaf) …if toothpick does not come out clean put back in oven for another 5-10 minutes. This baking process depends on your oven.
8. Allow bread to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing it from pans and transfer to a wire rack until completely cool.
Happy, Healthy Thanksgiving from my family to yours.
May you feel blessed.
May you know that you are a blessing.
May you enjoy nature's bountiful blessings!
Happy Tales to you,
October 2022 Blog
🍁 Change 🍁
Never the less...They're all changes.
I encountered the biggest change I had ever experienced in my life on October 20,2019. My identical twin sister, Yolande, passed away after a long brave battle with cancer. During my life as a twin, I remember people asking me what it felt like to be a twin. My answer was always, "I don't know any other way of describing my twin-ship.I've never not been a twin...." When people saw us together they could see identical features, mannerisms and voices. Yet, we were mirror twins which meant that we were in many ways very different. Yolande was more scientific and I'm more creative. Fast forward to now and I am very well aware of how it feels having been a twin and the feeling of not being a twin any longer...It's like losing a part of you. A part that was with me for 68 years...not to mention the time we spent together being created in our mom's womb. It hasn't been easy accepting this change in my life. There are times when I just want to pick up the phone and tell Yolande about some wonderful news about Dagger's life or just get in the "DogVinci" mobile and visit her with Dagger. Then I realize that she's not here any longer. Miraculously, many moments during these empty times, I feel her presence overwhelm me. I feel a sense of peace which enters my body.
I can picture her saying to me, "I'm okay...if you're okay💕" That's how we always coexisted. If one of us was stressed and hurting the other felt it. I think that's why I feel at peace with her "new life" in Heaven with the Lord. I know that she's okay which makes me feel okay.
1. Plan ahead. If you know change is on the horizon, do some prep work...
2. Reframe your thinking. Figure out what's going on in your mind when you're feeling sad and break negative patterns. ...
3. Take time to reflect. ...
4. Strive to maintain some normalcy. ...
5. Create some comfort. ...
6. Count your blessings." (1)
and even to take advantage of it.
🍁Find the humor in the situation. ...
🍁Talk about problems more than feelings. ...
🍁Don't stress out about stressing out. ...
🍁Focus on your values instead of your fears. ...
🍁Accept the past, but fight for the future. ...
🍁Don't expect stability."(2)
with an open mind and heart.
And may you grow and learn from each change.
Happy Tales to you,
2. dealing with change
September 2022 Blog
September is the month of
So, I "googled" it up on my computer...
- Set goals for yourself. ...
- Surround yourself with people who want to see you do well. ...
- Evaluate what isn't working and eliminate those habits. ...
- Learn a new activity or skill. ...
- Eat healthily and hydrate daily. ...
- Have compassion for yourself and others. ...
- Clean your space regularly.*
explore all of the ways I can improve myself.
Be well and Stay safe!!
Happy Tales to you,
A Place where I can Bark, Blog and Woof a Little
written by Yvonne Dagger