John Unger's beloved dog is benefiting from some expensive medical treatment thanks to a photograph that went viral over the weekend.
Photo credit: Hannah Stonehouse Hudson/StonehousePhoto.com.
The image is of John Unger holding his 19 year old dog Schoep in Lake Superior. Unger rescued the dog as a puppy, and the two have been through a lot together. Now the aging companion suffers from arthritis; Unger found that the unusually warm waters of Lake Superior helped the dog to relax and fall asleep. Unger asked Bayfield, Wisconsin photographer Hannah Stonehouse Hudson to capture what he believed might be his last journey into the lake with his canine friend.
The photo, taken on July 31st, has been viewed well over two million times on Facebook, and shared over 100,000 times. And donations are pouring in to pay for laser treatment for Schoep's arthritis.
In a piece for the Duluth News Tribune, John Lundy writes:
Unger and his then-fianceé found the dog 18 years ago at a humane society in Ozaukee County, Wis., when it was an 8-month-old puppy.
"We knew we wanted to work with an animal who was abused," Unger said. "I just had a vision of working with an animal to bring out his full potential."
Testing suggested that the dog had been beaten by a male, and it took Unger another eight months to fully earn his trust.
The relationship with his fianceé didn't work out. They shared custody of Schoep for a while, but he has been Unger's full time since his former fianceé moved to Colorado 13 or 14 years ago.
But the breakup with his fianceé caused Unger to enter a depression. One night, he said, he went to a breakwater in Lake Michigan off Milwaukee with thoughts of suicide.
"To be honest with you, I don't think I'd be here if I didn't have Schoep with me (that night). He just snapped me out of it. I don't know how to explain it. He just snapped me out of it. ... I just want to do whatever I can for this dog because he basically saved my ass."
God bless and keep you John...............
This picture shows so much love from both of you to each other. You have an amazing story together. You are helping Shoep so much, just as he helped you. I wish I could say that you will have much more time together, but at 19 years, Shoep has already shared more years, more memories, and more love with you than most dogs can. I hope you don't mind, but I'm going to use this photo as my desktop for awhile. It makes me cry, but they are happy tears for what you have and what you give to Shoep. Thank you for sharing this touching moment with all of us.
what love i love animals
you are a good man john
This photo made me cry! The love for a pet is so fantastic! You are a true pet lover! Bless you!
What a heartwarming story of love and friendship!! Thank you so much for sharing your tender ritual with the world.
If people in this world had half of the compassion and respect for animals that you have for Schoep we wouldn't have the appalling euthanasia rate we have in this country.
John---there is nothing more perfect than the devotion and love of a dog.....it is humbling, and so incredible. If one ever doubts the existence of a God, a master of creation, a look at this photo will change your opinion.
Thank you for allowing this photo to be published.
A man is not judged by the size of his wallet but rather the compassion in his heart. You found each other 20 years ago for a reason. John, you are an inspiration to us all. I will cherish this photo forever.
Thank you for this photograph. In a world full of hate, this was so moving and beautiful it brought me to tears. Loving a dog is probably one of life's most wonderful pleasures and it is quite obvious that you know what I mean. What a lovely way to start the day, I have sent this picture to every dog lover and animal lover I know. Beautiful.
God bless you for your passion and your love of your dog. Beautiful!
THIS MADE ME CRY, IT IS SOOOO BEAUTIFUL!!
This made me tear up so hard. You know, It really never matters how old you get. When somethng hits home and really fills the heart with love those emotions just flow. Im so happy to see how these two have formed such an amazing bond with each other. I wish there were more folks in the world that took the time to be just that.
Dog spelled backwards, God.
Thank you for showing us true love.
Thank you for sharing this moment with us..it is so beautiful..a PICTURE OF LOVE in action!! You two are so lucky to have found each other!!!
I just can't stop looking at this photo...it has moved me beyond words! I have a 21 year old cat that I've been comforting as she nears the end so I know how we will do anything to relieve them of
pain and just comfort and be with them in silence and stillness.
Thanks for sharing your touching story John! I will never forget the beautiful picture!
Stories like these restores my faith in humanity. So much abuse and cruelty towards animals in the world today. This is beautiful.
How and to whom can one contribute to help this precious dog?
As I read the previous posts, it seems that all of us who love our pets feel a connection to you as we have been where you are now. What a beautiful picture - it speaks volumes about the bond between humans and animals, and moreover about what a great person you must be! Give her a universal kiss from all of us!
I have shared this amazing photo on my Facebook page!! Brought tears to my eyes. So moving, you both save each other lives. The love we get from our pets, is something you can't describe.
Awesome-no other words to describe. I lost my husband on Mother's Day and have two dogs that I feel the same way about-I would not be here today if it weren't for them. They know the sadness I have felt and are always there for me, licking my tears and wagging their tails!!!! I saw on the photographer's website you can buy a print of this picture and proceeds will go towards vet bills, so I will definitely do that.
This is a very touching photo I cried seeing it also. You are a gentle soul for loving and caring for your best friend like you have and you are. I pray that others will see this and realize our dogs and cats and others animals are GODS creations and they deserve to be treated with much love.......I too am an animal lover my cats are like my children....☺
I forwarded this around the office today and many of us were brought to tears. We are from PetSmart and all have multiple animals that we would do anything for. Thank you for touching us in such a visceral way. Schoep will never be forgotten by thousands you have reached by this picture.
Poignant moments of tenderness and trust are in this picture. A visible relationship between a man and his special buddy. This picture will touch many in the days to come.
GOD knows of the good hearts that care for this picture.
If only ALL men and women could be so kind to God's creatures. What a beautiful story.
I can't pull my eyes away from this powerful photo. It's pure love and devotion. God Bless you, John, and your beloved pup.
John, thank you so much for sharing this beautiful photo with the world, Bless you and Schoep!
This dog has been soo blessed to have you. May you have many happy memories of all your love and devotion for each other. Thank you so much for sharing this touching picture.
i have a 14 year old basset hound named arnie,that struggles to get around.and i will be there for him till the very end.i love him dearly!!!!!!!!!!
Very cool story. Dogs know so much more than we think - you must have been worth saving.. :-) I had a 14 yr old lab/pointer mix that needed much care in his old age. Nearly killed me to let him go. Good luck to you both!
There are no words to describe this photo. I love my Maggie the same way and would do anything for her. Animals love you unconditionaly no matter what. God bless you John and your beloved dog.I will pray for you and your baby everyday. You are an inspriation to everyone who thinks animals don"t have feelings because they do. God bless you.
I have not been able to take my eyes off of this photograph all day today. There have been tears of joy all day today. God Bless you for making Schoeps life Heaven on earth. You are the true meaning of a loving and caring man. Hope the treatments work and just continue to love each other.
Best buddies until the end. This photo is priceless.
What a photo!
No love like the uncondional love of a pet.
I love this story in so many ways! Hydrothereaphy= water works!
Opps sorry for typo before, I meant to say I can relate and I too believe- hydrotherapy- water- works!
Keep the faith and 19 is an awesome age!
Thank you for loving your your friend with truly unconditional love. What a beautiful photo. I pray your best friend will be given more time by a loving compassionate God. God bless you both.
Thank you John for giving Shoep the love and care he so deserves and I know he has repaid you back for all the love and care you have gave to him. I just can't imagine my life without my Australian Shepherd, Dixie Rose.. She is the love of my life. This beautiful photo and story has brought tears to my eyes.. Thank you so much for all the Love you have for Shoep... Love and hugs to you both.. GOD Bless you both always.. xoxoxoxooxo from Debra, in Missouri
Thank you for sharing your beautiful story. My 12 year old Lab had severe arthritis in his rear legs and with medication he was helped with the pain. I only wish I had known about hydrotherapy back then. Your photo is beyond words that any of us can say. Schoep looks like he is in total peace. God give you the strength to continue to hold him up in this way for as long as possible for as many days and times that you have with him. I will pray for both of you and will always save your picture as a reminder of true love. :)
OMG. I just got done reading about abuse of brain-injured adults in Florida at the Florida Institute for Neurologic Rehabilitation (see Bloomberg news) and was left literally crying. I NEVER cry (except for animal stories) and I was feeling miserable. Then I saw this photo and read this story, and all that anger and depression flowed out of me, as I cried for a second time, but for a better reason. Thank you so much for giving me a piece of hope for humankind (if only we could all be as loving to each other as our furry pets/babies/best friends are to us). Thank you so much to the photographer and John for making my day better. ;)
How can I contribute tothe dogs treatment?
It takes a very special person to love an animal like you have - I treat my two dogs as if they were my own children and John you obviously do the same! Schoep looks like the happiest and most blessed dog in the workd thanks to you - I can only pray that there are others out there who give their whole heart and soul like you have!!! God bless you and that beautiful best friend of yours :)
What kind of arthritis treatment is being done?
John...you are truly an inspiration and your story has moved me to tears each and every time I read it. You both look so incredibly peaceful that I felt I needed to whisper even as I looked at the photo for fear that I would somehow wake your beautiful little angel. Your are both so very blessed to have each other. Thank you so much for sharing this intensely private moment with us.
You captured the very essence of love between a human and pet.
As one gives so shall he receive
That photo brought tears. To my eyes. To see a man devote so much to his long time companion is spool touching. I wish everyone out there was like u and realized how much a animal gets us through. Our everyday lives no matter what happens they r there for you. My kitten got me almost through a miscarriage. 2 weeks and not many people understand that. What they give to us is not even close to what they deserve in return
thought you'd find this of interest, really special I think. Henry
John, you are a beautiful person, inside and out, with so much to offer this world. Please know that you are a rare person in a world of but common men. You will love and be loved again. Believe it and smile in anticipation.
I know how you feel. My three dogs are my children. I do anything and evertything for them. They mean the world to me and they know the love they get.
there is no greater bond than that between a (wo)man and his dog. this picture, your story and the story of all who have rescued and nurtured dogs from a horrible existence proves it. once realized how fortunate they are for being rescued, they give the most amazing love and are desperately loyal. I put my pete to rest in december '11. he was 15-1/2 and diagnosed with kidney failure. I promised him when I rescued him that he would never again suffer as long as he was with me and it was my choice to let him rest. I did not want his last days to be lived any other way than happy! I think of him each day, I speak to him each day, I cry for him each day, I miss him each day and I will love him, as he loved me, until his last breath. God loves people who loves Dogs.....God bless you
My heart goes out to both John and Schoep - animals are such a blessing to us, and I pray that our aminals will someday be in heaven with us.
They deserve to be - they give their all, asking only love in return.
May God bless you now and in the future.
This is one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen and from one animal lover to another I praise you John - just awesome
Beautiful and good in heart taking care of Schoep, I love this picture , Thanks John. God loves Schoep & you too.
John, what a beautiful love story! I didn't have any other contact info for you but I wanted to share with you, and you probably already tried this, but in case you haven't, because we hadn't, my dog (miniature Sharpei) is 11. She started suffering from arthritis so badly she would scream out in pain in the middle of the night and wake every one up. I was so sad. She had gotten to the point where we would have to carry her up and down the stairs and I had to lower her bed at the foot of our bed just so she could climb in. We took her to the dr and they gave her an anti-inflammatory and antibiotics. They did not seem to do any good. Then I was reading on the Costco website about the #1 Vet recommended joint health supplement for dogs called Cosequin DS Plus MSM. We started her on it about 2 weeks ago, and we have been doing a lot of praying over her. Wow! What a transformation. She is climbing the stairs, biting and jumping on me when I walk in the door like she used to, rolling on the floor acting like a puppy. We cannot believe the difference, and we are so grateful. I just wanted to mention it to you in case you haven't tried it yet. Anyway, God bless and be with you and Schoep, and thank you so much for sharing your precious story and picture with all of us!
The amazing thing about our dearly loved animal companions is how the bring out the absolute best qualities in we humans. Love, warmth, compassion, joy, comfort and then the heartache as we bid them goodbye. The pain and tears we feel are the loss of the big piece of our hearts they take with them.
I have lost pets before, but my Tonkinese cat Perri is wrapped tightly around my heart. As I watch her gently age, I treasure every moment I have with her.
God bless you, John. And may God grant Schoep many pain free golden days ahead.
Wow, I am moved. I have an American Foxhound that means sooo much to me. She greets me when I come home with such unbridled and unconditional love. She actually sings to me as I walk in the door..well, she howls, but to me she is singing. The love you are demonstrating to Shoep is a great picture of the love Christ demonstrates towards us. Not trying make it a spiritual, but what a picture. I pray for you and Shoep. I pray that he will be healed soon and the two of you continue to grow together. God bless you both!
thank good ness for both of you...animals can be so trusting, and comforting...great job...
There is only one way to express the beauty of this picture.....TRUE LOVE ! Thank you so much for sharing it.....
We have also always had rescue dogs and they are always so appreciative of the Love and give back 150%. Bless you both and keep up the Love .You are both lucky to have each other and be happy that you have had such a wonderful life together. Prayers for you both.
mom and dad spelled backwards is dad dna mom. dog spelled backwards is god.
This is the most touching and beautiful picture. You can see the deep love you have for Schoep just jumping out of this picture. I wish you both the best and lots of love from our family to yours. I cannot imagine all of the good times you two have shared together. That is amazing and a true gift. I will keep you both in my prayers and I truly hope Schoep feels better soon. I am so glad that he has started laser treatments. I am in awe of you both. You both have been there for each other throughout the years and have formed a bond that is unbreakable. This is a very difficult time for both of you and you show such courage, determination and strength to make sure this very adorable friend is so well taken care of. The thing about having an animal is they will always love you unconditionally, thats it. They just love you. I can see in this picture how much both of you love each other and that you two are best buds. You have such a gentle soul and you inspire us all. I wish more ppl were as kind, gentle and caring as you are. Schoep trusts you with his life. You two found each other for a reason. I made sure everyone I know and everyone in my family is aware of your story. It is amazing and I cant stop thinking about you both. As I said, I will keep you in my prayers and truly wish both of you the best. I hope that Schoep has relief from his discomfort and pain. Lots of love to you both!!!!
And a big thank you to the photographer for posting this amazing picture in the first place. Without her, we would have never known this story. Things all happen for a reason.
John this is very touching and I can relate to you and Schoep............My heart goes out to you and I had a 19yr old poodle and she had problem like Schoep then I gave her biscuits for arthritus it is called Joint Support from Royal Treatment, they really helped her so if you are reading this look this up it costs $20 for two two pound bags they are peanut butter flavor wafers and it has Glucosamine in them.
John, Schoep knows what you are doing for him and he loves you very much, the picture says it all.
God Bless the both of you.
In a world that all too frequently makes us cynical and angry due to the selfishness, greed and unpleasantness of a few, this picture restores our faith in what truly matters.
A truly touching picture of two best friends,- one doing anything to offer his best friend as much comfort and as much love as he can. Truly heartwarming.
John, I hope you get to read all of these comments buddy.
Can this condition be treated? If so, I'm sure any funding would be raised in a heartbeat such is the power of this picture......If there is...AOL, can you assist here by posting a link?
John, you are truly an amazing human being! The picture shows the true love between you and Schoep. If only there were more kind and compassionate people, the world would be a better place. I wish you only the best. God bless you and Schoep. You both are in my prayers. To whom can I contribute to help this wonderful dog?
Someone introduced us to a product in March 2012 that was meant to change our lives, and it did, but it changed the life of my 16 year lab cross dog. We were nearing the time when we would have to give her up. She could hardly get up, could not climb stairs or even a ramp and stopped all of her walking. Her hips were so bad she swayed when she did attempt to walk. I am happy to report that due to one natural supplement that is revolutionary she is now waiting for me each morning on the deck that she has to climb up to, takes walks, follows me around the yard and no longer refuses to move when we drive up and she is in our driveway. Her hips have almost no sway in them and she is alert and feeling good. This natural supplement was developed over 40 years by a doctor who devoted his life to studying oxidative stress and disease. Dogs are even more susceptible to oxidative stress than humans. For anyone who wants to know more go to this link. It is a 2005 ABC News Investigative report. www.abcliveit.com Feel free to contact me. The thought of what this supplement has done for me, and many others and their pets, to whom I've introduced it, makes me feel so blessed every day. John, I would be happy to send a 60 day supply to you in a sealed, new bottle, to try. We noticed the change in our dog and ourselves within days. For anyone interested, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will be happy to call you if you want me to.
God Bless you and Schoep. I saw this on the news and I was crying. That is a beautiful photo and it's nice to see the loving bond both of you have towards each other. You can tell he feels comfort in the water and looks as if he's saying "Thanks Dad, that feels better". Pets bring us so much joy and are there for us with unconditional love. When I have a cold and am sleeping on the couch, my dog is there with me. I hope Schoep gets better soon.
i hope this animal gets what ever it is to make him feel better if he can't have the treatment maybe his owner can get a hot tub at his home so he don't have to go so far and the pup can be in comfort when ever it is needed and at the comfort of his loving home
Just after dinner, I was watching the TV and the photos and a video of this man and his dog was aired via TVBS-Taipei Taiwan. I have seen the video which really made me cry because I am also taking care of a 6-year old beagle. It makes me feel sad while imagining my dog to suffer like Schoep sooner or later... :( :( :( God bless you John and I hope you still have more years to spend with Schoep. I pray for it...
Has the owner tried taking the dog to a Chiropractor. I know it sounds funny - however - I met an owner of a 14 year old Lab that took his dog to a pet Chiro - and the dog has a temporary reprieve from the arthritis (2 weeks between treatments). A few adjustments and the dog responds positively.
Hope this helps.
I'm such a dog lover. This touched my heart.
I puchased a photo. It will help with Schoep's vet bills. I will proudly hang this picture in my home to show all who visit me that John's love for Schoep is so deep and strong that he spends hours in the water with Schoep so he can have some relief from the pain. It makes me feel good to participate in helping to pay the vet bill so Schoep can live the best life he can. Blessings to you, John and to Schoep.
God bless you both John and Shep. I cannot stop looking at this photo. I love all dogs but especially the senior ones so this has touched my heart in a way that I can't even explain. Thank you both for restoring my faith in this world. Love is best when it isn't complicated. This is a perfect example.
God Bless you both. that is true unconditional love!
HOW / WHERE CAN I DONATE?????
High doses of "Celery Seed" Tabs have helped old arthritic dogs down under here in Australia. I have seen the results and I have taken lower doses to achieve positive results.
Truly the merciful are blessed. The power of shared love shouts from this photo.
Thank you so much for being you and thank God the world did not lose a soul such as yours over a relationship falling apart. You both saved each other and many, many people will never forget what you have done for Schoep.
Only dog owners understand this type of unconditional love when it comes to their pets.