Heartwarming Photograph Brings Donations Flooding in For Dog’s Treatment

This photograph of Unger and his dog, Schoep, has brought in donations to help pay for Schoep's treatment.

A beautiful and heartwarming photograph of John Unger, and his 19-year-old dog, Schoep, has brought donations for an expensive medical treatment pouring in.

Unger and his then fiancé rescued Schoep from a humane society when he was just 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.”

Over the years, the Unger and Schoep have experienced the best and the worst of times together.

Schoep was quite nervous around Unger, as it was believed a male had abused the dog in the past. It took about eight months for Unger to earn Schoep’s trust.

When the relationship between Unger and his fiancé had a falling out, the pair shared custody of Schoep. Unger began caring for the dog full time a few years later when his former fiancé moved hours away to Colorado.

After the separation with his fiancé, Unger became very depressed, followed by thoughts of suicide. Unger made his way to a breakwater in Lake Michigan one night, thinking of taking his own life.

“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.”

These days, the aging dog suffers from arthritis. Unger discovered that the warm waters of Lake Superior, near northern Wisconsin, have helped the dog to relax and fall asleep.

Knowing that the pair are reaching their final days together, Unger asked Bayfield, Wisconsin photographer, Hannah Stonehouse Hudson, to capture the two as they relax in the lake together.

The photograph was taken on July 31st and has since been viewed over two million times on Facebook, in addition to being shared over 100 000 times. The popularity of the photograph has influenced many users to make donations to assist Unger in paying for an expensive laser treatment to help Schoep’s arthritis.


  1. Tom Tilley says on  08/07/2012 at 1:33 pm

    I’d like more info on this laser treatment.
    My 11 year old boy Sam is suffering from arthritis in his knee
    and is rapidly becoming a 3 legged dog.
    He’s a trooper and doesn’t complain but I know he is in pain.
    He was there for me when I needed him and I’d dearly love to help him now.

    Google my name,dog and bear to see how he helped me.

  2. BT says on  08/07/2012 at 1:50 pm

    At 19 that dog has lived a very long life. I’m sympathetic to his pain but I have 14 year old lab, Taylor, with arthritis and Masticatory myositis. I’m spending all I can to make her last few months comfortable. She was also my best friend as I went through a divorce. Every day I’m thankful for another day with her but I worry about her pain level. I hope the laser treatment helps Schoep. {{Hugs}}

  3. Anonymous says on  08/07/2012 at 2:55 pm

    I think anyone who has a pet suffering with arthritis should be asking their veterinarian about Metacam.
    We have an almost 16 y/o cat that was almost fully lame 3 years ago but with prescribed Metacom, has lived another 3 years with much less pain. Laser treatments are expensive but the cost of this medicine http://www.metacam.com is not very bad at all. Just passing this info along to help other pet owners out there. :-)

    • Meloxicam is very inexpensive. My Taylor has been on it for the past two years for her arthritis. I believe it has helped her, but when I had it prescribed for my arthritis it didn’t help.

  4. David says on  08/07/2012 at 4:39 pm

    I was diagnosted with Arthritis in my legs , tried a product called Zija and it took all the pain away. I realize that these are animals we are talking about, this will help animals to.

  5. marilee says on  08/07/2012 at 4:46 pm

    I’m using Seanol for my knees and it helps a lot. Don’t know if it works on animals but if it’s arthritis I don’t see why not. Plus it’s a natural supplement, not a toxic chemical. But when it’s arthritis and it’s your dog, whatever works.

  6. PJ says on  08/07/2012 at 9:21 pm

    Two species with the same condition do not always react the same way to a medication. Dogs and people do not metabolize all drugs the same way. Do not give Seanol or any other medication to your dog without checking with your vet. Even a natural supplement can have side effects or interact with other medications. It might work or not, just check first. You don’t want to help your dog’s arthitis at the expense of his liver or kidneys.

  7. Anonymous says on  08/08/2012 at 12:29 am

    We had to bid farewell to our wonderful lab/shep , Ulyssees a few years ago. He had no hip (s) left. He was falling down and his spine was fusing. We still miss him , and our grand daughter still cries when ever thoughts of him come up in her mind, he was HER first dog. Suicide is final. I am so glad that Schoep was there for Unger. So, very glad.

  8. Cheryl F says on  08/08/2012 at 11:16 am

    That is a most beautiful shot. Somehow manages to show the great love John has for his dog as well as Schoep’s complete trust in his arms. It’s a picture worth looking at every single day.

  9. Evelyn Hunter says on  08/08/2012 at 11:17 am

    An elderly man in my town died leaving two elderly animals a Doberman named Rock Bottom and an appaloosa gelding named Prince. His family who inherited his house and large farm were going to put both of them down when I asked if I could have them. Rock had been kicked by a horse in the hips and after about 3 happy years on a number of supplements one morning he could not get up and was obviously in pain so we had to put him down- he was a dear dog and deserved those extra years. The horse had Cushings Syndrome and had been foundered but he made it another 5 years in good health with good (expensive) care and I do not regret giving what I did not always have to help these animals have a few more happy years.

  10. Paula says on  08/09/2012 at 1:28 pm

    What a loving story! God bless you, Unger, for taking in Schoep when he needed you , and he returned the favor!

  11. Dog lover says on  08/12/2012 at 5:33 pm

    Seriously guys please give me a link or the owner’s email address or something to make a donation. I would like to help that poor dog but couldn’t find a link or anything to send him a donation. Please post the link on where to make a donation and i would be really happy. Thanks.

  12. Anonymous says on  08/13/2012 at 10:08 am

    God bless you Mr. Unger. I will always look at that picture of the two of you and know love. Schoep is in such a state of being loved. You are doing a wonderful thing for Schoep and the rest of us.

  13. pat says on  01/14/2014 at 10:49 pm

    its now 2013 how is Schoep now?

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