You might remember John Unger, the devoted dog dad whose love for his boy was captured by photographer Hannah Stonehouse Hudson in a snapshot that was seen around the world. It has been over a year since Schoep passed, and now John has opened his heart to a new shelter dog.
A senior dog in his late teens, Schoep suffered from arthritis that made it difficult to walk, and even swim, which he loved. So John tenderly held his beloved dog, often for hours, in the soothing waters of Lake Superior. Sometimes Schoep was so relaxed that he’d fall asleep in his dad’s arms.
“He was my life,” John said.
When Hannah’s beautiful photo surfaced online, the pair became instant celebrities amongst dog lovers, and their bond touched the hearts of everyone who read the story that went along with the photo.
John was battling depression 20 years ago when he came across Schoep in a shelter.
“He saved me that night and I could only do my very best for him after that,” John told USA Today.
And he did. He loved his dog til the very end, even celebrating Schoep’s 20th birthday. It wasn’t long after that Schoep departed this world, leaving John with a gigantic hole in his heart.
“It was really tough after Schoep left, and [I] didn’t know what to do with my time,” he explained.
As the months passed, John thought about getting another dog, but nothing felt right.
“It was re-learning how to live and once I learned that and once I got through the toughness of his love that’s when I started searching again,” he said.
Several days ago, a handful of dogs were surrendered to the Northwoods Humane Society in Wyoming, Minnesota. Year-old Bear was one of them.
“It was just unison. It was just you know, in love from the moment they said hello to each other,” said shelter worker Kim Molitor.
It’s been less than a week now, and John and Bear are still getting to know one another, such as whether Bear prefers a stick or a ball.
Though it is difficult to move on from Schoep, John knows he has to take a chance on love.
“I talk to him still. Thank him for everything.”