Schoep’s Dad Adopts a New Rescue Dog

“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,” John said.



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.


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“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.


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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.


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“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.”


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486 thoughts on “Schoep’s Dad Adopts a New Rescue Dog

  1. I tear up every time I see that picture of Schoep and John. SO very happy that John has found a new friend. They bring so much happiness and John has so much love to give.

    1. Me too…that photo gets me every time. My 18 1/2-year-old cat Fluffy passed away from lung cancer last November, and the thing with a pet friend that you’ve had that long is that you’ve gone through so much with them. A part of you dies with them, you know. It hurts like hell no matter how long you’ve been with them, even for a day. But you can see in that photo how much they love each other, how close they are after 20 years together. I’m trying to be extra good because when I die, I want to go wherever my pets have gone.

      1. ” I’m trying to be extra good because when I die, I want to go wherever my pets have gone.”

        Absolutely awesome.

  2. so happy for John and Bear! sad to hear about Shoeps’ passing, but wow – 20 years! wonderful, and so clearly loved. 🙂

  3. It is a tribute to Schoep for John to adopt another dog and love again. The new dog will be different, but also a loving relationship. Good for both!

  4. Very happy for you. Bear is a very lucky boy to have you in his life and know that Schoep is looking down and wagging his tail because you are helping another dog have an amazing life

  5. Schoep is looking down on you with a big smile and a wag of his tail. His love will live on in your heart and by sharing it with your new family member.

  6. Julia, my Maggie was 14 1/2. It took awhile. Just like our humans Loves, they want us to live on and be happy. If it lasts a long time and you feel more down, talk to a pro. Hugs.

  7. So very happy you’ve found love again. Your sweet Schoep would LOVE the fact that you are spreading love with others.

  8. It’s so difficult. Lost my Gracie dog after 18 yrs and two battles with cancer. Two years later we found Buster Posey almost a twin and it was immediate mutual love. Enjoy your new companion

  9. That is what we’re supposed to do, we’re supposed to cry and then in our friends memory we are supposed to make a home for a new friend.i can only save them one dog at a time

  10. It took me about six to eight months after Thor then this guy came through the door and crawled into my lap and heart. He is a little blanket eating oddball and he is great.

  11. Best wishes and puppy love to you John Unger. Always keep your heart open for love from a Furbaby. Schoep will FOREVER be in your heart

  12. the heart knows when it is time…after following his story and his devotion to Schoep id say this new baby has found a wonderful man to love him…best of luck to them both <3

  13. Schoep would be so proud of his dad. Without learning to love Schoep the way he did, Bear wouldn’t be a part of the wonderful man’s heart too!

  14. 10 dogs later, the best tribute to a darling dog is to welcome home another one. Happiness to u both, oh and lotsa licks and hugs!

  15. I still miss my Grady Boy who looked just like Schoep and was my light in life until almost 14 years. I rescued Ginger, a tripod 6 months later and even though she will never fill Grady’s paws, she brings me lots of love and happiness. So happy that you have gotten a new partner in life. He looks adorable. I also had a pup named Bear.

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