Last week we lost an iconic dog whose story inspired so many people around the world. A picture of a dog named Schoep and his owner went viral – and for good reason. The picture was of a man named John Unger who was literally carrying his elderly dog in his arms in Lake Superior to help ease his arthritic pain. The photo touched the hearts of millions all over the world and showed the unconditional and true loving bond that a human can have with an animal.
If you saw this picture on the Internet, have you ever wondered what the story was behind it?
The dog was a 20 year old shepherd mix who passed away breaking the heart of his Mr. Unger who posted this quote on his Facebook page, “I breathe but I can’t catch my breath…Schoep passed yesterday.”
The dog had been allegedly abused, but no longer after he was adopted by Unger when he was 8 months old. When Unger got him from the cage, the animal was huddled in the corner. Unger, who as engaged at the time he adopted Schoep was left by his fiancé. He shared that he fell into a deep and suicidal depression and it was Schoep who pulled him out and literally saved his life.
During his final years of life, Schoep had very painful degenerative arthritis. Since treatment was way out of Unger’s budget at about $200 per session, he tried to help his dog by carrying him the lake in the evenings to ease Schoep’s aching joints and to help him fall asleep. Unger asked a friend to take a picture one night of himself with his dog because he knew that he was going to have to soon put his dog down. That was back on August 1, 2012 and when the photo hit the Internet, it exploded with popularity. Donations then began pouring in nationally as well as internationally to help. Over $25,000 was collected.
Unger and Haukaas (the dog’s vet) established the Schoep’s Legacy Foundation to help low-income families pay for their pet’s medical care. Schoep got the treatment he needed and added a ton of new quality to the rest of his life, until he passed last week.
If you have lost an animal, the pain can be overwhelmeing. Please read the Rainbow Bridge, which may bring some comfort, as it has to millions.
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