John and Schoep Unger are known worldwide from the photo of John cradling 15 year old Schoep in the waters of Lake Superior. The photo captured a moment that happens daily to help relieve Schoep's arthritis pain and let him relax.
Thanks to a generous donor, Schoep is receiving laser treatments for the pain, and on Tuesday John uploaded this video of a session from last week.
John said on his Facebook page, "I really think it’s helping. He wags his tail again, walks better and it’s easier for him to bend his head down to eat."
Story Update September 25, 2012:
Thanks to the generosity of strangers, John Unger and his 19-year-old dog Schoep will have more time together. The aged dog was suffering from severe arthritis but after a photo of the pair went viral on the web along with their story, donations began to pour in to help Schoep.
When John realized he had received more money than would be reasonably spent on Schoep's care, the Schoep Legacy Foundation was formed. John, his veterinarian Dr. Haukass and Hanna Stonehouse Hudson, the professional photographer who captured the heartfelt moment, decided to create the foundation together to help low-income families care for their aging dogs. The foundation has raised more than $25,000 thanks to donations received from people as far away as Japan and Saudi Arabia.
Dr. Haukass told Mail Online, "The idea is to pay it forward; give it to other organizations, to help out other animals in the area and use the money in the spirit it was given."
The money could help 30 or 40 "Schoeps".
For John, he's both honored and touched. "It's incredible to be in a position to help others," he said. Letters have poured in from all over the world. Many people have written John telling them of the difficulties they are going through and how the photo of him cradling Schoep in a lake has helped them feel better.
John knows first-hand how Schoep helped him. He and his ex-fiancée adopted Schoep 19 years ago, but when the relationship ended, he became suicidal.
"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,' he said.
Now funds in the new Schoep Foundation will be used in a variety of ways to care for the pets of families with financial hardship in the community where Schoep lives.
Story update June 15, 2013:
Today is Shoep's 20th birthday!
John writes, "The Birthday boy is having a great time! - Breakfast in bed eggwhites & rice mixed w/ his regular food, then a massage and nap. We then went on a walk and checked on the water temp where we go swimming. Please don't mind the leash & coller, I'm not pulling rather keeping it taught for him to balance himself."
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