You probably remember this photo if you were one of the millions who saw it when it went viral three years ago. Snapped by photographer Hannah Stone Hudson, it poignantly captured John Unger of Bayfield, Wisc., cradling his dog Schoep in Lake Superior.
Schoep, 18, had arthritis, and the lake’s warm water was soothing. Sometimes Unger would sit there for hours, holding him.
Unger found Schoep, who’d been abused, in a shelter back in 1995. Unger was suffering from depression at the time.
“He was my life,” Unger told KARE. “He saved me that night and I could only do my very best for him after that.”
Thanks to the photograph, donations for Schoep’s veterinary care poured in, allowing him to live a remarkable 20 years. He died in July 2013, cradled in Unger’s arms.
“It was really tough after Schoep left and I didn’t know what to do with my time,” Unger told KARE. “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 [for a dog] again.”
He said Schoep remains in his thoughts. “I talk to him still. Thank him for everything,” he told KARE.
On Monday, Unger became “whole again,” he wrote on the Schoep and John Facebook page.
He adopted Bear, a year-old Akita/Shepherd/Lab mix who’d been surrendered to the Northwoods Humane Society.
“Ladies and Gentlemen – This Is BEAR!” Unger wrote. “The journey continues with the addition of Bear into my home, heart, soul and OUR lives!”
Bear is one very lucky dog. Here’s wishing the two many happy years together.
You can send a welcome note to John and Bear at P.O. Box 434, Bayfield, WI 54814.
The photo of Unger cradling Schoep can be purchased from Stonehouse Photo.
Photos via Facebook